The village was packed this weekend for the second straight year thanks to Tough Mudder attracting an estimated 25,000 visitors to Whistler during a weekend previously thought of as a classic shoulder season weekend.
The mass-participation event at Whistler Olympic Park (WOP) attracted competitors on Saturday and Sunday to run or walk an 18-kilometre course dotted with military-style obstacle courses. With names like Kiss the Mud, Arctic Enema, Electric Eel, Walk the Plank and Mud Mile the obstacles tested mental strength along with physical abilities. The obstacles challenged participants' fears by confronting the competitors with cold water, mud, barbed wire, heights and fire.
Tough Mudder management indicated through a media relations representative that they weren't ready to answer questions about the event ahead of the Pique editorial deadline but the organizers did confirm that more than 16,000 people participated in the event and more than 6,000 people registered as spectators. The organizers also confirmed that $45,000 from the Whistler event was donated to the Wounded Warrior Fund, the main charity supported by Tough Mudder.
Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said that once again Tough Mudder seemed to be a really good fit for Whistler. An economic study of the event is being done. There are no numbers immediately available to confirm the benefit of the event but the mayor said that in her discussions over the weekend with business owners and village workers the consensus was that many Tough Mudder participants stayed in the village and turned their participation in the event into a full Whistler weekend.
"It was very interesting to speak to people in the restaurant and hospitality sector because they were talking about how so many of the race participants and their friends and family were just so thrilled to be in Whistler. They had a great event, they were happy. I didn't hear one negative report," said Wilhelm-Morden.
Vancouver Coastal Health also had nothing negative to report as the Whistler Health Clinic was particularly quiet because the first aid and medical team at WOP effectively dealt with all event-related injuries at the venue.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler gave the event organizers $112,000 in Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) money to support the shuttle system between the resort and WOP. The aim was to reduce traffic between the venue and the village while also making it easier for visitors to spend more time in Whistler. The effectiveness of the shuttle as an economic development vehicle will be explored through an economic impact study being done by the Canadian Sport and Tourism Alliance.
"We were very happy to host them again this year," said Wilhelm-Morden of the Tough Mudder organizers and participants. "We're looking forward to talking about next year's event."
Lindsay Durno, the WOP director with Whistler Sport Legacies, is also looking forward to next year. Many improvements were made over last year. Durno said the shuttle system was better this year and the addition of a mobile Wi-Fi system on the top of the judging tower meant Internet communications were improved this year.