The 2020 World’s Toughest Mudder, set to take place near Dallas, Texas was cancelled today. Although it appeared inevitable with all of the rising Covid-19 cases in that area, many still held out hope for what would have been the 10th anniversary. However, today it officially happened. Tough Mudder cancelled all 2020 physical events including World’s Toughest Mudder.
CEO Tough Mudder said
It has become clear based on our conversations with local officials that the ongoing COVID trends and corresponding restrictions don’t support conducting the remaining 2020 Tough Mudder US events as originally scheduled. We’re setting our sights on a strong 2021, with a full North America and UK calendar rolling out over the next few weeks, and keeping our community active with Tough Mudder Challenges, Virtual Toughest and Virtual World’s Toughest Mudder in the meantime.
You can check out the recently launched Tough Mudder Challenges here.
You can sign up for some 2021 events, including Philly Toughest Mudder on Tough Mudder’s website. There is not a link nor location confirmed yet for 2021 World’s Toughest Mudder.
Find out which obstacle races may actually happen in this article we have compiled.
Matt B. Davis
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Sad to see this happen but inevitable. My strong belief is that the restrictions brought about by Covid-19 are only part of this decision. We should be realistic – nobody has been signing up for these events (TM and/or WTM / Spartan) since February, so even if TX was not a hotspot right now, it would be financial suicide for the organizers to continue with WTM. I think Spartan Jacksonville had 1200 runners? The higher costs of TM events suggests they need at least 4,000 runners to breakeven.
I understand that TM lost nearly $250k putting on WTM 2019 for 800 runners (down from around 1600 in 2015). Given the long term trend of declining participant numbers – even before the material effects of Covid restricting travel and changing consumer behavior – I’d be extremely surprised if we see this event returning in any capacity. When scrutinized commercially, unless it’s a break-even event, the costs simply don’t support the benefits from a community engagement, new customer acquisition, sponsorship or content perspective (which I doubt it has been in any of the last 5 years). It’s just bad business.
The big question for me is how event organizers can sustain themselves – I can only assume that the revenue from any tickets being sold in 2020 has already been spent – so it’s an open question about where funds are going to come from to deliver the 2021 events. Do we think any private investors or PE funds are foolish enough to invest in this sector of the economy given the macro-trends?
1) There’ll have to be a big investment in paid media to advertise the events and attract new customers – which inevitably is going to be pulled from the event budgets which means further cuts in obstacle construction costs etc, lower event satisfaction, fewer repeat runners
2) There’s going to have to be a radical rethink of the business model to get rid of any unnecessary fat and to change the approach to customer acquisition (ever increasing costs of paid media).
3) There will need to be a further reduction in the absolute number of events so they don’t cannibalize from each other and to ensure that they are all profitable in their own right once all head-office and marketing costs are correctly attributed to them.
4) Sponsorship is going to need to be completely re-thought as I doubt any brand marketing team in this economy wants to allocate resources to a declining sport given the business risk.
5) TM needs to deal with the cost of servicing all the runners who signed up in 2019 and were not refunded by Active and who were transferred to the new TM / Spartan. It may be that few of these runners will ever actually take part in future events, but there is a hard cost associated to these runners if they actually do register (T-Shirts / headbands etc) which will further diminish event level profitability.
That said, I very much would to be proven wrong on all of this points.
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