“My star sprinkles will bring color and happiness to people everywhere!”
This weekend in Los Angeles Tough Mudder unveiled their new Mudder Legion program. To become a Legionnaire you must have run at least two Tough Mudders. According to Tough Mudder’s website the Legion’s benefits include:
Access to Legionnaires’ Loop: The rite of passage to becoming a part of Mudder Legion – includes several extra repeater only obstacles.
An Exclusive Obstacle: A brand new heart-pounding obstacle just for Mudder Legion. We promise you will not be disappointed. This is our most bad-ass obstacle yet. Truly.
Option to Bypass Electroshock Therapy: You’ve earned the right to skip the shock and head straight for the beer. Or if you’re a sucker for punishment, don’t skip it – your choice.
Legionnaire Headbands: In addition to your orange Tough Mudder headband, you will also earn a colored headband that symbolizes the number of Tough Mudders you have crushed.
Responsibility to your fellow Mudders: You are now a leader on the course. Go out and show others in Mudder Nation how it’s done and give them a hand
In order to take part in the program you simply walk over to the Legion tent after registering for the event. If you have previously signed up online your name will be on file with the amount of Mudders you have completed. You are then given a wristband that reflects that number. Upon completion of the Mudder (and receiving your typical orange headband) you then go to the Legionnaire Rewards tent and get your colored headband(s). Having completed 10+ Mudders I took home quite a haul.
Many Facebook groups have exploded with debates about the pros and cons of this new program. Some see it as silly and unnecessary and others see it as a nice way of acknowledging your hard work out on the course.
I’m pretty sure I understand why TM decided to implement this program. Just before the event started and the runners were waiting in the corral for the “go” sign, TMHQ’s Alex Patterson got on the mic. During his intro he asked all of the first time Tough Mudders to raise their hands. It was an overwhelming number. Probably 97%. Later he had everyone take a knee and asked everyone who did two or more Mudders to stand up. Then it was three or more. Then four or more until he reached 10+. Needless to say the number of people standing dropped of quickly. As the last Mudder on my feet I was given a standing ovation. At that point I think I figured it out. Many prospective Mudders looked envious and were quick to give me a pat on the back and a firm handshake. It looks like TMHQ has set a goal for the noobs to be that last person standing in the corral and earn the respect and accolades of their fellow Mudders.
Call it a brilliant marketing ploy or simply a way of TMHQ to say thanks to their loyal customers. I really don’t think it matters. Personally, I was never a headband counter. I don’t think that having done more Mudders makes you any better than the next person. Then again, I know there are tons of particpants out there that covet their headbands and even create display cases in their homes. Some even wear their WTM bibs to regular Tough Mudders. They love to show off to other Mudders what they’ve been through and all they accomplished. I get that. Those kinds of people will no doubt love this new Mudder Legion that will set them apart from the crowd.
Along with the new headbands TM has added the “Legionnaires’ Loop”. In LA it was an extra half mile or so with a few obstacles and the most killer version of Mud Mile I have ever done. Legionnaires also have the option to bypass the Electroshock Therapy obstacle if they so choose. I chose. I’ve been shocked enough fucking times. Not sure if a Legionnaire who has done only two or more Mudders has paid their dues enough to opt out of Electroshock but that’s not for me to decide.
Moving forward, I don’t plan on taking home that plethora of colored headbands at my future Mudders. If I were to do just three more TM’s this season I could take home 18 more multi-colored headbands. I don’t need that. I’ve always been happy with my single, lame-ass orange one. I always thought that award was brilliant in it’s tongue-in-cheek approach. Take one of the most mundane and gaudy objects and elevate it’s stature to a prized possession among endurance athletes. I still get a kick out of that.
According to the numbers it looks like Tough Mudder needs more repeat customers. I think the Mudder Legion is a nice start. People like me really don’t need that extra incentive to continue doing Tough Mudders. I’ll keep coming back regardless. But, for those that like being recognized for their previous accomplishments this may be the dangling carrot that gets them to pull the trigger and sign up for more events.
Andy Thom is better know to most OCR fans as The Mustache Man. This video from 2011 introduced millions of us to Tough Mudder. You can keep up with him over at mustachemantraining.com. This is his first article for Obstacle Racing Media.