Mud runs draw the fit and their muck-caked friends

Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:05am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mud runs, essentially military-style obstacle races in muck, might appall the neat freak but for some people mud is the medium for a challenging test of true grit and fitness.

Neal Pire, owner of Inspire Training Systems, in Ridgewood, New Jersey, has trained several people for mud runs, which come in varying lengths and levels of difficulty and appeal to people who enjoy performing and withstanding the elements.

"Most of the people I've seen do it are the extreme fitness enthusiasts," said Pire, an expert with the American College of Sports Medicine. "The oldest was in her late 40s. It's not a lifetime affair."

"Spartan run, Mud Run, Tough Mudder -- each have their own flavor," he said, naming a few mud runs which are organized by organizations, companies and charities. "They all have obstacles, like water, climbing and crawling under barbed wire."

Roni Noone, 36-year-old wife and mother who has sloshed through at least two mud runs so far, said there is something motivating and inspiring about climbing a wall and jumping into a lake.

"The mud is just there and there's something very primal about it," said Noone, who is based in Baltimore, Maryland.

A runner and blogger, Noone was seeking a fresh challenge when she started doing obstacle-based runs. This year she completed a five km (3.1-mile) mud race called Rebel Run and the Tough Mudder, an approximately 12.5-mile (20-km) obstacle course trek, climb and swim through fire, mud and ice water designed by British Special Forces.

"Tough Mudder is a notch up from the typical mud run," said Noone, who trained for 12 weeks to prepare.   Continued...

Mud flies in front of a competitor as he swims through mud underneath electrified wires during the Tough Mudder at Mt. Snow in West Dover, Vermont July 15, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi