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In the Netherlands, obstacle, mud and survival runs are increasingly popular. Although outbreaks of gastroenteritis have been reported following these events, associated health risks have not been systematically assessed.


To investigate the incidence of acute gastrointestinal infections (AGI), skin infections (SI) and respiratory infections (RI) among obstacle run participants, as well as risk factors.


Between April and October 2017, we conducted a retrospective cohort study among 2,900 participants of 17 obstacle runs in the Netherlands. Demographic, symptomatic and behavioural data were collected from participants via an online questionnaire 1 week after participation in an obstacle run. Stool specimens were obtained from respondents for microbiological tests. Adjusted relative risks (aRR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) using multilevel binomial regression analysis were calculated.


Of 2,646 respondents (median age: 33 years; 53% male), 76 had AGI after the obstacle run; ingesting mud was associated with AGI (aRR: 1.7; 95% CI: 1.2–4.9) and 38 respondents had AGI during or in the week before the obstacle run. Overall, 103 respondents reported SI and 163 RI. Rinsing off in a hot tub was associated with SI (aRR: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.7–2.8). Of 111 stool specimens, 13 tested positive for six different pathogens. No clusters were found.


The reported incidence of AGI, SI and RI was low. Risk of these infections could be decreased by informing participants on preventive measures, e.g. showering vs rinsing in the hot tub, avoiding ingesting mud and not participating with symptoms of AGI.


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