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Safety Of Tough Mudder Race In Question Following Md. Man’s Death

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Jessica Kartalija 3 Jessica Kartalija
Jessica Kartalija joined the Eyewitness News team during the summer of...
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BALTIMORE  (WJZ) — The safety of an increasingly popular race is in question after a Maryland man is killed during the “Tough Mudder” race.

Jessica Kartalija explains how some say it’s growing too fast.

Tough Mudder started three years ago, and there were three events. This year, they are having 53 in five countries.

In West Virginia, thousands come out for what is not your traditional 10-mile race. They crawl over hills of mud, plunging into a tank of water filled with ice and they’ll even run through wires giving an electric shock.

To some it sounds like torture, to others — fun.

“You come out that other end and you get exhilaration”, said Tough Mudder participant Ben Powell.

But some question whether safety has kept up with the growth, especially after what happened in April.

Video was turned into law enforcement of Avi Sengupta, 28, of Ellicott City moments before he came to an obstacle called “Walk the Plank.”

For reasons still unknown, Sengupta jumped into the mud but never came back up.

A diver took over two minutes to put on equipment and go under. By the time the 28-year old was found,  it was too late.

“It’s really tough to come to grips with the fact that nobody helped him when he needed it,” said Rosemary Gemp.

Dan Gemp and his mom knew Sengupta since the age of five and say he trained hard for the race.

“You know, you carry a guy’s casket out of a room with 700 people, just seeing sad looks all around, that is the saddest thing you imagine,” said Dan Gemp. “Seeing that video is the most infuriating thing you can imagine.”

“We worked through our safety protocols. We’re very confident with what we had in place,and we’re always improving,” said Mudder Chief Operating Officer Don Baxter.

Although injuries of varying degrees are not uncommon at events, a Tough Mudder official says the vast majority of the hundred of thousands who’ve participated have done so safely, and Sengupta has been the only death.

There’s no governing body that oversees these races.

Avi Sengupta’s friends say participants need to know exactly what they are getting into.

A lawyer representing Sengupta’s family says they are contemplating a lawsuit.

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