"The only thing people ever ask is you is what time did you do it in?" he said. "I was looking to build something that was more of an all-around test."
Tough Mudder events test participants with 15 to 20 military obstacles spread over a 7- to 12-mile course. At the first event in May, 5,000 participants ran through fire, climbed up a steep, muddy ski slope, and crawled through small tunnels.
For people like Patricia Alcivar, a professional boxer who ran her first New York City marathon when she was only 16, the physical challenge was not the toughest part of the event. She said she was forced to face her fears as she walked the plank and dove into ice cold water.
"It definitely played a bit of a mind game on me," she said.
Dean said that is one of the goals of these events. "Some of the obstacles we've got are pretty scary," he said. "Overcoming that, and getting through it is something you can feel immensely proud of."
Chris Ho, 22, a student from New York, liked the feeling of accomplishment he got from completing the course with a friend. When his friend was struggling to climb the slippery ski slope, they worked together to get to the top.
"I helped my buddy through it. He made it. We both made it." he said.
Dean wanted to foster this sense of community between the participants.
"It was very important that people were enjoying the teamwork and camaraderie element of it," Dean said. "If people want to do this event, they have to sign up to a set of values."
All of the participants take a pledge on the starting line that preaches values like camaraderie, challenging oneself and overcoming fears. The pledge appeared to work, too.
"People did not hesitate to stop and say, 'Can I help you?'" Alcivar said. "That's definitely a unique part of the event."
Tough Mudder includes a philanthropic element as well. At each event, they raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that works with wounded soldiers.
Dean's events are on a much larger scale than the Death Race. The first event included 5,000 participants, and Dean expects future events to have similar numbers. While the Death Race caters to a niche group, Tough Mudder appeals to a wider segment of the population, and each of the events takes place close to a major city to make it easy to get there.
Whether it is the 24-hour ordeal of the Death Race, or the military obstacles of Tough Mudder, people have new options to test their limits beyond marathons and triathlons.
Ray Morvan said some people will never understand why he does the Death Race."No one I know even in the gym will do it," he said. "They all think I'm nuts."
"Maybe it's just because I'm 46 years old and this is my red Porsche," Morvan said. He plans to compete again on June 26.