Mud plays a role in Eagle County summer events
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Staging a successful athletic event that draws thousands of participants has always required an evolving combination of ingredients. The latest, it seems, is mud.
Last year’s Tough Mudder adventure race in Beaver Creek was a big, dirty success, bringing thousands to the resort. Vail Resorts this week announced that Tough Mudder would return June 9 and 10. But the event – part of a national series – doesn’t look like it’ll need much of Vail Resorts’ marketing clout.
“It’s already 91 percent booked for Saturday and 71 percent for Sunday, and we’ve done nothing,” Beaver Creek Resort Company President Tim Baker said.
With that success in mind Jeff Brausch of Highline Sports and Entertainment has high hopes for Mojo Man, a new, similar event in Vail that will premiere Memorial Day weekend. Mojo Man has barely been announced, and a website for the event states only that it’s “coming soon.”
But, Brausch said, “we’ve already had an incredible response.”
Mojo Man and Tough Mudder are part of a new genre of athletic events that challenge participants in different ways, with a variety of obstacles and, yes, plenty of mud.
Baker, who played a few years in the National Football League, said he completely understands the events’ appeal, adding that if he wasn’t helping run Tough Mudder, he’d surely be participating.
“It’s a unique chance to do something you normally wouldn’t,” Baker said. Better yet, he said, Tough Mudder isn’t just for elite athletes.
“Anybody that wants to challenge themselves can come out and give it their best shot.”
Brausch said he expects a lot of Mojo Man participants to either walk or jog the Mike Kloser-designed course in Vail. But that’s OK – it’s getting out on the course that’s important.
Of course, getting dirty seems to play a big role. Baker laughed when asked if Tough Mudder would have the same appeal if it was “Tough Dusty” or something similar.
“I think it gives us a chance to revisit our childhood – and you know you’ve really done something when you’re done,” he said.
Brausch added that there’s something a little crazy about events like these. But, since they’re held in controlled environments, people can participate without worrying about danger.
“The popularity is both surprising and enlightening,” Brausch said.
Events like adventure races for adults weren’t what the Vail Valley Partnership had in mind when it focused a few years ago on luring participatory events to the valley. Partnership director Chris Romer said the idea, at first, was that youth sports tournaments and similar events would help fill beds in the valley during the summer and fall.
But, Romer said, he and other people at the Partnership underestimated the market.
“It turns out there’s a much broader spectrum of sports and events out there,” Romer said, rattling off a series of relatively new events from Tough Mudder to the Diva Half Marathon to the SnowBall Music Festival.
And, Romer added, people who organize those events want to be associated with the Vail and Beaver Creek brands.
“People want their events to be here,” he said. “That’s the power of the brand to participants, and, on the business-to-business side, to the promoters.”
Besides the adventure races, there are a pair of bicycling events coming to Vail this summer – the Tour of Vail and the Gran Fondo. Those events want to be associated with the Vail brand, Romer said.
Brausch said Mojo Man is trying to take full advantage of its Vail location. The course will run on both Vail Mountain and down into the town, and Brausch said he expects plenty of spectators will come to the in-town sections of the course.
And, while Brausch expects that perhaps 20 percent of Tough Mudder and Mojo Man participants will take in both events, there’s an added benefit.
“Participants always bring family or friends,” Brausch said. “They come for the race, then they hike, or eat out or shop. It really sends a message that Vail’s open for business.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.