The Mob Rules

img1312.jpgTriathlons are so 2010. If you’re not wearing a Pippi Longstocking costume caked in mud and hoisting a pint of beer as you pose for a group photo at the end of your race, you’re doing it all wrong. The name of the fitness game today is “mob.”

That’s the term Active Network uses to describe the recent wave of group races that stress fun and friendship as much as fitness. On’s mob portal, events are classified as “adventure races,” “costume/theme,” “mud runs,” “obstacle courses” and “partiers.” (The icon for that last one depicts two beer mugs clinking together in a toast.) These events drew more than one million participants in 2012, Active reported.

The trend became evident in Southern Nevada last year with the arrival of the Color Run, the Glow Run and the Zombie Run, among others. But it got (ass-)kicked into high gear with the arrival of Tough Mudder, the mother of all mobs, in October. The 10- to 12-mile obstacle course inspired by British Special Forces training includes such challenges as crawling under barbed wire, running while holding a log, wading through ice and, of course, slithering through mud.

But grueling physical feats are only part of the picture. Mob events incorporate the social media-inspired practice of tackling challenges with support (or, for the more narcissistic, an audience), as Tough Mudder demonstrates—with its Mudder Nation community site and mantra, “You cannot complete a Tough Mudder course alone.” For now, at least, it’s a successful strategy. Active Network reports that it saw a 92 percent increase in mob event listings from the first five months of 2011 to the same period in 2012. Las Vegas has its share of these: Before spring officially arrives, locals can tackle Calico Racing’s Mardi Gras Masquerade 10k and 5k (a “party on foot”); February 9 in Henderson, the Las Vegas Urban 5k St. Patrick’s Day Run and Festival, March 16 Downtown; or the Devil Dash obstacle course March 22-23 at Bootleg Canyon. And for those who want to really earn that beer on the other side of the finish line, Tough Mudder’s coming up again April 13-14. Cheers!

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