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Maryland man's death in Tough Mudder one of several linked to similar events

April 23, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The death of a Maryland man who participated in Tough Mudder in Berkeley County joins a growing number of fatalities linked to similar obstacle course challenge events held across the nation.

Avishek Sengupta, 28, was pronounced dead at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., on Sunday after participating in Tough Mudder’s Mid-Atlantic Spring event on Saturday at Peacemaker National Training Center.

Police have said Sengupta, of Ellicott City, Md., was submerged in a pool at one of the event’s obstacles for too long. Drowning was later deemed to be the cause of the man’s accidental death by the Virginia medical examiner’s office in Manassas, Va.

About 750,000 people have participated in Tough Mudder courses since the first event was held in 2010, and Sengupta was the first person to die, a Tough Mudder LLC spokesperson said Monday.

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A sample of the Tough Mudder liability waiver posted on the company’s website warns participants of possible serious injury.

“Catastrophic injuries are rare; however, we feel that our participants should be aware of the possibility,” the waiver states. “These injuries can include permanent disabilities, spinal injuries and paralysis, stroke, heart attack, and even death.”

Initialing and signing the waiver indicates they are waiving action to sue Tough Mudder LLC for “any and all claims resulting from the inherent risks of the TM event or the ordinary negligence of Tough Mudder LLC ... that I may have arising out of my participation in the TM event.”

The endurance series, which has more than 50 events planned this year across the nation and in Japan, Australia, South Africa and Europe, is scheduled to return to Berkeley County in October, according to the company’s website.

Sengupta’s death comes little more than a month after a 33-year-old man collapsed and died at an Extreme Rampage run and obstacle course event on March 2 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky, according published reports.

Extreme Rampage said its obstacle course race series challenges participants to complete a 3- to 4-mile course with more than 20 obstacles, according to the company’s website.

In April 2012, a 30-year-old man died in Fort Worth, Texas, while participating in the Original Mud Run there. His body was found in a river that was part of the course of the event.

A 28-year-old man and a 31-year-old man died after participating in a Warrior Dash event in Kansas City, Mo., held July 29 and 30, according to published reports. Warrior Dash, which claims to be the world’s largest obstacle race series, is a 5K race.

One of the men in the Kansas City race died about two weeks after collapsing during the event and the other died after also collapsing apparently from extreme heat, according to published reports. The same weekend of the Kansas City race, a 21-year-old man was paralyzed from the chest down at another Warrior Dash event in Michigan, according to published reports.

Warrior Dash officials told The Associated Press in August 2011 that the fatalities were the first since the events began in 2009 and that safety is their top priority.

Tough Mudder released a similar statement Monday and noted that obstacles are tested and thoroughly inspected prior to each event in conjunction with local authorities and independent consultants.

Tough Mudder, whose courses are between 10 and 12 miles, also said it had more than 75 advanced life support, emergency medical technician, paramedics, water rescue technicians and emergency personnel on site for the event.

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