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Conquering the Mini Mudder


My brother and I each play five sports and love to play or follow any sport we’ve learned about. It’s not often that we discover something that is new to us. So, when Sports Illustrated Kids asked if I wanted to participate in the Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder with some friends and write about it, I said “YES!” before I finished reading the question!

You may have heard of the Tough Mudder, the challenge event for adults that started in 2010. It is about a 10-mile obstacle course consisting of 20 to 25 physical, muddy, and mind-bending obstacles. Well, the Mini Mudder, first held in 2015, is a one-mile obstacle course for kids ages seven to 12 with kid-sized versions of those same crazy obstacles.

Nolan Kombol, who designs the obstacles, said “the [founder’s] idea came from thinking how could people do something challenging [that] is also social and builds community.” In fact, the obstacles of both the Tough and Mini Mudders are designed so that you can conquer some obstacles by yourself, but others are only possible with teamwork.

So on a cool and rainy October day in Wisconsin, my brother, Sebastian, our friends Oliver and Tabor, and I headed off to the nearby racecourse called Road America to conquer the Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder.

Wilson: Why did you want to do the Mini Mudder today, and have you ever done anything like this before?

Oliver: I have done some obstacle courses before, but I haven’t done anything like this. I’m excited to do the course in the mud.

Tabor: I have done an obstacle course at camp, but I think the Mudder will be really different. I want to see what the obstacles are and what they are named.

Wilson: Are there any obstacles or parts of the course you are looking forward to?

Sebastian: I’m looking forward to the whole thing! The Tough Mudder is too dangerous for kids, so it’s cool that they made a course just for kids.

Oliver: I don’t know what the obstacles will be, so I’m looking forward to all of it. I like that it’s not a race and you help other people to do the obstacles together.

The Mini Mudder is now held at every U.S. Tough Mudder event. Up to 60 kids can participate in each wave, which adds up to a possible 420 per weekend. There are seven obstacles in the Mini Mudder.

“The Mini Everest, which is like the Warped Wall in American Ninja Warrior, is a favorite,” said Chris Floyd, coordinator of the Mini Mudder. “Kids love the mud so they love Mud Mile. It is two mounds you have to climb and then jump into mud pits. There are other great ones like Secret Agent Squeeze, where you climb through a maze of bungee cords, and Tunnel of Terror, which ends in more mud pits.”


Wilson: What was it like being in the Mini Mudder today?

Oliver: It was really challenging because the mud holds your feet down and piles up around you when you’re running. The mud makes everything harder and more fun!

Tabor: Muddy. Kids ran out of their shoes in the mud pits. It was great!

Wilson: What did you find to be the hardest obstacle, and what was your favorite obstacle?

Oliver: The hardest part was the Monkey Swing because your hands are covered in mud, which made them really slippery and hard to stay on the rings. My favorite part was the Mud Mile because there were big mounds of mud with muddy pools in between that you jump into. You get covered with mud!

Sebastian: The Mini Everest wall was the hardest, especially because it was wet, and you had to use a lot of teamwork there. It was really slippery and even harder to do the obstacles because it was rainy. Mini Everest was also my favorite because I like challenges and conquering them.

Wilson: What were you feeling when you finished the Mini Mudder?

Oliver: It was cool because it wasn’t something where you were competing against people, so it feels good because I did all the challenges and I helped other people to do them too.

Sebastian: Accomplished and exhausted after four laps. I would definitely recommend the Mudder to other kids to get out there and have some fun, get dirty, and work together.

We did it! After four laps on the Mini Mudder course, hosing off, changing into dry clothes, and eating hamburgers, we headed home with bags of muddy clothes and a feeling of accomplishment. We all want to conquer the Mudder again!

Photographs courtesy of Tough Mudder