What the Tough Mudder Can Teach Us About Marketing

January 24th, 2011

Back in November I participated in the tri-state Tough Mudder in New Jersey, a 12.9 mile endurance race that includes 19 obstacles integrating water, fire and even electrically charged wires. The race was situated across a mixed terrain at Raceway Park.  I ran it with a group of friends and the experience was exhilarating, muddy, exhausting and a lot of fun.

If you are interested in running one of these races, I offer a few tips. Thinking them through, these can also be applied to your next marketing, public relations and social media campaign.

Game Plan

The average time to finish a Tough Mudder event is two hours and thirty minutes. Having never experienced a race of this kind, and running with a “no person left behind” mantra, we set our sights on a three-hour (or less) finish time.

Tip: Before embarking on any type of marketing campaign, be sure to set attainable goals that are clearly communicated among the team.


My team and I developed a training program which included running, sprints, strength and conditioning, and other functional core maneuvers. We started training eight weeks prior to the event.

Tip: Identify what tools and processes are required to support your launch campaign, and be sure to build in the appropriate lead time in order to put your team in the best position to succeed.


During training (and on race day), it is important to pace yourself. Nervous energy will always entice you to start sprinting or try to keep pace with a faster pack of runners. Doing so will quickly take you out of your comfort zone and potentially impact your overall performance.

Tip: We often compare ourselves to the competition and are envious of their success. Take a healthy look and be sure to adjust your pace (budget, personnel, resources, etc.) in order to achieve your goals.


The Tough Mudder is designed to test you physically, mentally and emotionally. It includes a broad range of obstacles with varying levels of difficulty. Although you can train for the race, there are certain obstacles that you could never prepare for. For me it was the sub-45 degree water that I had to swim across after jumping off of a 15-foot ledge. It was brutally cold and at that point I had to push through and keep moving.

Tip: Every campaign will have its share of obstacles and challenges. The key is how you react to them and keep moving forward. When planning, be sure to integrate the PACE (primary, alternative, contingency and emergency) methodology.


The Tough Mudder is a race, yet individuals and groups participate and there is a camaraderie that takes over throughout the race.  During the race you realize your strengths and weaknesses and everyone helps each other get through the obstacles.

Tip: Each person on your team has a skill set that needs to be optimized. Be sure to identify this early on and make adjustments along the way.


Running the Tough Mudder is a ton of fun. Despite the obstacles, and seemingly endless torture, the feeling of achievement is like no other when you reach the finish line.

Tip: As you develop your marketing campaign, it is important to enjoy the process and have fun along the way.

The thermometer on race day did not exceed 50 degrees. My team had a 10:30 AM start time and we finished at 1:15 PM, fifteen minutes better than our three-hour (or under) goal, and within range of the course average.

Within minutes of finishing the race – fatigued, cold and muddy – a friend turned to me and asked if I would do it again.  Without hesitation, I emphatically replied “Where do I sign up?”

Domenick Cilea

Domenick founded Springboard in 1995. When he is not working on marketing, PR, branding or content strategy, Domenick can be found in a gym, on the road or pool training to survive his next triathlon.

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