As marathon participation declines, more people are signing up for extreme events such as Spartan and Tough Mudder.
Completing a marathon has long been the ultimate feather in the cap of an amateur endurance athlete. But the idea of trotting along a boring old paved road for 26.2 miles doesn’t thrill everyone. For the endurance athlete who gets bored easily, a new genre of race has emerged—peppered with obstacles requiring feats of strength and dexterity (Crawling under barbed wire! Climbing a rope! Throwing a spear! Burpees!), and designed to be an over-the-top spectacle where participants emerge covered in mud (and maybe blood), as if they’ve survived a battle.