Now that I have finally completed a Spartan Race, I thought that this would be the perfect time for me to compare the three heaviest hitters in the OCR / Mud Run world. Naturally I am talking about Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder and Spartan Race.
Before I start comparing them I should probably discuss my history with each of the three races in case you are not aware. To date I have done 3 Warrior Dash Races (I have another coming up this Summer), 3 Tough Mudder Races (2 of which were back to back on the same course) and 1 Spartan Race (which was the Sprint but I am scheduled for the Super and Beast later this year).
All right, let’s get down and dirty! (Oops that’s another mud run but not one in my top 3, although I would probably rank it #4!)
Warrior Dash was my first ever mud run so it will always have a special place in my heart and race schedule. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to test the waters in the mud run / OCR arena. All Warrior Dash races are right around a 5k in distance (3.1 miles) and have about a dozen obstacles. Without a doubt I thought my first Warrior Dash was hard because I had never done anything like that before. However, I really do believe that most people can accomplish a Warrior Dash. The distance is manageable for most people and the obstacles are not super challenging. Warrior Dash is also known for being a fun event with a party atmosphere so sign up, get muddy and have some fun!
Tough Mudder was one of those races that I signed up for with a lot of trepidation. It really looked scary to me and that was part of the appeal. Interestingly enough, I ran my first Tough Mudder with a group of people who I didn’t even know. I now call many of them my friends because once you run a Mudder with someone you are bonded for life. If you are interested in running a Tough Mudder I encourage you to do it as part of a team. There are a lot of obstacles that require team work in order to accomplish them. If you don’t have a team, don’t let that deter you from signing up though. I assure you that you will find people to run with in your wave and since Tough Mudder encourages team work and camaraderie you will find many many people who will help you along the course.
Most Tough Mudders are 10-12 miles in length and have well over a dozen obstacles. The terrain for each Tough Mudder varies vastly between locations so take note of that before you sign up for a particular race. In my case, I loved the location in Ohio but really did not like the Michigan course because it was too open and flat.
One thing that sets Tough Mudder apart from the others is that it has THE best starting line MC that I have ever seen! THE. BEST. Sean Corvelle is the guy who will get you pumped up at the starting line and send you off in the best possible way. Never seen Sean in action? Watch the video below and tell me how pumped up he gets you!
Tough Mudder is also known for having some crazy obstacles including ones with electricity. I am not a fan of obstacles that are put on a course just for shock value (pun intended teehee) and that is probably the main reason I don’t have a Tough Mudder on my race calendar this year.
With that being said, I would still consider doing a Tough Mudder again in the future (I am definitely intrigued by the new Tough Mudder Legionnaires!) and I take great pride in being a Mudder. Hoorah to all my fellow Mudders out there!
I feel like Tough Mudder is a great fit for those who get bit by the OCR bug after running a Warrior Dash and also for those who value team work and camaraderie over competitiveness and running for time.
I should disclose that I have a more personal relationship with Spartan Race than I do with the other two races. I have been approached by them on multiple occasions to host giveaways on my blog or to promote other items like the just recently release book Spartan Up! This post is in no way sponsored by them and I would like to think that despite my relationship I can still give you an objective opinion.
The reason it took me so long to run a Spartan Race is because there has never been one in Michigan. (Come on already!) The Sprint that I ran was in Indiana and it was well worth the drive. Such a great course! I will be running the Super in Chicago and the Beast in Dallas so stay tuned for updates on those in the Fall.
Spartan Race to me is very different from the other two because they seem to be trying to promote a lifestyle. They don’t want you to just run their races they also want you to embrace the Spartan lifestyle to lead a healthier happier life. Spartan Race has workouts across the nation that you can attend for free (again, come to Michigan already), you can get daily emails from them that include workouts of the day and healthy recipes and they have a monthly challenge that you can participate in.
Like the other races they have finishers medals as well, however this year they have done something different to encourage people to complete the Trifecta. The Trifecta is when you compete the Sprint, Super and Beast in one calendar year. This year in addition to getting the regular finishers medal when you cross the finish line, you will also receive a triangular shaped medal. Run all three races and those triangles will fit together to complete the Trifecta medal. Pretty cool concept, if you ask me!
Having the three different races also sets Spartan Race apart from the other two. With Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash you basically have one option. With Spartan you can start with the Sprint and work your way up. A Sprint is 3+ miles with 15+ obstacles, a Super is 8+ miles with 20+ obstacles and a Beast is 12+ miles with 25+ obstacles. This makes the Spartan Race a race for anybody and everybody.
The obstacles at Spartan are much more difficult than Warrior Dash and aren’t gimmicky like Tough Mudder. That is probably why I enjoyed them so much. I feel they are a truer test of your strength and abilities. And lets not forget that Spartan is the only one of the three that penalizes you if you do not complete an obstacle. The penalty? 30 burpees!
It also seems that the courses that Spartan Races are held on are more technical than Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder. I am basing this on what other people have told me about the Spartans that they have done in addition to my experience at Indiana. Personally I like that. I like being out on the woods and reconnecting with nature even if it means tackling giant hills and rough terrain. It is good for the soul and it makes me want to come back again and again to that race. (Indiana, I will see you again next year! Aroo!)
So now I am sure some of you may be wondering which is my favorite. And in all honesty I love them all for very different reasons BUT if I had to choose which one I am more interested in at the moment it would be Spartan. I feel like Spartan is more aligned with who I am and who I want to be. But just because I feel that way doesn’t mean that you have to. The reason why I wrote this is so that you could pick which race sounds like a better fit for YOU. If I can encourage just one of you to go out and try an OCR / Mud Run, even if it isn’t one of these three, my job here is done!
Have you run any or all 3 of these OCRs? Let me hear about your experience!
Haven’t tried one? Which one sounds more tempting to you?