Far From Being Stuck in the Mud: The Mud Run Industry!

One of the most popular exercise mottos “No pain, No gain” is now irrelevant for a growing share of the population. Why cant people train without feeling the pain that usually comes with it? Training=Boring; they want to have fun while doing it!

Eureka! Some brilliant newcomers in the sport business industry decided to promote a fun and friendly way to participate in a physical activity by hosting some events that would have the power to reach a broader segment of the population. Considering that working out with friends is trendy, any type of community event that combines an important social aspect with an attainable challenging exercise represents a bright spot for sport practitioners and event-management companies.

Have you ever heard about mud run?

According to Obstacle Race World, nearly 3.4 million people participated in an obstacle course race in 2013 as revenue from registrations totaled $290.1 million. In 2014, obstacle course races are on pace to generate close to $362 million with an expected number of participants of over four million! These are huge numbers for a relatively new arrival in the sport business world.

Despite more than a hundred companies who are now developing obstacle course races, 70% of the industry’s market share is claimed by leading organizers, which include the “Big Three” mud brands; Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, as well as Spartan Race.

Warrior Dash

From its inception in 2009 by an event company based in Chicago, Warrior Dash is now one of the world’s largest mud-and-obstacle race series in the United States. Held in more than 50 locations across the globe and drawing participants from more than 45 states and three countries (2010 data), all Warrior Dash races are approximately 5km long and have about a dozen obstacles. Red Frog Events certainly found the golden ticket when they unleashed Warrior Dash in 2009 and now, it is obvious that everyone benefits from it, not only participants. For instance, according to the National Association of Sports Commissions, the direct spending by Warrior Dash attendees for the Genesee County event in 2011 averaged $4.5 million, broken down into $1.3 million from hotel sales, $1.3 million from restaurant sales, $849,000 from local store sales and $823,000 from gas sales. Further, the estimated money spent per race visitor, without the registration fees, was around $180! No matter the cost, a lot of people seem to want the “warrior” status.


Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder is a 10-to-12-mile obstacle running event that grew from 17,000 participants in 2010 to 700,000 in 2013. Promoted exclusively through Facebook and word of mouth at its inception, the value of Tough Mudder as a company is now valued at more than $70 million!

Generally speaking, Tough Mudder is different from other events as the main principle revolves around teamwork. Thus, if you want to be able to complete the course, you must work together as a group, otherwise it will be too difficult to cross the finish line. Indeed, it says that an average of more than 20% of participants don’t successfully complete the course and this is why, compared to Warrior Dash and Spartan Race, they do not time people.


Spartan Race

Spartan RaceTM was founded in 2009. Since then, it has established itself as the global leader in the sport trifecta of obstacle racing offering a true race adventure for anybody and everybody. With course lengths of 3+ miles (Sprint), 8+ miles, (The Super Spartan) and 12+ miles (The Spartan Beast), athletes of all fitness levels enjoy participating. All races have finisher’s medals and something new from this year is the Trifecta medal, which can be created by the combination of three triangular shaped medals. Thus, the only way to complete the Trifecta medal is to run all three races and earn one triangular shaped medal at each race. What a brilliant marketing idea, isn’t it!?

Further, there are also Spartan Races for children ages 5 to 13, which add an interesting value to Spartan RaceTM and another way for more people to embrace the Spartan lifestyle.

In 2013, the Spartan Race World Championship was the first event of its kind to be televised and drew about 120,000 viewers.

Arooh, Arooh, Arooh!!! I AM SPARTAN!

The Mud Run Business is on the rise: Joint marketing and media rights agreement!

The era where promotion of these events was almost exclusively done through social media is about to change, and sports media organizations now want to benefit from the growing popularity! NBC Sports has announced a multi-year strategic alliance that will provide the Reebok Spartan Race series with unprecedented coverage. Briefly, the deal gives NBC exclusive cable and digital broadcasting rights to six races, the Spartan Race World Championship as well as five additional Reebok Spartan Races, beginning on July 22nd, 2014.

In addition, NBC Sports will provide Spartan RaceTM with marketing and promotional support, and lead its national sponsorship and international television sales efforts. Within this win-win deal, Spartan RaceTM will enjoy a great platform to increase brand awareness for the company by exposing its competitions to more consumers and attracting more sponsors.

The future of the Mud Run Business looks bright!

With more than 500,000 participants annually, which is far from the first event in 2010 that inspired 1,500 participants to show up, the Spartan Race continues to be a great opportunity for sports media organizations. The deal with NBC Sports will without a doubt boost the Mud Run Industry in the next couple of years! Other market leaders such as Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder should probably start to reach out to capitalize on similar opportunities.

As the Montreal Canadiens “Big Three” who played a key role in winning the Stanley Cup six times in the 1970’s, the “Big Three” mud run brands should also have an important positive impact on the Mud Run Industry moving forward.

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