New Tough Mudder Challenge: Don't Swallow Feces

Several competitors at a Tough Mudder in Nevada fell ill after the race. Subsequent investigations have found the reason why.

May 2, 2014
Outside Magazine
Tough Mudder manure feces illness

Tough Mudder, manure, feces, illness   

Tough Mudder competitors subject themselves to all sorts of unpleasantness. That is, after all, the point in obstacle course racing. But when participants are about to leap into giant vats of ice water or run through electrically charged wiring, they have advance knowledge of what they are getting into. However, 22 people who competed at a Tough Mudder in Beatty, Nevada, in 2012 didn't have that luxury—unless the fine print of the pre-race waiver included a bit on drinking animal feces.

A report released yesterday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the mud used in that event, held on a cattle ranch, was probably contaminated with swine and cow feces, both carriers for the Campylobacter coli bacteria, which can cause prolonged diarrhea. The investigation was launched after a number of competitors reported "fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea" in the week following the race. The CDC found "a statistically significant association" between those who claimed to have accidentally swallowed (manure) mud water during the race and those who suffered post-race illness. 

As its website will remind you, Tough Mudder is all about camaraderie during hardship. There's a "we're all in this together" ethos that is supposed to make the challenges more bearable. For those who spent the week after the Nevada TM sitting on the toilet, however, it must have been a lonely time indeed.

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