Time to get muddy in Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Time to get muddy in Snowmass

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun
Tough Mudder participants get down and dirty in last year's event in Snowmass. This year's challenge features eight brand-new obstacles.
Aubree Dallas/Snowmass Sun |

The Obstacles

Tough Mudder Colorado will have 20 obstacles in its course, already challenging given the elevation of Snowmass ski area. Here’s a sampling of some of the new obstacles organizers are excited to unveil at this year’s event:

Everest 2.0

An update on the slicked quarter-pipe that has long been a feature of Tough Mudder events, Everest 2.0 is taller, rounded at the top and has water flowing down its slope, according to the Tough Mudder website. Always a team effort, the new twists should make it even more difficult to complete the challenge solo.

Cry Baby

Aptly named, this obstacle simulates crawling through a tear gas chamber. Not only uncomfortable, it also challenges athletes to overcome their fears of tight spaces, said Courtney Jordan, event director.

“We obviously do not use hazardous chemicals or anything along those lines, but just like we test your strength on Everest and how you can use your teamwork to get up it, we also test your fear of claustrophobia and anything extreme,” Jordan said.

King of the Swingers

Like the rope swings we all remember as kids, King of the Swingers challenges athletes to swing out on a trapeze and try to ring a bell hanging over a deep pool of water. Loyal Mudders might remember Swingers’ predecessor, the Walk the Plank obstacle.

“This is one of my personal favorites,” Jordan said.

The Liberator

To complete this challenge, Mudders will use their upper body and core strength to place pegs in holes in a wall and slowly climb to the top. A rope is their tool for climbing down the other side.

Because of its difficulty, the Liberator is another opportunity for teamwork.

“This one allows people to get creative,” Jordan said. “You can have a teammate below you boost you up if you can’t make it.”

— Jill Beathard

Tough Mudder returns to Snowmass Village this week, but it will hardly be the same event as last year’s.

Organizers of the amateur athletic challenge have created eight new obstacles for use in their events across the country, and all of them will be featured in Tough Mudder Colorado this year.

“For us being our fifth year in the state of Colorado, it’s great to bring some fresh obstacles out and see how people react to them,” said Courtney Jordan, event director.

The course at Snowmass starts at a higher elevation than any of Tough Mudder’s events in the U.S., so course designers tried to strike a balance between what people are capable of doing at altitude and remaining challenging to the strongest athletes, Jordan said. But some Tough Mudder obstacles aren’t meant to be completed individually anyway; the event, which is not a competition, is all about teamwork and camaraderie.

“The whole mentality of people who do Tough Mudder is really about teamwork and camaraderie, and so we’re not afraid to challenge them that way,” Jordan said. “It’s really about finding a balance between that teamwork side and the ability to still find a challenge for people who might be ultra athletes who run mountain courses all the time.”

The designers also tried to use what Jordan called the “best of the mountain,” placing obstacles where athletes can also enjoy the beauty of Snowmass, such as with the climbing obstacle “Everest.”

“Standing on top of it is that much more rewarding because you get a great view from the mountain that you might not have been able to see before,” Jordan said.

Tough Mudder construction teams start building courses about a month ahead of time. The team building the Colorado course is the same that worked on Mudderella last month, although the courses are completely unique.

“What they’re doing to build the obstacles up there is really cool,” said Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism.

As of last week, organizers were expecting more than 8,000 participants over the course of the weekend — slightly down from last year’s 10,000, but given that Snowmass is a “destination event” compared with those held by Tough Mudder in major cities, they’re pleased to see sustained numbers in the second year, Jordan said.

Over 95 percent of participants last year traveled more than two hours to get to the event, Abello said. Snowmass Village hotels were over 90 percent full as of Aug. 15, said Abello, who expects lodges will fill up even more as the event gets closer.

“It’s a great event that drives thousands of people to our valley for the weekend, as is demonstrated by the high occupancy numbers,” Abello said.

The destination quality of Snowmass also makes it unique in that many participants bring their families and make a vacation out of it, Jordan said. For that reason, Tough Mudder Colorado will feature a kids event this year. Called Fruit Shoot, the 1-mile obstacle course is offered to kids ages 7 to 12.

“They get to get muddy and experience the thrill of their own obstacle course,” Jordan said.