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Tough Mudder draws 25,000

Spectators and participants pack into Whistler Olympic Park for two-day event
MUD BUDDIES Whistler Olympic Park hosted more than 20,000 people for the second annual Tough Mudder event, which features this obstacle called Everest. Photo by John French

Over the course of two days the Tough Mudder event at Whistler Olympic Park (WOP) has attracted about 25,000 people to the home of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games Nordic venue.

Nick Maslin from Harrison Hot Springs was but one of the many people who made the trip up into the Callaghan Valley to run 18km and test himself physically and mentally by taking on 20 obstacles along the course. He swam through ice water, crawled through mud, endured electric shocks, walked through fire and climbed walls with his brother and father on Sunday, an event day that was much smaller than the day before when well over 10 thousand people covered the Tough Mudder course.

Right behind Maslin was a group of shirtless super heroes dressed only in under shorts. The group from New Westminster claimed to be Peter Park, Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Bruce Banner, Captain America and the Green Lantern.

The Justice League members said their favourite obstacle was the Arctic Enema, a construction bin filled with ice cold water and a wooden divider in the middle that forces participants to put their head under the water to get to the exit point.

“We carried a girl through the Wounded Warrior ¬– all of us, we all carried her,” said Bruce Wayne, who claimed to be from Gotham. “She had to do the crab walk so we helped her."

Dwight Davison from Sechelt was with friends, family members and co-workers in the B.C. Ambulance Service. His group said they really enjoyed doing the Mud Mile, a long stretch of mud trenches.

“The Arctic Enema one was pretty insane,” said Davison. “First thing in the morning it's an eye opener.”

The event is an economic eye opener for Whistler. When it made its debut at WOP last June it proved to be an event worth keeping. A similar event called Warrior Dash held in August of 2011 featured ten obstacles over 5km and attracted almost 4,500 participants. The event didn’t return. Tough Mudder organizers felt the Whistler area was worth another shot at a mass-participation event and scheduled the first Tough Mudder event for western Canada in June of 2012.

Marketing mainly through Facebook, the event attracted more than 15,000 people in its first year and packed the resort’s accommodations at a time when crowds aren’t expected in the village.

While participants were slogging through mud and testing their strength and courage, spectators were offered a chance to shoot a .22 calibre rifle just like the rifles used by Olympic athletes. In the area around the biathlon range the echo of rifle shots and target hits could be heard over the din of cheering Tough Mudder spectators as competitors dropped into the Arctic Enema bins and pulled themselves through the obstacle known as Boa Constrictor.

A multi-year agreement is in place between Tough Mudder and Whistler Olympic Park. Registration for a 2014 event hasn’t opened yet but organizers are taking names and email addresses for a pre-registration list.