Spartan Race announced on Monday that it is hoping to acquire Tough Mudder in 2020. The company says that this is the first step in merging the two OCR leaders. While Tough Mudder would be officially under the Spartan Family brand, its events in Germany, Canada and the UK would continue to be operated by the same team and under the same name.
RELATED: Tough Mudder cuts all prize money
Spartan Race announced the acquisition of an exclusive option to acquire Tough Mudder’s UK, Canadian, and German events today, as the first step in an effort to bring together a complete merger of the two obstacle course race leaders.
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Joe De Sena, Spartan founder and CEO said, “This is a goal we’ve had for some time. Tough Mudder UK, Canada and Germany bring a unique experience and putting the success of the two together strengthens our global mission of getting 100 million people off the couch.”
This announcement follows the news that Tough Mudder would no longer see prize money for any of its 2019 events. It acknowledged that the lack of prize money would likely hurt its entry numbers, but the decision was made in hopes of rebuilding its core business. Obstacle course racing, which is the sub-category of running that includes Tough Mudder events, has been on the decline for several years. In a 2016 Wall Street Journal article, authors said that what was once one of the fastest growing mass-participation sports saw a 30 per cent decline in 2015. According the Mud Run Guide, a similar trend continued into 2017 and 2018.
However, in 2019 Tough Mudder appears to have made positive change. Their new predsident and CEO, Kyle McLaughlin, said that 2019 was a reset year for the company.
The difference between the two events
Tough Mudder is a team-based challenge whereas Spartan races are individual events. Some competitors say that Spartan obstacles are more challenging than Tough Mudder obstacles. Another key difference is that TM runners can skip obstacles, but in Spartan Races, skipping an obstacle means trading it for another physical challenge (namely, burpees).
Tough Mudder fans are concerned that the Spartan merger could lead to changes in the race style, in particular, less creative obstacles. Spartan headquarters is assuring participants that the Tough Mudder events will remain under the same brand and with the same team, as part of the Spartan umbrella.