Shirtgate 2015

Finisher shirts have become an active discussion on OCR social media in the last 24 hours.

Spartan Race announced 3 different finisher shirts for their various basic race distances. The colors coincide with the medals of the Sprint, Super, and Beast. The comments were mostly positive as many had suggested this exact change in the past. Although, we’re still curious as to why they didn’t spend a few more minutes in the art department, as it appears they may have rushed out this high school debate club, circa 1988, quality photo.

Spartan 3 Shirts

On the other hand, Tough Mudder, riding high on recent buzz of great press on new obstacles, decided zero free finisher shirts (if you register after Feb 1) was the way to go for 2015. They just released a blog post which states in part:

In order to bring you what’s most important — top-quality, exhilarating new obstacles — we’ve had to prioritize, and finisher t-shirts will no longer be part of the registration package. We don’t make decisions like this lightly, and our decisions were made with the goal of providing you the best possible overall event experience in the industry. That said, we want to be clear that anyone who registers for a 2015 event before February 1 will receive a free Tough Mudder t-shirt after finishing.

You can read the entire Tough Mudder blog post here.

The question is, does it matter to you?

Do either of these decisions change your mind about doing or not doing a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder?

Cover photo credit: (Jason Kryk / The Windsor Star and Spartan Race)

Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.
  1. Yeah it really kinda sucks… I’ve been to lots of Tough Mudders that have been half assed. SO they don’t always give us the best they have……. i.e. cutting out certain obstacles due to low attendance… So now GOOD JOB you finished a race here is a headband and a bear…. (cheap) at least with the Tshirt it didn’t feel cheap

  2. I like the idea of different shirts for different lengths! I think mudders idea to pull shirts is a little weird , they are not offering ang price reduction , or any other compensation. I know of one company that offers 10 dollars pff reg if you do not get a shirt. And finishers shirts are a standard for allroad races, and trail races as well. I do not understand this move.

  3. i love getting a shirt for tough mudder i wear them all the time along with my head band i love it please don’t take it away

  4. TM is getting greedy, there subtitle changes from 2012 to 2013, 13 to 14, and now this crap. Prices keep going up and things are just going to get worse. I used to do all the Texas ones, but now I’ll probably just stick to my local one and expand my horizons to Spartan and Battlefrog….sorry TM, you’ve lost my team’s money.

    10x Mudder and WTM vet

  5. I’m glad to see Spartan doing the three different shirts. I didn’t bother picking up my last one because I already had a few. But TM, getting greedy! Don’t they know that the shirts provide publicity? You get a well built person wearing one at the gym, people are going to notice. I stopped doing the TM after having to wade through horse crap on a course, over & over again.

  6. I really like the new Spartan shirts, because in the past, with the same generic shirt for every distance, I got the coinciding patch and had it sewn on the back of the generic finisher shirt, so I’d know what race it was from. Good job Spartan!
    I’m already registered for my 2015 Tough Mudder, so I’m happy to get another finisher t-shirt. I understand their idea of cutting costs for better obstacles, but EVERY event has finisher shirts. Don’t be the ONE that doesn’t have them. Plus, it’s great year-round advertising for you – from us who wear them all the time and chat it up when people see them and ask about them.

  7. ive noticed the overall challenge of Tough Mudder events had gone down the past few years and the quality of the course has suffered including reduced capacity at some obstacles notably funky monkey and Berlin Walls, causing severe bottlenecks. Regardless of shirts I had already decided not to bother with any more of their events without significant improvements.

  8. I was on the fence about TM but now I know I won’t be doing it. My race shirts are like a badge of honor. I wear my Spartan shirt proudly and any time I see another person in thiers I always say “nice shirt” may sound stupid but the shirt is a big deal to me and I will not do a TM unless I get a shirt the headband is stupid I am not going to wear that to the store etc. Get rid of the dumb headband

  9. Really.. Most of you the deal breaker is getting a T shirt. Forget about all obstacle innovation from Tough Mudder and instead settle for the same backyard obstacles year after year offer by Spartan. I do both races and think it is a good move by Spartan. I will be earning several Tough Mudder shirts since I got my act together before Feb 1.

  10. Well thank goodness Spartan has sat up and taken notice from race feedback. After having done 6 Spartan events (2 trifectas), I like the move to the coloured logo for the Sprint, Super and Beast. So, what do the UB folk get?. Great concept regardless. Now, if only they improve on the quality of the t-shirts since the change from the original ones (which were very good). The 3 shirts I got from the 3 events in 2014 were just crap….they are poorer quality and the cut is rubbish – if you’re a chick, you get to choose from a bloke’s size. Seriously????? Bring back the girl cut t-shirt like you did the first year – and considering around half your participants are women, perhaps Spartan should heed this advice. just sayin’

    TM eliminating finisher shirts – I am shaking my head at this one – if you’re going to ditch anything, ditch that stupid headband’. Who the hell wears a headband….well maybe if we’re in 1984 we might. Get serious TM, those finisher t-shirts that so many people proudly wear are your best FREE advertising you’re ever going to get (well, aside from the poultry sum of supplying the t-shirt). Disappointing to say the least, and considering that TM is one of the more expensive events on the calendar.

    Will it be a decider between doing an TM or not? Jury’s out on that just now.

  11. I am ok with no shirts since I have soooo many TM as well as shirts from other races. I do not even get to wear all the ones that I have now. Always have been and I am still a Bling man. I would love nothing more than a Medal but that’s TM’s thing is the headbands! I hope that TM lives up to what they that they’re going to do. Which I am sure that they will!! People pretty much complain about any and every race. TM can’t make everybody happy. The whiners and complainers are everywhere. See you on the course!! #CMM

  12. I love the different Spartan shirts,however I def don’t agree with TM doing away with theirs! I wear my finisher shirts proudly and was def looking foward to getting one after doing my first TM this year. I’d support doing away with the free beer more.

  13. I think this is something that TM will regret !! Prices are becoming a huge issue for those that participate in OCRs. So little things like T-shirts, bag check cost, parking & finisher metals will be the kind of thing that will be a make or brake for people’s choices of which events they will be going to. As small a thing as T-shirts may appear, it is a part of the bonding experience for some. I for one have to say when I’m at the gym or out on the trail and I see an OCR shirt I find myself inquiring “What race?”, “How many?”, “When did you start?” and most every time I have been met with a positive response, or at least a head nod.

  14. The TM tech shirts are a great advertising tool. I get asked all the time about the TM event when I wear my shirt to the gym. It’s what I most look forward to at the finish line. Although the orange headband is unique, it just goes into a drawer never to be used. With growing OCR competition out there, it make my decision to choose different event more likely. Tough Mudder 2.0 seems more like Tough Mudder -1.0.

  15. I’m disappointed to hear that! Even at their cost is, lets say at the worst, $5 a shirt, they can’t recoup that between entry fees; baggage check; parking and their national sponsorships? I agree with everyone above. They are getting greedy. They are becoming the airlines (pay for baggage, carry-on’s and window/isle charges) of the OCR industry. If they wanted, ask me at registration if I wanted to buy a finisher shirt at cost (extra $5) They will probably SELL finisher shirts for $25 adding another $20 in their pockets after everything else. Plus didn’t they already cut corners with the headband thing? REALLY??? Headbands? I want a metal to display. I’ve never liked the headband. #TMBringBackTheFinisherShirts

  16. Well, you’ve all fallen for a cheap, yet effective marketing gimmick. TM isn’t going to stop giving out free race shirts. All they’ve done is create a free OCR marketing device, whereby the story gets all sorts of free press, and when the whining hits a peak, BAM! They “amazingly” capitulate to all of their adoring fans and bring back those wonderful “made in China” shirts, thereby garnering even MORE free press. Saw this one coming a mile away. Old school, and occasionally effective.

  17. I get that shirts are popular and neat and cool, but I don’t get dropping shirts as a deal-breaker. The experience for me is way more important than the gear the race gives me after.

  18. I’m a Spartan guy, considering doing a TM but now I definitely will stay with the Spartan races.

  19. I will not be doing any more Tough Mudder races, the prices are too high and now they take away the T-shirts 🙁 The only thing that you take with you is a headband?!?! Spartan races are providing a better complete experience (and you get different T-shirts). I am half way done getting my 9 Spartan races for this year.

  20. We are paying how much for a race…and get…not even a t-shirt?!? Let me guess, you guys are cutting corners to pay for the lawsuit when the one guy died doing your obsracles. I’m doing this once to say I did it. After the once, NEVER again!

  21. i regesiered in time to get a t shirt but am still waiting to recive my email about size. that i was supposed to get early feb. its mid march and still nothing. i have even emailed them. but nothing. you would think they would be on the ball. not happy this will be my last tm this year. after bigging it up to everyone who asked me while wearing my t-shirt. not good TMHQ…. worth £70 million As of February 2014, Tough Mudder reports that their yearly revenue is approximately $75 million. and no finishers t shirt come on……

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