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Mud, water, snow, electric shocks at Beaver Creek

Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
CVR tough mudder KA 6-23-11
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BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Tough Mudder just might be the toughest event on the planet.

That’s what organizers claim about the event that tests everything from stamina to athleticism to mental strength.

Tough Mudder will take over Beaver Creek this weekend. More than 9,000 people are expected to race their way through 9 miles of mud, water, sweat and tears on Saturday and Sunday in heats of 500 people, every 20 minutes.

The event is definitely in line with what Beaver Creek is all about – “individuals that are very fit,” said Tim Baker, executive director of the Beaver Creek Resort Company.

Construction for the nine-mile Tough Mudder course began “the second the mountain closed,” Baker said. And after a record snow year, the Beaver Creek Ski Patrol has had to incorporate some of that snow into the course as patrollers have built it.

“Snow won’t get in the way of the race,” Baker said. “It definitely slowed down access to a few specific locations, but we were able to use some snow in the obstacles.”

And why not use snow in an event that claims to test “all-round toughness, strength, stamina and mental grit,” according to the Tough Mudder website.

It’s something Billy Kuhn, a personal trainer based out of the Gypsum Recreation Center, has been teaching to Team E Town, a group of about 10 or so competitors registered for Tough Mudder this weekend, many of whom work at E Town in Edwards.

Kuhn isn’t entering the event, but he’s been sharing his knowledge about physical and mental fitness with the team during boot camp-like training sessions over the past several weeks.

“The biggest thing about events like (Tough Mudder) is the unknown,” Kuhn said. “Your body gets so fatigued as you’re going through this. … It drains you physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Signe Jones, part of Team E Town, has never done anything like this before. She’s been training with Kuhn for 5 weeks, twice a week.

“We’re going for it, I guess. It’s a little scary, but whatever,” Jones said.

Scary is right. Obstacles like The Gauntlet, where participants have to run up through the skiing and snowboarding half pipe while being sprayed by snowmaking hoses, or Electroshock Therapy, where participants run through a series of overhead strands of string that are charged with pulsing electricity, are enough to get even the most seasoned athletes a little freaked out.

“I don’t think any of us have done anything like this,” Jones said. “We’re super, super pumped and excited – and a little nervous.”

Beaver Creek spokeswoman Jen Brown said the resort is committed to hosting Tough Mudder for the long haul. She said the event is so unique and it’s something very different for Beaver Creek.

There is a shock value with the event and it’s definitely “a little bit outrageous,” Brown said.

“It’s putting you in an uncomfortable position, not only physically, but also mentally,” she said.

Brown said the event is exciting, too, because it’s not about winning or losing.

“There are no winners. It’s all about the sense of accomplishment,” Brown said. “It’s not about your finish time or your placement, it’s about the spirit of competition, camaraderie and being together.”

That’s exactly the way Team E Town is approaching the event. Jones said the team members are not doing this to win.

“We’re all going to be there for each other,” Jones said. “We’ve gotten to become really good friends.”

It’s a mindset Kuhn has worked hard to create for Team E Town. He wants them to understand that they have to help each other get through it by staying positive and motivated.

“I want to get them in that frame of mind to push through,” Kuhn said.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.


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