Over 10k expected in ‘Tough Mudder NorCal’

SONOMA, Calif. ­­– More than 10,000 competitors from around the world have been competing at Sonoma Raceway since Saturday and are on course today to see if they are “Tough Mudders.”

Although the track is best known for motorsports, Tough Mudder NorCal is strictly people-powered. It has been challenging participants for 5 to 10 muddy miles packed with obstacles.

The track itself would be challenging enough, with twisting turns, rolling hills and elevation changes. That’s why it was chosen as a site Having the event at Sonoma Raceway also means Tough Mudder NorCal finally has come to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tough Mudder is an endurance event series that sends participants through miles-long obstacle courses that test both their mental and physical strengths.

Patterned after Billy Wilson’s “Tough Guy” races, the Tough Mudder series was developed in 2010 by Will Dean, a former British counter terrorism officer, and Guy Livingstone, a former corporate attorney. Although both are from Great Britain, the two were living in New York at the time.

Dean came up with the concept while studying at Harvard Business School, and it was a semifinalist in an annual business plan contest.

Tough Mudder events soon started taking place in Europe, Ireland, New Zealand and later to Asia and the Middle East. More than 3 million people worldwide have participated in Tough Mudder challenges.

The contests are designed to emphasize teamwork. Teammates often must work cooperatively to succeed in overcoming the obstacles.

Those obstacles often incorporate elements that play on common human fears – fire, water, electric shocks and heights. Although each event has its own specialty challenges, several are considered “signature” obstacles that are incorporated into the longer ”Tough Mudder Full” routes of 10 to 12 miles.

In the “Arctic Enema,” participants must jump into a large bin full of ice water, dive under a plank and pull themselves out on the other side. “Electroshock Therapy” incorporates live wires hanging over a field of mud that participants must cross.

The “Funky Monkey” is a set of uneven monkey bars that are made slick with butter and mud, then placed over a pit of cold water. To defeat “Everest,” participants must run up a quarter pole covered in mud and grease.

The 5-mile course, called Tough Mudder Half, has many of the same obstacles, but the 13 in this course doesn’t include fire, ice or electrical shocks.

The Tougher Mudder events are timed, and the newest contest, Tough Mudder 5K is three miles with 10 obstacles that require plenty of teamwork.

Today’s feature is the Toughest Mudder is an eight-hour obstacle course race that starts at 8 a.m. Teams will be competing for prizes of up to $5,000, to be awarded to the first place male and female entries.

Sonoma Raceway is at 29355 Arnold Drive, Sonoma.

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