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Army Sponsors Tough Mudder Obstacles in an Attempt to Recruit "Army Strong" Soldiers

Everyone loves a good 5K race. However, Americans are increasingly up for the added challenges of running through fire, steep inclines, ice water, mud and up to a dozen other military-style obstacles commonly found at Tough Mudder events around the country. And what better place to find those who are "Army Strong"?

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Everyone loves a good 5K race. However, Americans are increasingly up for the added challenges of running through fire, steep inclines, ice water, mud and up to a dozen other military-style obstacles commonly found at Tough Mudder events around the country. And what better place to find those who are "Army Strong"?

The Army recently started a campaign to sponsor obstacles at eight Tough Mudder events in an attempt to highlight the unique service opportunities available in the Army Reserve. The sponsorships are targeted at Tough Mudder participants seeking to test their mental, emotional, and physical strength.

"There is an obvious similarity between Tough Mudder participants and Army Strong soldiers," says Mark Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Marketing and director of the Army Marketing and Research Group. "Soldiers understand, and Tough Mudder participants certainly experience the importance of perseverance of overcoming physical and mental obstacles by not quitting."

Tough Mudder has long been associated with military members and veterans through its support of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Billed as "probably the toughest event on the planet," Tough Mudders have raised more than $5 million in the two-plus years the program has been raising funds at its races around the country. The money goes to the Wounded Warrior Project to help provide veterans with services such as employment and benefit counseling, support for post-traumatic stress disorder, physical health and wellness and more.

"What started out as a grass-roots event has turned into one of our most important strategic partnerships," says Steven Nardizzi, executive director of the Wounded Warrior Project. "Our mission of honoring and empowering wounded warriors is profoundly assisted when groups like Tough Mudder adopt our cause."

Part of the support for the Wounded Warrior Project is Tough Mudder sponsoring a team of wounded warriors in each of its races. But, plenty of active military and reservists are participants as well.

"Fitness is such a key element for soldiers and I would assume there are plenty of soldiers training in fitness centers to get ready for Tough Mudder events and there is opportunity for more," says Davis, who adds that in general less than one in four people qualify for the Army due to a number of factors including fitness.

Army soldiers were on site to engage participants and assist at Army obstacles at the first Army sponsored challenge in Wisconsin and will also be on hand at seven other events as part of the trial run of the sponsorship.

"Working with the U.S. Army was a natural synergy for us," says Simon Massie Taylor, senior vice president of commercial at Tough Mudder. "Each event poses unique challenges, and participants, much like Soldiers have to be mentally and physically tough in order to succeed. More so, they have to showcase leadership and teamwork skills, something every Army soldier understands."

The sponsorship program may expand following review of the events scheduled for this year, including Special Ops participation as well, says Davis.

Appealing to Tough Mudders can help fitness centers reach more military members and their families by offering group and individual classes geared toward getting or staying fit for the demands of the Tough Mudder events.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Add Tough Mudder training to group exercise schedule

2. Tie Tough Mudder training to CrossFit and TRX training

3. Have personal trainers offer one-on-one Tough Mudder training

4. Use the fitness center as a hub for a new Tough Mudder group

5. Offer nutrition workshops for training for a Tough Mudder

Interested in more military-specific content? Sign up for AB Military News, our weekly newsletter with content specifically for military sports, recreation and fitness professionals.

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