Mud Runs Give People The Runs

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You’re probably familiar with those mud runs that your obnoxiously fit friends won’t stop posting pictures of on Facebook. You know, the competitions where people run through mud, submerge themselves in ice baths that make it difficult to breathe, and run through live electrical wires, all after signing away any their rights via a release form.

Apparently, if you’ve competed in or are considering competing in a mud run, the live electrical wires might be the least of your worries. A more realistic concern? Feverishly crapping your brains out for days because of diarrhea.


Last Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there was “a statistically significant association between inadvertent swallowing of muddy surface water during the race and Campylobactor infection.” According to the CDC:

“Inadvertent ingestion of muddy surface water contaminated with cattle or swine feces during a long-distance obstacle adventure course competition likely resulted in an outbreak of campylobacteriosis in 22 participants. Four of the 22 had laboratory-confirmed infections with Campylobacter coli.”


Just to clarify, Campylobacter is a microbe that is one of the leading causes of general diarrhea. People commonly contract the microbe by eating contaminated poultry, eating raw food or drinking raw milk. And now we know that you can also get infected by the microbe by accidentally swallowing mud during a mud run.

The infections, the report said, probably occur because mud runs often occur on farmlands, where animal feces can sink into the ground, and reemerge as mud, which people then swallow while they’re submerged.


The CDC recommended the following:

“Event organizers should consider including the risk for waterborne outbreaks in their participant waivers and advise participants to avoid drinking or swallowing unsafe water. Participants also need to be encouraged to seek appropriate medical care for postcompetition diarrhea, especially bloody diarrhea, and to inform medical personnel of their exposure.”