“It’s just that popular,” said Mount Snow Communications Manager Dave Meeker. “It’s the big reason we added the second one this year.”
Tough Mudder officials say the decision to return to Mount Snow was an easy one.
“Mount Snow been incredible to work with,” said Tough Mudder Public Relations Manager Jane Dileo. “It’s a very challenging course, it’s such a beautiful resort, and it’s a great place to host it.”
Dileo said the reason Tough Mudder decided to add the July New England event was the speed with which the May event sold out. There are 10,000 participants, the maximum amount the course can accommodate, set for Saturday’s contest. Another 7,700 are slated to take to the course on Sunday.
As of Tuesday, the July event already had 85% of the available start slots filled.
This weekend’s event pits individuals and teams against a 10-mile course with a series of challenges and obstacles ranging from plunges into ice cold water to running through burning hay bales. The course forces participants to run up, down, and across the ski trails of Mount Snow, winding its way from the Main Base area to the North Face, back to the front of the mountain, up to the summit, across to the bottom of the Sunbrook area, up and back to the Main Base area, across to Carinthia, and finally back from the Carinthia base area to the Main Base finish line.
Participants will have to navigate 27 obstacles, including two mystery challenges that won’t be unveiled until the participants hit the course. Along the way are obstacles with such inviting names as “Walk the Plank,” “Ball Shrinker,” “Death March,” “Hold Your Wood,” and “Arctic Enema.” They involve ice-cold water, carrying logs, climbing a ski trail, or some variation of the same. Participants sign a hold-harmless waiver saying in effect they take full responsibility for their own personal fitness and ability to complete the course.
While Tough Mudder is based in Brooklyn, NY, there is staff littered around the world planning and constructing event sites. At Mount Snow, there is a “Tough Crew” of 10, including an event planner, who oversees the setup of the event, and a construction manager responsible for getting the obstacles built.
According to Meeker, more than 1,200 bales of hay have been set up on the mountain, and an “astronomical amount of lumber” has been delivered. The lumber is being used to construct many of the obstacles. Mount Snow has also been stockpiling snow at the base of Carinthia to use in the “Glacier” obstacle. Participants will climb up a mound of snow left over from the recent winter season.
Meeker also added that Mount Snow’s winter ambassadors will be on hand this weekend, to provide information for the thousands of visitors to the area, many visiting Mount Snow and the Deerfield Valley for the first time. “The people familiar with the mountain will be here.”
The amount of money raised by Mount Snow participants for the Wounded Warrior Project has yet to be finalized. In 2011, Tough Mudder New England raised more than $170,000 for the project. With two events this year, there should be no doubt that amount will be exceeded.
Tough Mudder is in its third year of existence, and has become one of the largest extreme challenge event series in the world. The company partners with the Wounded Warrior Project as its official charity, and participants are encouraged to raise funds to contribute to the project. To date more than $2.5 million has been contributed from Tough Mudder participants. The Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is to assist severely wounded veterans’ transition from military to civilian life.
Tough Mudder was founded by Englishmen Will Dean and Guy Livingstone. Dean, who had worked in the British diplomatic service, came up with the idea while at Harvard Business School. Their vision was to challenge the prevailing notion of endurance “racing.” Dean was tired of the incessant emphasis on individual performance, and he yearned for a hard-core event, where completion itself was a badge of honor. The idea was good enough to earn a finalist’s placing in the Harvard Business School’s annual business plan competition, but not good enough to win outright. The professors on the panel told Dean that his presentation was well done, but that there weren’t even 500 people in America who would be crazy enough to sign up, let alone pay for such an extreme event.
Dean went ahead anyway, bringing aboard lifelong friend Livingstone as chief operating officer. The pair have proven more astute than the business school’s critics, having passed the half-million mark in participants, Tough Mudder is holding events around the world this year, including England, Canada, and Australia.
For more information about Tough Mudder visit www.toughmudder.com. For Wounded Warrior Project information or to donate visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
As thousands push themselves to the limits of their endurance on Mount Snow this weekend, thousands more will be thankful to have additional assistance in their efforts to recover from their war wounds.