Tough Mudder Tri-State – Englishtown, NJ

Published on November nd, 2010

Tough Mudder. If you’re an adventure athlete then you’ve heard of it by now. And even if you haven’t, at least one of your friends has a Facebook profile picture of themselves running through fire, jumping off a ledge or ducking under some barbed wire in a mud pit. Make no mistake about it; the Tough Mudder Event series is popular and growing rapidly. If you had a chance to read our review of their inaugural event at Bear Mountain in Pennsylvania, you probably know that we didn’t really care for it. Being a new event, it was chock full of logistical snafus, on-course issues, broken obstacles and perhaps most evident, a missing sense of identity.  

However, it’s been six months since that springtime misstep and let me be the first to say: WOW, what a difference a little time and a lot of effort can make! It seems that after their May premiere, the folks at TM did something that every good company does: they listened to their consumer. Bear Mountain was too easy? Fine, here’s a longer course and a healthy dose of PEDs for our obstacles. Logistical issues abound? Forget about it, parking’s aplenty when you hold your race at a racetrack. Poor on-course support? No sweat, we’ll staff our aide stations with members of the military. Basically, every gripe we had with TM, from the parking to the finish line was corrected, and it was evident that this was a very different beast than before, and that beast is now one magnificent Liger.   

Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was awesome.

For starters, let’s take a look at the course. Now stretching roughly 12 miles and boasting 19 obstacles, the course was a Rambo wannabe’s dream come true. Set in Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the folks at TM had a virtual sandbox in which to build anything they wanted. By taking advantage of the terrain’s waterways, racetracks, motocross tracks and trails, designers put together a  course spread out enough to avoid major traffic jams, while still keeping us wondering what was around the next corner (or next mud mountain). It’s hard to pick which obstacles made our highlights list as many of those we conquered had their own sadistic charm to them.  From walking the plank into frigid water to climbing a mud mountain only achievable via a human chain, each obstacle gave “mudders” (what TM calls participants) a shot of adrenaline with a bad-ass chaser . My personal fav, the mystery obstacle of live electrical wires dangling overhead while you surge (pun very much intended) your way through some mud. A word of caution, wet winter hats and live electrical wires don’t mix, as I found myself on the end of a zap that left me feeling like I took a Pacquiao left hook. If I’m nit-picking (which I have to do, it’s my job), the only thing missing was the “Insane Bolt”, which was to be a last minute timed sprint to the finish. Though I had little left for it, I think it would have been the perfect touch to an already spectacular course. Plus, I’m a racer at heart, and who doesn’t love trying to outrun a few folks over the last few meters?   

Adventure races take note, THIS is an obstacle.

Organizationally, things were smooth all around. Registration was a breeze, as was packet pick-up. Volunteers were friendly and announcements kept mudders in the loop regarding their wave start time. Worth noting though were the spectator tickets which had to be purchased prior to the event for anyone who wanted to head out on-course without racing. Our Sherpa/support crew (thanks Erin!) did indeed purchase a ticket, but intentional or not, it remained unchecked throughout the day. The only other concerns from people I spoke to were regarding on-course staff. Though I understand it goes completely against the theme of the event, a few people said they would have liked to see a few more friendly faces (other than those of fellow mudders), just in case things went terribly wrong. I should be clear that this wasn’t and shouldn’t be a major concern. After all, a big focus here is on camaraderie and helping your fellow mudders along the way.  

Which brings us to atmosphere. TM makes it clear that it isn’t a race. In fact, any references to racing were nowhere to be found in any TM propaganda, save for one elite wave that goes off first. For the other 95% of participants, it’s a challenge that requires teamwork. Whether it was helping someone get up a steep and muddy hill or over a 10 foot wall, mudders helped each other up, over, under and through every obstacle. It’s an oddly enjoyable feeling, forming a human ladder with your teammate, only to have someone jump up and grasp your ankles in a last ditch effort to reach the top of a peak. All other concerns were, well, not concerns. Englishtown was about an hour outside of New York City and as mentioned, parking was a breeze (and free), and overnight travel wasn’t needed. But being an hour outside of the city, and closer to many retails outlets, hotels and motels were available for anyone in need.  

Course: A+  It was spectacular. The raceway was a perfect venue for an event like this and TM took full advantage of all it had to offer. The longer course made for less crowding and the obstacles were significantly beefed up since their last go around in PA.  

Organization: A-  No major complaints here. Maybe a few more course direction markings and a few more staffers on course would be nice. Modifying the spectator tickets program would help as well. How about spectator tickets in exchange for an extra donation to the Wounded Warrior Project?  

Atmosphere: A+  Camaraderie is the name of the game. If you don’t feel like helping others while doing this, then you must be dead inside.  

Logistics: A+   Getting to and fro was the easiest part of the day and there were zero complaints from our camp as well as others.  

Overall: A+   It’s our first A+, so that should tell you something. Tough Mudder was an extraordinary event which made for an extraordinary experience. After a rough start back in May, TM has addressed every concern we had and is highly recommended for anyone looking for to ditch the clock in favor of a full day of adventure.  

-Adrian  

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Comments

  1. Posted by Tough Mudder LLC on November 23rd, 2010, 08:09

    Many many thanks for this great review. At Tough Mudder we try very hard to put on the best events known to man and as you can see we take feedback seriously and make sure we learn from our mistakes. We are very glad you had a blast promise going forward all our events will be as tough (if not tougher) and just as well organized. For details of our upcoming events please go to

    http://toughmudder.com/events/

    If anyone else has any comments, we want to make sure we hear them so please email us at info@toughmudder.com.

  2. Posted by Bryan White on November 23rd, 2010, 08:24

    This is good news. I’m registered for the May 7th TM in Vermont and I’d only recently seen the reviews and blogs about the events earlier this year which were less than favorable. I became a little concerned that I paid $100 to stand around waiting for an obstacle to become available.

  3. Posted by erin bolger on November 23rd, 2010, 08:48

    This was the best day! every tough mudder was GREAT! Men didn’t look at women different if we had a problem getting over those 12ft walls!

  4. Posted by James Armstrong on November 23rd, 2010, 09:01

    Did anyone see that guy who carried a rubber chicken through the whole course. What a silly goose. Great article! It was a great course, I wouldnt have minded another water stop or two. This was a fitting event to support our troops!

  5. Posted by kevin anthony on November 23rd, 2010, 09:03

    I cannot believe how organized this race was. I’ve done 5k’s that werent this organized. for the most part I have no complaints except that there was not enough drinks or “extras” muscle milk available for those who finished at 3:00pm. Other then that great job!!!

  6. Posted by Nik Kivich on November 23rd, 2010, 09:08

    I ran the event with a few friends on Saturday and agree with almost all of your review. We had a few friends following us with cameras and their experience was that the staff members didn’t really know where events were going on and the map that they found had obstacle numbers that didn’t match up the actual course so it made it tougher for them to follow us around and they wound up missing us on a few events. Hopefully that logistical aspect can be approved because otherwise it was a great event and we had an awesome time, and we’ll probably be doing another one in the spring.

  7. Posted by David josefsberg on November 23rd, 2010, 09:11

    Loved the event! No waits at the obstacles……had so much fun! My wife and I are 40 years old and we didn’t have much trouble completing it! We did train pretty hard, and we are runners! Our team was awesome…..We will be doing it again! Go Voodoo Monkey Claw!

  8. Posted by Jules on November 23rd, 2010, 10:15

    I’m so insanely jealous that I missed this! I won’t make that mistake again. IN!!!

  9. Posted by Lauren on November 23rd, 2010, 10:26

    I completely agree with your review Adrian! The event was a total blast (and thanks to you and the rest of our for helping get me over the giant walls – and through everything else). If I’m nitpicking, I would have liked to see more staff at the jump into the water. It was so cold, it seemed like there was a possibility that someone could get disoriented and start having difficulties, and I think it would be safer if someone with a walkie talkie (and perhaps some CPR training) was on hand in case something went wrong. But all in all, it was a great event. I’m already looking forward to next year!

  10. Posted by Lauren on November 23rd, 2010, 10:27

    Oops – that was supposed to say thanks to you and the rest of our TEAM.

    DANGER! ZONE!

  11. Posted by Darren Frost on November 23rd, 2010, 11:03

    I am 42 and trained with 6 to 8 mile runs in the cold with UA cold gear, almost daily for three months, pull ups, push ups and basic training type stuff; and had no issue completing in 2 hours.

    Regarding the mud mountain was easy with trail running shoes, Brooks Cascadians, that shed mud easily, I went up the middle and you need a running start. some more random comments
    - They could have had more walls.
    - they mud mile was awesome
    - the shock therapy at the end was no biggie
    - wear tighter clothing, people were dumping their heavy shorts everywhere
    - they need not provide a course map, just run be surprised
    - need more obstacles: longer and tougher
    - ditch the fire run, its a joke, just smoke up the place
    - where a neoprene vest (prevents hypo)

  12. Posted by Logan on November 23rd, 2010, 11:10

    A+ indeed!! COME BACK TO THIS LOCATION!

  13. Posted by Craig on November 23rd, 2010, 11:29

    I had a heck of a time with the Mud Mountain, but I was wearing Vibram KSO’s and had NO traction whatsoever. After sliding down three times, I was forced to climb up the side of the trail. I still was slipping and sliding and almost fell off the side of the mountain. Next time I’ll have to wear “actual” shoes.

  14. Posted by Tom on November 23rd, 2010, 11:32

    This was my second Tough Mudder race and not until this race did I become aware fo the fact that no part of the outrageous registration fees goes towards the Wounded Warrior Project.

    I find it hard to believe that every little bit of registration and spectator fees go to operating costs. I think it’s despicable that they cannot even put $1 of every registration to wounded warrior. This weekend alone would have raised over $8,000 for them.

    I plan on contacting Tough Mudder about this and I hope they reconsider how they are doing things. If not, I will try to make this as public as possible and will find another race to run where some of the proceeds actually go to a good cause. I hope the rest of you will back em or anyone else who is willing to take this stance.

  15. Posted by Tom on November 23rd, 2010, 11:32

    This was my second Tough Mudder race and not until this race did I become aware fo the fact that no part of the outrageous registration fees goes towards the Wounded Warrior Project.

    I find it hard to believe that every little bit of registration and spectator fees go to operating costs. I think it’s despicable that they cannot even put $1 of every registration to wounded warrior. This weekend alone would have raised over $8,000 for them.

    I plan on contacting Tough Mudder about this and I hope they reconsider how they are doing things. If not, I will try to make this as public as possible and will find another race to run where some of the proceeds actually go to a good cause. I hope the rest of you will back me or anyone else who is willing to take this stance.

  16. Posted by yitzy on November 23rd, 2010, 12:33

    This event was amazing i am definitely in for next year your review was spot on the best part of my day was getting up the mud wall then some guy grabbing my ankles as i leaned all the way down to help others up mudders helping mudders=awesome

  17. Posted by Tough Mudder LLC on November 23rd, 2010, 12:45

    Tough Mudder has raised over $600k this year for the Wounded Warrior Project this year. We hope to raise $3 million for them in 2011. WWP’s total budget is in the region of $18m making Tough Mudder LLC the charity’s largest single contributor.

    Should you have any further questions on the significant sum we raise for injured US servicemen and women, we respectfully ask you email Tough Mudder at the usual address.

  18. Posted by Paul on November 23rd, 2010, 12:52

    Tom – the event has raised $600k so far this year for The Wounded Warrior Project (per the announcer at the start). That is, by any stretch of the imagination awesome. I ran and was somewhat embarrassed to only put $200 in the pot, but it’s a great cause and if The Tough Mudder guys didn’t put on the event then that would be $600k less for the Wounded Warriors.
    Mind you it was also great that there were so many army guys there – not sure I would have got up the cliff hanger without a couple of the marines pulling me up!

  19. Posted by Reggie on November 23rd, 2010, 13:14

    First of all, I had so much fun, thought it was very well run. If I had to nitpick and offer some critisism,

    -Finish line was extremely anti-climatic. Would have liked some loud blasting music, fireworks, an actual insane bolt obstacle, something you had to break through to get to the end, anything. My team finished and we all looked around and said, oh that’s it, we’re done?
    -Music throughout the course? It was kind of quiet at times and some music would not have been hard or expensive and could have made the atmosphere a little better.

    Thats all for now. Thanks.

  20. Posted by Rich on November 23rd, 2010, 14:27

    I can see why people were disappointed in the lack of a formal Insane Bolt obstacle, but this part of the course was a highlight for me and my team. Soaked and spent, we lined up, shoulder to shoulder, without anyone telling us to do it, and took off running as hard as we could to the first orange cone, which we agreed was close enough to 100 meters away. We leaned on each other all day and to finish like that was just amazing.

  21. Posted by wife on November 23rd, 2010, 14:54

    i agree there should have been a more climactic finish line…music, someone announcing your name/number…anything! after all that, these guys and girls deserved somewhat of a fanfare! also, TM was not really “fan friendly”…i was there taking pics of my hsband and his team and half the time i had no clue where to go, the map didn’t help much…plus we couldn’t get near some of the harder obstacles to take pics, which i would have LOVED to get. also, $15 PLUS TAX to spectate AND you had to buy the tix in advance? TM could have raised SO much more $$ for Wounded Warrior if they made the tix like $5 the day of and promoted it, we had SO MANY friends and family who wanted to come the day of…really something for them to look into for next year…other than that it is a great event for a very worthy cause!!! so much fun!

  22. Posted by frank xtreme team on November 23rd, 2010, 15:00

    I had an awesome time at tri state tough mudder in englishtown,,, I will be at the april PA one than back to E-TOWN in november…. It was an amazing course, alot of good people helping each other,, I know i helped alot of people on the berlin walls, I think i threw one guy over it, i didnt realize he only weighed maybe 120lbs, if your reading this dude sorry,,,,lol
    had great time for great cause..

  23. Posted by Danny U on November 23rd, 2010, 15:12

    Tom – You did this event and are seriously complaining about this? Please. I do a lot of these mud run events and other races like Spartan Race and Warrior Dash don’t raise any money for charity. Tough Mudder raised more than 300K from this weekend’s event alone. So they are doing good and running a profitable business, and since when is that a crime?
    They give participants a hefty price break to encourage us to raise money, which raises money and builds awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. If 2000 people took this $25 charity discount at the Tri-State event, that means Tough Mudder essentially ate $50K in profits in order to make this fundraising campaign happen. They are using the power of community to raise money for a great cause, and I think that’s pretty cool. I don’t know of too many start-up companies who are willing (or can) give up $100K in profit in their first year of business for charity. I give kudos to the people at Tough Mudder for a creative and successful approach.

  24. Posted by MudderMary on November 23rd, 2010, 16:59

    Tom – you’re an idiot. Next time register early at the lower registration fee and donate the rest to the Wounded Warrior Project. I, for one, wasn’t aware of the WWP before Mudder. I’m sure that in addition to the hard cash Mudder has raised, the value of the word-of-mouth Mudder has generated for WWP is significant.
    The course was well-crafted, well-staffed and well-organized. Which costs money. Which is why they charged a registration fee. Then they went the extra mile to organize fundraising for a very important cause.
    I think I said it best in my initial statement: You’re an idiot.

  25. Posted by Gio C. on November 23rd, 2010, 17:42

    Overall great race! My teammate broke her ankle while another couldn’t finished race due to a cramp that threw him to the ground. I realized that you could get injured in this race and that it was really a tough race. The finish part of the race does need to be a little more dramatic. But great job guys (TM) We are thinking of running in April.

  26. Posted by Erin on November 24th, 2010, 10:15

    As a spectator, I was really pleased with the fact that this course was “open,” allowing me to cheer for my friends and take pictures as well. Well done, organizers. Although, no one ever did check that spectator bracelet I purchased…but I am not complaining. That would have slowed me down! Plus, being so close to the action made me anxious for a crack at the course myself…I can’t wait to sign up for the next one!

  27. Posted by Steve Carallo on November 24th, 2010, 11:04

    This was my first athletic event and it just happened to be on my 37th birthday! Finishing the course this tough was extraordinary for me.

  28. Posted by Tom on November 25th, 2010, 17:04

    I feel that with registration costs going higher than they already are, it would be easy to raise even more money above and beyond donations by taking even $1 per registration and contributing it automatically to WWP.

    If thinking about rasing more money for WWP makes me an idiot then I’m an idiot.

  29. Posted by JimmyJ on December 1st, 2010, 16:28

    Tom, you are indeed an idiot. You’ve suggested a way for a company to raise $8,000 when they’ve already gotten an impressive $600,000. Tough Mudder doesn’t have to raise money for the charity, and you being rude about them is hardly the encouragement we should be giving to this admirable organization.

    If you want to rant at someone, rant at Warrior Dash or Spartan Race, who as the guy up above already said, give absolutely NOTHING back.

  30. Posted by Jeff on December 2nd, 2010, 09:39

    I completed this course with my wife, my bro-in-law, and two friends. It was the toughest thing I have ever done. Prior to the race,we were regretting signing up. However, after it was over, we were ecstatic. The accomplishment is incredible. We worked as a team to make sure all of us made it.

  31. Posted by Maria on December 3rd, 2010, 09:01

    Hey, I came upon this after searching for Tough Mudder Reviews, because honestly after hearing what my friends said I was a little unsure if I am the kind of person who could handle this. Glad to hear you guys liked it so much! I think I will try it.

  32. Posted by Rob on December 18th, 2010, 09:12

    Great Race, lots of improvements from the May event!

    The obstacles were great, I ran the whole thing in Vibrams KSO Trek Sports, I had no trouble getting traction on any of the obstacles. The mud mountain was a “piece of cake,” first try right up the middle.

    I have one complaint and two suggestion:
    1. We are not given timing chips for the event. (the “this is not a race, its an event” idea is B.S.) With this high a price timing should not be an issue.
    2. The after Party: re-design the layout for next year – 2 fire pits with the band between them – food on the outer perimeter. The only thing better about the May event was the after party, of course the weather had something to do with that.
    3. distribute the t shirts with the packets, too many people missed out on getting theirs if they were in the final heats.

    Once again great job on all the improvements Tough Mudder, it’s great to see that your team has taken peoples comments to heart.

  33. Posted by Dee on January 2nd, 2011, 13:22

    Thanks for the great review, Adrian! If by chance, you or anyone else who like to tell their Tough Mudder experience for an interview to ToughestMudder.com, please feel free to contact us at ToughestMudder@gmail.com. Thanks and as always, TRAIN HARD!

  34. Posted by Jay on January 19th, 2011, 09:13

    I’m signed up for the may 7th mt. snow TM with 13 other guys on our team (one of which is a returning soldier from Afghanistan)and I have to admit that I’m concerned about not being able to finish this race…started training (running,plyometrics,core training)a couple of weeks ago and I would love to get some info from people that have done this i.e.,what to wear?How much distance running did you really have to do?,Etc…I just don’t want to embarass myself…LOL.

  35. Posted by Kyle on January 28th, 2011, 18:10

    Would love to compete in one. The $100 entry fee is a bit ridiculous IMO. My buddies and I are med students and don’t have the cash lying around. Guess we’ll have to wait until we have jobs lol. Looks like a blast though, wish I would have though of it. With as many participants as they have the guys running this thing are making some serious dough.

  36. Posted by Debbie on February 7th, 2011, 12:44

    I am also signed up for the NE TM @ Mt Snow and doing the Sunday event. I like Jay have the same questions … (what to wear? How much distance running did you really have to do?) I am a 50 yr. old female, a fitness trainer and I do martial arts. I do weekly boot camps and am cardio fit although never ran a race in my life! Started my 3 month additional training for this event but am still a bit intimidated (no scared!) We have a team of 8 going so with team work and with help from fellow TM’ers, finishing this would definitely be an accomplishment.

  37. Posted by Adrian on February 8th, 2011, 09:18

    Hi Debbie, congrats on signing up for your first adventure race. The Mt Snow event looks to be a great time and we’re excited to run it as well. As for training, that’s a tough call. I’m a triathlete at heart and found that my training was more than adequate for the last 2 TM events we covered. I would suggest plenty of running (w/hills, it’s on a ski mountain after all!), and some upper body work and you should be fine.

    As for clothes, you can’t go wrong with layers. Especially stuff you don’t mind losing them along the way. Also, I highly recommend against any baggy or loose fitting clothing. It’ll get in the way on certain obstacles and it will also bog you down during the water events.

    I hope this points you in the right direction. Have fun training and we’ll see you in VT!

  38. Posted by Paul on April 21st, 2011, 13:34

    I think it would be much more effective for OUR WOUNDED SOLDIERS if it was made more clear to all the participants that none of the entry fees for Tough Mudder go to the Wounded Warrior Project.
    Instead, it is the additional money that individual participants raise separately that gets donated. I was, like a lot of people under the assumption (incorrectly) that our entry fees were going to this great cause. Had I more closely looked into the TM web site, and known about this earlier, I would have been soliciting donations from my family, friends, and colleagues.
    I think Tough Mudder LLC should be more forthcoming about this. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great they holding these events and raising awareness of our Wounded Soldiers, but they could be doing more effectively by making it clearer to everyone. Remember, it is the people participating in the TM event that are raising the additional money to donate to Wounded Warrriors, not TM LLC.

  39. Posted by Matt on April 25th, 2011, 02:56

    Thanks for all these comments and reviews. We are currently getting a team together of PSU ROTC people to start training for next spring’s TM.

    Looks like a lot of great suggestions. Is there a suggested size for teams (I’m guessing no maximum suggestion, just like a minimum, cause right now there are 3 of us that just started talking about it 2 day ago and decided to definitely do it).

  40. Posted by robk on April 25th, 2011, 15:16

    For me and my friends the NJ was our first. We’re all in our early 40′s and found the course one of the toughest most fun events we’ve every done. We’re doing the VA mudder in 2011 and can’t wait.

    On thing I’ll do differently is not get completely wrecked the night before. I’m not proud of it but I ran the course on no sleep after being up all night “purging”. Only thing I could keep down was a bottle of gingerale and a banana right before race time. Ok, so I’m a little bit proud of it :)

  41. Posted by catherine wilson on May 27th, 2011, 12:04

    Hi Debbie – I am 52 and just signed up for TM Tri-State in NJ. I have been looking for women in the 50 + age group who have competed. Just haven’t found many. Could you e-mail me at cghwilson@gmail.com so I can pick your brain?
    Thanks -

  42. Posted by Andy on September 19th, 2011, 19:27

    Sounds like it was a great race, but it also sounds like it certainly is not the toughest event on the planet, by any metric…. Lots of folks commenting on here were in fairly decent shape and finishing in two hours apparently. Awesome, perhaps, but let’s spare the macho rhetoric a bit, or else simply acknowledge it for what it is, a marketing tool that gets more racers by allowing us to feel more bad ass than we actually are…..

  43. Posted by Larry on November 13th, 2011, 19:53

    Just came from Englishtown (11/13) as a spectator. Three complaints: asked several (3-4) staff for help in reading the map/directing me to a specific obstacle – None were able to help me; the paramedics sitting in their ambulance couldn’t even tell me which obstacle was where (how would they know where to go if a call came in for medical help?); maybe you can put a big fat number (visible at least 50 feet away)next to the obstacle so spectators can figure out where/what each one is. Compliments: cops were really friendly in helping with directions in/out

    Overall – Awesome!!

  44. Posted by Charlie Mitrea on November 16th, 2011, 02:47

    IT SHOULD BE CALLED THE COLD MUDDER…..THERE WAS NOTHING TOUGH ABOUT IT….IT WAS JUST COLD. guys…girls….fat…tall….small….young….old…..everyone finishes this “fun yippiddydoo event”. Your climbing up walls and running through mud….like when you were 6 years old. In good weather it’s hard to take it seriously…..in English Town New Jersey in November, COLD…VERY VERY VERY COLD. IN FACT….SCARY COLD. Other than that it’s a big mud run climbing over some hay and swinging on some bars here and there….k….it was cold.

  45. Posted by Tyler on March 21st, 2012, 19:01

    I haven’t seen a lot of photos of video of this course, looks pretty nice. Every one seems to have it’s own flavor and unique twist on the obstacles.

    My experiences with Tough Mudder have been largely the same. It’s been a blast and looking forward to this years event in my area.

  46. Posted by Lester on June 29th, 2012, 05:45

    I thought the tough mudder event was a great test of your current fitness levels, a unique event. I train crossfit daily and thought TM placed more demand on my body than completing the london marathon, I am now considering world toughest mudder. It is as difficult as you make it, if you give it your all taking on all obstacles with speed and run the course it is exhausting, obviously people can walk some parts and it is less tiring….my advice give it your all

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