Tough Mudders soak it up in Snowmass Village
The Aspen Times
They came to swim through cold water, crawl under ropes, get shocked by live wires and ultimately drink a beer with their friends.
An estimated 7,500 people participated in Tough Mudder, an obstacle-course challenge that holds events worldwide, on Saturday in Snowmass Village. Continuing today, Tough Mudder not only tests athletes’ strength and agility but also their mental toughness and ability to work together.
There were cries of “You got this!” and “We did it!” at each of the 25 obstacles and hazards on the 10-plus mile course. Some of the obstacles, such as Everest, a sloped wall participants have to run up, almost can’t be done without a hand from a friend, said Ben Hutto, of Louisiana, who was challenging himself to his third Tough Mudder.
“It really helps to have people on the other side to grab you when you get to the top,” he said.
That works because Tough Mudder isn’t a competition but a personal challenge for each participant to finish the course. Athletes started from Base Village in waves every 20 minutes from 8 a.m. to about 1 p.m. on Saturday. Many do the challenge with a group of friends that sticks together the whole way through the race.
Lily Davis and Rachel Valdez, students at Colorado State University, did that with their friends. It was their first experience doing Tough Mudder.
“It was crazy and awesome,” Davis said.
Another group of friends came all the way from Malta, an island country in the Mediterranean Sea, for the event. They were making some other stops on their trip, including in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but they planned it around Tough Mudder Colorado.
Originally from Sweden, the three men donned one-piece suits with their home country’s flag on them.
“It’s awesome,” said Ola Bondesson about Snowmass. “(The view) really helped along the way. When you get tired, you just look up and you feel energized.”
The Swedish friends were in costume, and they weren’t the only ones. Hutto and his brother wore superhero-themed outfits, and there were women in tutus and multiple groups in matching T-shirts. By the time they crossed the finish line at Base Village, though, they all were covered in mud.
Return to Snowmass confirmed
Tough Mudder organizers confirmed on Saturday that they will return to Snowmass Village for the event in 2015. It is planned for the weekend after Labor Day again, which will be Sept. 12 and 13 next year.
Pulling off an event of this size has taken the combined efforts of Aspen Skiing Co., town staff, Tough Mudder and all the residents of Snowmass Village, said Dave Elkan, Snowmass Tourism sales and events manager.
Tough Mudder has its own construction and course-design team that built all the obstacles in Snowmass and will be responsible for restoring the landscape after today’s race, said Deric Gunshor, Skico event marketing manager.
Most of the obstacles are located within the ski area, although part of the course also travels through Snowmass neighborhoods and on town trails.
“This is a huge deal for the town of Snowmass Village,” Gunshor said. “We’re supportive of doing whatever we can to help the community build the season.”
The weekend after Labor Day would normally be quiet in the village, he said. Not so this weekend: Snowmass Village hotels were sold out, and Base Village, where Tough Mudder vendor, registration and medical tents were centralized, was swarming with people.
Tough Mudder Colorado continues today in Snowmass Village.
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Peter Arnold’s playing career ended after high school, but his time on the ice continues a few decades later. A longtime USA Hockey official and new Aspen resident, Arnold is searching for the next generation of hockey referees among the youth ranks here in the Roaring Fork Valley.