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Muddy weekend good for resort business

Mudderella draws more than 9,000 to Blackcomb Mountain obstacle course



For the first time in the long history of the Brewhouse pub in Whistler, there were more women in the bar than men this past weekend.

These were Mudderella women, looking to celebrate their success after conquering a 10-kilometre obstacle course on Blackcomb Mountain.

And they were good for business.

They were so good in fact that the Brewhouse did record sales on the Saturday of the last weekend in September, as Whistler reached an estimated 80-per-cent hotel occupancy in the resort.

"I've never poured so many cocktails and wine in my entire life," said manager Andrea Rogers, who is used to serving the home-brewed Lifty Lager as opposed to fancy cocktails.

"We were packed, and what was really great was that we had all these big groups in for dinner. They were all Mudderella participants. It was a great atmosphere, everybody in a great mood... and the best part about it was... they didn't show up muddy! Unlike Tough Mudder, these women all showed up dressed to the nines after having done this massive event."

Mudderella is a business offshoot of the Tough Mudder event, which has been coming to Whistler since 2012. This was Mudderella's first year in Whistler. More than 9,000 participants braved the course on Blackcomb Mountain on Saturday Sept. 26, cheered along by roughly another 1,000 spectators.

Tourism Whistler does not have the official room night tally for the weekend but communications manager Patricia Westerholm said the weekend was pacing 88 per cent ahead of last year and 70 per cent ahead of 2013. Those comparisons are against comparable dates in 2014 and 2013 when the event did not occur. The same is true of June's Tough Mudder event, which takes once-quiet weekends and transforms them into almost resort sell-out dates.

"As a new event, Mudderella is a great addition to Whistler's ever-growing events calendar," said Westerholm via email. "September certainly has room for growth, and the pace of bookings heading into the dates for Mudderella indicate that this event helped to drive business on what has typically been a less-than-average weekend, in terms of room nights. Events like Mudderella help us with our strategies to grow business during need periods, like mid-week and shoulder season."

As it does with Tough Mudder to the tune of up to $125,000, the municipality also invested in Mudderella this year — up to $45,000. The municipality has not yet received an invoice from Tough Mudder Whistler and therefore cannot provide the final amount of their investment.

The Mudderella money, from the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding was "for services related to the design, construction, installation, operation and removal of a marquee obstacle called the 'Hat Trick.'"

Having Mudderella in the village, as opposed to the Callaghan Valley where Tough Mudder is held, put the event front and centre in Whistler.

"It gave us the opportunities to engage more directly with the businesses and the accommodation sector," said Nick Cogger, local director of operations.

"As usual, there was great support from the business community and the municipality and Whistler Blackcomb."

Like the Brewhouse, Purebread in the village, too, was slammed and they weren't really expecting it, given that Whistler has never hosted a Mudderella event before.

"We said those Mudderellas can eat like Ironmen," joked owner Paula Lamming. "They reckoned that they burned enough calories that they deserved it. I'm sure it was a lot of their reward."

The question among her staff though remains: When is shoulder season?

It's a question on many minds in Whistler as the event season extends further into the fall.

"We opened and closed the Canadian (Tough Mudder) event season in Whistler, so (it was) great to come back and finish it in our own backyard," said Cogger, adding that the Canadian head office is in Vancouver.

Tough Mudder is booked to return to Whistler on Saturday, June 18. Mudderella dates are not yet confirmed for 2016.