When this year's crop of Tough Mudders hit the course at Whistler Olympic Park on June 18 and 19, they'll have at least two new obstacles to tackle — King of the Swingers and Block Ness Monster.
Director of event production Barry Shaw compared King of the Swingers to a different Tough Mudder obstacle — Walk the Plank.
"King of the Swingers is basically that, but on steroids," Shaw said.
Mudders jump from the same platform used for Walk the Plank, but reach out for a bar or swing above a pit of water, Shaw explained.
"If they can grab onto that and hold onto it, it rotates them out over the pit," he said. "And the idea is to sort of time their letting go of the bar, and then reach out and ring a bell that's just hanging out over the pit."
Block Ness Monster, meanwhile, has teams scrambling over large, floating cubic rectangles.
"The idea is you kind of have to scramble over them, but if you jump up to sort of pull on it to get over it, it rotates against you," Shaw said.
"It really requires a lot of teamwork and coordination to get over that one."
Now in its fifth year in Whistler, Shaw said Tough Mudder has no plans to leave the resort any time soon — and new obstacles help keep the offering fresh.
"I think the challenge is always kind of bringing a unique product," Shaw said.
"Now that we've been there five years (it's about) making sure that we're innovating each year, and offering new things that continue to attract people."
But the main draw of the event — the thrill of working together as a team to accomplish something truly tough — is evident year in and year out.
"That's what kind of sets Tough Mudder apart from some of our competitors, and I think there's just something universally appealing in terms of just getting out there with a group of friends, colleagues, whoever it is, and accomplishing something that you might not have been able to do were it not for the team around you," Shaw said.
"So that's kind of what we focus on."
Since mucking its way into Whistler's event schedule in 2012, Tough Mudder has brought thousands to the resort in what was traditionally a slower time of year.
This year, Tough Mudder will receive $205,000 — spread across three events — from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) through its Resort Municipality Initiative fund.
"It's a tremendous boon to us. We were very pleased and grateful to be receiving that," Nick Cogger, director of business development for Tough Mudder Canada, told Pique last February.
"The availability of the funds to support the event is a huge influence on our decision to return here year on year."
Funding from the RMOW is used to offset operational costs associated with the events, Cogger said at the time.
Losing the money wouldn't necessarily mean no more Tough Mudder in Whistler, but it "would definitely present some challenges for us," Cogger said.
"It just means that we would have to revisit other funding opportunities, and look at how we move forward, but I don't think it's an open-and-shut case that we wouldn't come back without the investment."
A little less than a week out from the 2016 installment of Tough Mudder, registration was hovering around 9,000, Shaw said, with registration still open at www.toughmudder.com.
Participants can also register onsite.
The RMOW is offering a free shuttle for participants and spectators on June 18 (though not on June 19). The first shuttle leaves from Whistler Olympic Plaza at 6 a.m., with the last shuttle returning to the village at 7 p.m.
Onsite parking is limited and comes with a $30 fee.
An afterparty is scheduled for Saturday, June 18 at Garfinkel's.
This year marks the addition of a Tough Mudder Half, set to take place the following Saturday on June 25.
Mudderella — the female-focused version of the event — is scheduled for September 24.
"We're obviously excited," Shaw said.
"Five years in the market means that there's a lot of folks out there that know us, and we're looking forward to putting on a good show for them."
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