Enduro tourism comes to Beaver Creek
May 10, 2012
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Beaver Creek is expecting even more people at this year’s Tough Mudder than last year.
And last year, the event saw thousands of participants.
Dubbing itself the premier obstacle course series in the world, Tough Mudder events are “hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie,” according to their promotional material. Events have roughly 20 different obstacles, including ropes, ice cold water and even electroshock. They’re held in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and all over Europe.
The series is still in it’s infant stages – the first-ever Tough Mudder event was held in Pennsylvania in 2010 – but its already become wildly successful, attracting more than half a million participants from around the globe. Tough Mudder calls itself the “leading company in the booming obstacle course industry.”
The events are non-competitive – “not a race, but a challenge,” according to promoters.
Beaver Creek spokesperson Jen Brown says the Tough Mudder is far different from anything else held in the valley, which is part of the reason its so successful.
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“Tough Mudder’s popularity has grown exponentially,” she says. “It appeals to participants for its camaraderie and teamwork values versus a competitive focus.”
Part of the attraction to the Beaver Creek Tough Mudder in particular is the high elevation the course is held at, making it among the most challenging on the circuit.
And this year, the course will go even higher.
Beaver Creek and the U.S. Forest Service have redesigned the course, to “not only take advantage of our unique rugged and steep terrain on the lower part of the mountain, but also to incorporate the use of the Centennial Express Lift, making it easier for spectators to watch the event from a variety of locations around the mountain,” says Doug Lovell, chief operating officer at Beaver Creek. “The course travels up to Spruce Saddle, which is situated at 10,200 feet and produces an elevation gain of 2,000 feet for participants. With staged start heats, participants spread out all over the course and activity is taking place all over the mountain and village throughout the day; it’s a very festive atmosphere for the participants and spectators.”
One of the most interesting aspects of the Tough Mudder challenges is their ability to attract people from beyond the regions where they’re held.
Eagle-Vail resident Erik Williams did the Beaver Creek Tough Mudder last year; the 12-year Vail Valley resident said he didn’t recognize many local faces out there.
“Most everybody I met was from far away,” he said. “The guy I ran beside for a long time flew out from New York just to do it. You’d get bunched up at some of the obstacles and start talking to people and say ‘where are you from?’ and you’d hear ‘We’re from Utah,’ or ‘We’re from California, we drove out with six guys.'”
Shawn Hogan is now a Vail Valley resident, but before he moved here he was living in Lawrence, Kan. He’s never done the Beaver Creek Tough Mudder, but by the time this year’s event hits the Beav’ on June 9 he’ll have done two other Tough Mudder events, one in Texas and one in England.
The Texas event was in Austin in January 2011. Hogan and a group of friends drove down from Lawrence to participate in it, an 11-hour drive.
“It’s a good way to get your friends out there and do something fun with them,” he said. “It pushes people who aren’t generally physically fit to get into shape.”
Hogan is flying to England this week to participate in the South-East/Midlands Tough Mudder in Kettering, Northhamptonshire. Once again, he’s planning on making the trip a reunion with friends as well as an endurance challenge.
“I like to do something physical when I travel, instead of just the partying aspect of it,” he said. “I’d rather meet friends, do something physical and then go party afterwards.”
Hogan has put a team together for the Beaver Creek event, Team Tap the Rockies. He’s already convinced Coors to sign on as their sponsor and provide the jerseys. And once again, he’ll be reuniting with friends at the event.
“A group of friends is driving in from Lawrence to be on our team,” he said.
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