Playing Dirty

Obstacle courses are the biggest thing in adventure sports, with millions of amped-up Americans charging into the slop—and a cadre of cutthroat entrepreneurs cashing in. No one is profiting more than Tough Mudder creator Will Dean, a polished Englishman and Harvard Business School grad who will stop at nothing to sell you his brand of suffering.
  1. It's a warm March night in New York City. The Wix Lounge, a cooperative work and event space just off Union Square, is packed with a motley crew of corporate MBAs, entrepreneurs, and dreamers. Tonight, Wix is hosting the first U.S. installment of a popular speaker series put on by a London-based group called Escape the City. Its mission is to guide restless professionals toward alternative career paths, and everyone in the room wants to know what the man with the microphone knows: “How to Build a $70 Million Company in Two Years.”

    Will Dean, the 31-year-old creator of the Tough Mudder obstacle-course series, stands before a projector screen beside his business partner, fellow Englishman Guy Livingstone, also 31. Dean is dressed in jeans and a black fleece jacket emblazoned with his company’s logo, a man running through a wall of flames. Handsome, with a boyish, aw-shucks smile, he doesn’t look like a ruthless capitalist or any of the much nastier names some of his competitors in...

The complete text of “Playing Dirty” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on

Originally published in Outside, November 2012

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