Get Out There

Hundreds Sick After Race

From your comments on social media and reviews, we know that many of our customers are training or participating in different sporting events. Events are a great way to stay fit, motivate yourself and find a community! If you love participating in 5K, 10K or marathon races, that’s wonderful. They can be fun days out and leave you with an incredible sense of accomplishment!

Tough Mudder obstacle races have been held since 2010. They are based on military obstacle courses and can range from 5k to 24-hour races! People who participate in them rave about them. We know some people who participated in them, and they loved the experience and came away covered in mud and wanting to do it again! It tests your fitness in a unique and memorable way. Participants’ finishing times aren’t recorded, and people are expected to help one another through the obstacles — it’s not competitive, as the focus is on accomplishing the goal of finishing.

Unfortunately, many have walked away from a Tough Mudder race feeling not so great. They will remember it for the wrong reasons. At least 350 people have reported illnesses after racing in Sonoma County, California.

In an advisory, the county said, “The Tough Mudder race involved extensive skin exposure to mud. Most affected persons have pustular rash, fever, myalgias, and headache. These symptoms could be indicative of a minor illness called Swimmers’ Itch, but they can also indicate a Staph infection or other more serious bacterial infection such as Aeromonas.”

Aeromonas is a bacteria that can be found in mud. While the county isn’t sure what caused the problem, the large number of cases makes them lean toward Aeromonas, and they have asked doctors to test infected patients for the bacteria.

I’ve heard of at least 350 [people] on an email thread I got myself involved in,” participant Chris Palakos said, “anywhere on my body that touched the ground had red spots.”

The Tough Mudder company emailed all the participants in the race to tell them of the outbreak so they could watch for signs of infection. The company claims they followed safety protocols before and during the race.

However, many participants claimed they could “smell cow manure” during the race. One woman said the smell was so strong she couldn’t finish some obstacles. One Reddit user called it negligent while talking about the symptoms they and five of their friends had after participating in the race.  

There is a high probability you will be exposed to bacteria if you crawl through mud and water. The fact that an outbreak like this hasn’t happened in the past is somewhat surprising.  

I’m not surprised this would happen once in a while,” said Ian Young, an infectious disease expert and associate professor with Toronto Metropolitan Univ. He stressed that, as events like this happen every week, outbreaks are surprisingly rare.  

Tough Mudder has organized thousands of races in the past. This is the first with a massive health problem attached to it. If you have signed up for one and are looking forward to it, we wouldn’t necessarily swear it off. Instead, we recommend discussing this event and your health risks with your doctor. If you decide to participate, promptly shower after the race and monitor your health after the event.

Banner image: Sean Foster via Unsplash

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