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Why We Pay For Pain: Extreme Obstacle Races

Why We Pay For Pain: Extreme Obstacle Races

Mud RacingEvery year, over two million people are willing to pay upwards of $150 to crawl through mud, jump through fire, hurdle themselves over walls, swim through ice water, and get shocked by electrical wires. This begs the question–why are people willing to pay for the pain?

Extreme obstacle course races–Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, and countless others–have grown rapidly in popularity over the past few years. For example, Tough Mudder, founded in 2010, has grown from 20,000 participants to over 450,000 in only three years.

Using SurveyMonkey Audience–our powerful online tool that targets specific survey respondents–we asked over 250 people to determine just who these extreme obstacle course participants are and why they willingly pay for pain.

What type of person would be possessed to sign up for an obstacle course full of bumps and bruises not to mention muddy eyeballs and ruined running clothes?

Here’s what we found out.


Most respondents decided to register because it was a fun way to challenge themselves and test their abilities. Having friends and family willing to participate was an added motivator as well. So are these extreme obstacle course races just a fad for mud-lovers of sweat and pain or are they here to stay? 

Are mud races a fad?If you have yet to sign up, fear not. According to our results, well over half say they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. With all of the different race options currently available, we were curious to know which obstacle course is at the forefront?

Which obstacle course is the most familiar?

The Tough Mudder rules the roost with nearly 60% having heard this “hardcore” 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces. The Warrior Dash–an obstacle race known for its horned participants‘ outrageous running costumes–based in the Midwest came in second at 50%.

Overall, we learned that the majority of runners are fun-loving adrenaline exercise fans who are simply looking for a unique and challenging way to push the boundaries of their physical abilities while spending quality (mud) time with friends and family.

Planning to run your first obstacle race this season or gearing up for your second, third? Tell us where you’re getting muddy in the Comments section below!

Don’t forget to visit SurveyMonkey Audience and get started with your own survey project today.

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