Slight deviation of my usual topic but I guess it's all relevant is it not? My first appointment in the world of Whistler events was Tough Mudder on 22nd June 2013. Taking place in the Callaghan Valley at the purpose built Winter Olympic Park site. It began with a 4.30am start to catch the yellow school buses up to the event base. My colleague Ray and I are used to this after working Big White events, but it's been a while..
I realised an ambition purely getting to travel in one of these beasts - It was like being in a Simpson's episode
For those of you not familiar with Tough Mudder—it's a series of worldwide events started in 2010 that has seen enormous and premature growth over the last three years. 18kms of gruelling military style obstacles that include bolting through hay bales on fire, jumping into a pit of ice water and gingerly negotiating a field of electrified wires to cross the finish line. The series has seen over 350,000 people take part in raising over $5 million dollars for the Wounded Warriors - Whistler's event attracted over 16,000 participants and 6 000 spectators up to the valley to put themselves through the toughest challenge run on the planet.
This event was immaculately set up, the American team from Tough Mudder HQ know how to do it for sure. Within 10 minutes of us arriving for work at 5.30am, the site was full of 'Mudders' raring to go and the event was up and running with precision. The team spirit of the day was infectious, we saw hoards of people in matching outfits, slogan t-shirts for their team (some too offensive to publish in a public domain) and un-abaiting excitement for what was bound to be one of the most enduring challenges most have ever been through.
On the first day we saw almost 15,000 people come through in waves, with each team dedicated their own starting time to allow the maximum number of participants. The event is set up to be a full day affair, with all competitors (over 19) greeted with a free beer at the finish line and a huge beer tent area akin to a music festival, filled to the brim with giddy runners. The atmosphere on site was electric, literally, with two obstacles including pretty painful and sustained electric shocks as the competitors ran through a series of electrified wire.
electric shock on the left, beer on the right
In 2011 when I worked for SNO!zone Scotland we delivered 15 tonnes of snow to the banks of the clyde in Glasgow to create an unique challenge for Rat Race Glasgow - another obstacle based initiative combined with a 10km run. Runners of this course had to crawl 20m through our snow as part of the course and it was, I imagine, fairly unpleasant and only one small part of it. The Tough Mudder event is on a scale so much larger it's practically behemoth...
All in all, the event was an incredible one as a spectator so to take part would've been phenomenal! Back in Whistler village later that evening, I saw hundreds of exhausted people limping through the Village Stroll but every single one of them had a look of elation on their face like no other - wearing their 'Tough Mudder Finisher' t shirt or headband with pride. Statistically, only 78% of competitors complete the challenge on average at each event, but if ever old adage 'It's the taking part that counts' applies, it's with Tough Mudder for sure.
For more info on locations and future events - visit www.toughmudder.com