The Fascination with Mud

OK so everyone is signing up for one these days. The Spartan Series (; the Mud Hero (; the Tough Mudder ( It is not flaky we commiserate about running in the deep cold of winter or dread the tempo runs? Yet then we freely gravitate towards a race where we get covered in muck and the like, strain our shoulders on rope obstacles and knowingly abrogate our shoes. What gives? But hey, there is something visceral, intimate, innate about the whole act of racing in the mud. I’m hooked despite left pondering. What is the source of fascination with mud races? What is the deep-seated connection?


Let’s be honest here. Mud usually stinks. Run by a playground this time of year and open up those olfactory glands. What a stench! Fresh mud with decayed organic matter. Your 10 mile diet right there! Go roll in it and feel the love! So what gives? Is it the gritty, crunchy, rank taste of mother Earth between your teeth? A taste combination reminiscent of sweat infused leather shoes and caterpillar larvae. Or is it the connection with some primitive version of humanity where the thick, brown layer of wet dirt purges the burdens of today and releases a spirit of hope and optimism?


Whilst the above rationale may work for some and inspire same to attend Mud races, here is your dutiful blogger’s reason why Mud and Swamp races are attractive today: they lower our/your carbon footprint! Yes believe it or not we do this for climate change reversal. You say, “What?????”. Let me explain in three ways.


1) In a typical, traditional race, you keep your clothes. You WASH them afterwards. Somewhere way up the line this produced carbon dioxide (and hence a contribution to climate change). In a mud race, you throw away your clothes. They are drenched in muck/mud/soil and they are probably ripped. Six pounds removed from your carbon footprint. Easy.


2) A 5K mud run will take you on average twice the time of a standard 5K race, if not much more. This thus increases your ‘time away from modern conveniences’ factor. You are outside more, away from appliance temptation. You are not using up valuable resources that you would otherwise be consuming if at home had you finished the race much earlier. 8 pound reduction in your personal carbon footprint.


3) In a mud run you consume on average 14 grams of mud. This translates to 367 calories. It is like energy food available right there on the course. No need to wait for gel stations or the like. And 100% pure organic; no GMO’s! The advantage for our climate: you need less recovery food at the end of the race as compared to ‘clean’ races. This leads to less demand on our food supply production infrastructure. Less chemicals consumed, less energy consumed, all leading to more conservation of resources and a lower carbon footprint. Subtract 11 pounds.


So there you have it. The mystery of Mud race fascination revealed. Sign up for an upcoming race and feel good about the carbon footprint thing. Release your inner environmentalist and reduce your carbon impact by 25 pounds!

One of the Goats

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