Tough Mudder is every action man’s fantasy. It is a grueling seven mile race through muddy hills, cold water and burning bales of Hay. What started out as part of the Harvard Business School’s Business Plan contest is swiftly becoming a rising star of endurance races in America. During the Business Plan contest, judges felt that getting 500 people to put themselves through hell was a little optimistic. Will Dean, the founder of the contest, will be expecting 20,000 contestants at four races thoughout next year.
So why has this won so many fans? Why is it a great example of good marketing?
The race is about as unique as they get, a combination of triathlon, mad maldon racing and cross fit. The race was modeled on similar European races like the Grim Challenge and in Germany the Strongman Run. It offers something that competitors can’t get anywhere else.
The race taps into the growing outdoor fitness craze. With people looking for the next fun fitness fix after personal training and “boot camps”, Tough Mudder offers something unique to those that are sick of pounding pavement in Triathlons or Marathons. Everyone wants to prove they are capable of achieving something, especially those that have a little bit of a “weekend warrior” in them. This race offers something new to the fitness crowd.
Potential contestants have been submitting to Facebook etc. videos of themselves running up stairs in high heels. The event is encouraging people to a) be creative b) think about the contest in the lead up c) promote one of the core values of the competition, extreme endurance. Contestants are encouraged to spread the word and tell shaggy dog stories of the monkey bars covered in butter, or the freezing cold lakes they have to cross.
The race has some very slick branding, compared to other races around the world, such as the mad maldon race in England. The marketing is as good as the major marathons and as good as any corporate event. This has a two fold effect. One it makes it easy for corporate sponsors to get involved, because they can see the marketing capabilities. Two it makes it easy for contestants to buy into the competition, because they can see it is not a flash in the pan and they can easily attach themselves to the brand.