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October 1, 2014

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The latest obstacle in obstacle racing is bloody diarrhea

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Steve Marcus

A woman crawls through the mud under barbed wire during the Tough Mudder in Beatty, Sunday, April 14, 2013. Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed to test all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.

The 1.5 million people who take part in obstacle races every year are ready for bumps, scrapes and bruises as they crawl through mud bogs, climb walls and wade through standing water. But no one signs up for a Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash or Spartan Race expecting to spend the next week plagued by fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

That’s what happened to 22 people who took part in a long-distance adventure race held on a cattle ranch in Beatty, Nev. in 2012, almost certainly because they swallowed muddy water contaminated by animal feces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. The race left them infected with campylobacter coli, a common bacteria that causes a week of diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever, two to five days after exposure.

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