Partnerships are key 


Tough Mudder participants, their friends and family are set to make Whistler a sea of orange and pack the resort with a type of team spirit that in many ways defines the resort.

Even the genesis of the event is a story well shared here, as it personifies the doggedness of many business people who came here to live a dream and made it work even though some friends and family told them they were crazy.

In case you don't know the story, Tough Mudder is the brainchild of Will Dean, a former counter-terrorism agent for the British government. While getting his MBA at Harvard, Dean was inspired to start Tough Mudder. It was born out of a frustration he had with marathons and triathlons that were just getting boring.

Harvard was pretty skeptical of his idea — it's been reported that most of his professors thought he would fail though it was a semi-finalist in the school's annual business plan competition.

The first Tough Mudder challenge was held in the United States in 2010 and was promoted exclusively on Facebook — also considered an unwise move by some Harvard professors. The whole event was launched with a $300 website and a Facebook ad.

In 2012, roughly 500,000 people worldwide participated in a total of 35 events, making Tough Mudder the world's fastest-growing adventure series. After only two years of existence Tough Mudder, as a company, is worth $70 million.

Part of the incredible success of the event is the way it sells itself — it is honest in a way many in marketing departments everywhere have forgotten how to be. At the end of the Mudder everyone gets an orange headband — worn everywhere as a badge of honour post competition. It's a small pretty-inexpensive trinket but its cache is huge.

And you get a beer at the end not a piece of fruit. Let's be honest most people finishing a gruelling race that marks a milestone for them would rather celebrate than eat an orange. Then there is the death waiver you have to sign at the beginning. Crazy or a stroke of marketing genius?

Sadly, this past April a participant did die during a Tough Mudder event in West Virginia, bringing home the truth that while this type of event is growing exponentially it does contain dangerous challenges.

This weekend the resort will be at capacity as Whistler hosts the 19,000 registered participants and the at least 6,000 others expected to cheer them on and celebrate afterwards.

In many ways, the participants who take part in something like Tough Mudder are natural Whistler visitors and whatever the resort can do to encourage them to come back and try the valley's natural challenges is good marketing.

Speaking of Whistler Olympic Park


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