Tough Mudder returns to Snowmass this weekend
What possesses people to willingly crawl through mud and dirt beneath barbed wire, slide into a dumpster filled with several tons of ice and frigid water, and get shocked by 10,000 volts of electricity while running through live wires?
It’s the sense of camaraderie, challenge and fun, said Tough Mudder competitor and Aspen resident Jeremy Barbin.
“It’s a cool event because it’s not necessarily about winning,” said Barbin, an accomplished athlete who has competed in endurance events and ultra-marathons like the Leadville 100 and the winter Grand Traverse.
“Don’t get me wrong; I’m super-competitive,” Barbin said. “But that wasn’t my reason for doing Tough Mudder. … The end goal was to have fun, and I think that’s what the event is centered around.”
The Tough Mudder challenge returns to Snowmass this weekend for its third consecutive year.
In May, the event celebrated its sixth year and overwhelming growth since Tough Mudder co-founders Will Dean and Guy Livingstone teamed up to launch the unique challenge in 2010.
Dean, a former counterterrorism officer at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, developed the idea for Tough Mudder while studying at Harvard Business School.
He submitted the concept at Harvard University’s Business Plan Competition, whereby the judges were not impressed, said Tough Mudder marketing associate Jodi Kovacs.
The judges told Dean that no one would ever pay money to run through mud or be electrically shocked — especially if the event was untimed and there were no prizes or winners, Kovacs said.
With the help of his partner Livingstone, who worked as an attorney at the international law firm Allen & Overy, Dean disregarded the judges’ disproval and ran with the idea.
In May 2010, Dean and Livingstone hosted the first Tough Mudder challenge at a ski resort in Pennsylvania.
The two expected about 500 people to attend the first event.
As it would turn out, more than 5,000 showed up to the first Tough Mudder challenge, Kovacs said.
Stunned at the event’s turnout and overall success, Dean and Livingstone hosted two more Tough Mudder events later that same year.
Fast-forward six years, and Tough Mudder holds more than 120 events throughout 10 countries.
Altogether, more than 2.4 million people around the world have participated in the Tough Mudder challenge, and in 2015 alone, the event generated more than $100 million in global revenue.
The Tough Mudder challenge in Snowmass is particularly difficult, boasting the largest elevation change of all its events in North America, Kovacs said.
Snowmass is “one of the most intense and exhilarating courses you’ll run in,” she said. “Tough Mudder Colorado is one unforgettable venue.”
Last year, more than 8,000 people traveled to Snowmass to participate in Tough Mudder, Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello said.
What’s more is that the 8,000 competitors brought another 6,000-plus people to town to spectate and support them throughout the challenge.
“One of the great things about Tough Mudder is that most participants bring friends or family, as well.” Abello said. “There are several areas where spectating is particularly fun, as several obstacles are grouped together.
“The scene is one of camaraderie and cheering for folks as they attempt the obstacles.”
The Tough Mudder challenge in Snowmass will kick off Sept. 10 and last through Sept. 11.
For more information, visit http://www.gosnowmass.com/event/tough-mudder.
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