Spartan Race Vs. Tough Mudder: Which Makes You The Bigger Badass?


Credit: Spartan Race

Back in October, Guy Code Blog editor Ryan McKee–without any training, but with 27.2% body fat–conquered the Tough Mudder obstacle course. A dozen miles and 20 challenges later (including Arctic Enema, Fire Walker and Electroshock Therapy), he guzzled beer to numb the pain.

But his achievement was child’s play, according to Joe De Sena, co-founder of Spartan Race, which announced a partnership with Reebok yesterday at a Times Square event teeming with ex-military dudes you’d never want to mess around with. (Also: Brooklyn Decker, who you would.)

Spartan expects more than 500,000 participants to enter 60 events worldwide this year, hoisting cement blocks and crawling under barbed wire. And De Sena talked some serious smack about the obstacle course competition…

“It’s not timed, so it’s not a race and not treated like a sport–it’s more like a friendly get-together at a bar or a birthday party,” De Sena said of Tough Mudder. “We do not define ourselves with mud; we define ourselves with obstacles, and our obstacles are not just going to electrocute people. There’s nothing athletic about being electrocuted.”

Tough Mudder declined to take the bait, but a source close to the company told us, “They always try to drag Tough Mudder into their conversation and question our success–but we don’t waste time talking tough, we live it every day.”

Naturally, De Sena insists that Spartan’s events are the most difficult (“We’re sadists… it’s tougher than Green Beret training”). That said, he gave us a surprisingly sympathetic Guy Code for obstacle courses: “If someone’s having trouble, the unspoken rule is you help them out; you don’t leave anybody behind.”

And why would you leave anybody behind, considering that a third of them are ridiculously fit ladies?

“Many, many guys have met their girlfriends and wives at our races,” De Sena says. “Think about it: these women are in perfect shape, they’re committed and they don’t have the ‘issues’ that might drive some people to bars. … If you want to get in shape for a Spartan Race, the first thing is to stop drinking so much.”

Fair enough, dude, but if we tried to compete in a Spartan Race (or Tough Mudder again), we’d probably be driven to a few bars ourselves.

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