The Tough Mudder is ten miles long. It features 20 obstacles ranging from high walls to monkey bars to electric shocks. Participants crawl through the mud, swim through pipes, even carry other participants. It calls itself "probably the toughest event on the planet."
Yet 16,000 people put themselves through the muddy obstacle course this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. And 4,000 came to watch them do it.
"We just want to get out there and show what we've been working really hard for," said Amy Howe, a participant who had been training six days a week to prepare for Sunday. "The harder the events, the better it is."
The entrants ranged from fitness freaks to the casual gym-goer. For many marathon and adventure runners, the Tough Mudder provided a new challenge.
"It's just a little bit of a change to do something a little bit more extreme and intense," said Sean Gladwish.
Ben Story, the event's general manager doesn't call it a race, but rather "a challenge."
"It's a group of people that are dedicated to improving themselves and teamwork," Story said. "It's great to see people pushing their boundaries, pushing themselves to the limits and then helping each other in the process."
All participants take a pledge before they begin, saying they will put teamwork before their course time and help their fellow Mudders finish.
"Some of the obstacles, there's no way you can get over without someone helping you through it or pull you up or boost you up," said Mark Knapp, participating with a team from his gym.
The Tough Mudder also raises money for charity, focusing its efforts on the Wounded Warrior Project, which aids injured servicemen and women. The Michigan event raised more than $60,000, and events across the country and around the world have raised more than $5.6 million. Participants call it an added perk of registration.
"I believe it's giving back to the troops who gave their lives for their country," said Stephen Vacheresse, a participant and a veteran. "It's nice to see the civilians giving back to the troops,"