By most accounts, Spartan Race (SR) and Tough Mudder (TM) are the top dogs in this new world of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). And of course there are people on both sides that are absolutely certain that their events are the true test...the one that everyone should be aspiring to run. Well, in all fairness I haven't run a TM yet. Not out of any particular leaning, but more out of the practical aspect that I suck at running! Which also explains the fact that I don't run any more than I have to. Which goes on to explain that since TM's are longer races than a typical Spartan Sprint... the Sprint is what I started with. Just makes sense. The ironic thing is that I've only run the sprint at Tuxedo for the last three years, and that's been described by some of the elite OCR racers as the equivalent of a TM or even a flat Spartan Super. Anyway, I do plan to run one in the future...god willing and the river don't rise!
Why would a race not be a challenge as well though? Doesn't really make sense when you think about it. I can tell you from my own experience, these races are real challenges. They push you to your physical limit and challenge you mentally to hang in there and finish it. You know your time...your know everyone else's time...and you know exactly how well you performed. If you don't know how well you did, then how do you judge when you're getting better? I can guarantee that the competitive TM racers are timing themselves every race and if they don't compare their times to each other, they're definitely comparing their own from race to race.
That's another big difference in the events too. At least to my understanding. Spartan Race has a penalty for missing an obstacle...the dreaded burpee! There's no skipping an obstacle either. As far as I know, other than maybe falling into water and having to swim to the other side, TM doesn't have any penalty. If you want to skip an obstacle you can! I guess that makes sense because it's not really a race. But sometimes we need to fear the punishment more than the obstacle. I don't think there's a racer that will intentionally do 30 burpees on a Spartan course without first trying the obstacle...more than once if they can get away with it.