Saturday and Sunday the Missouri State Fairgrounds will be transformed into an obstacle course that will challenge participants and thrill spectators as the Tough Mudder Challenge is hosted at the historic venue.
Sedalia Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Carolyn Crooker said she had wanted to get Tough Mudder to come to Sedalia for a number of years.
“I really wanted them here and I kept after them until I got them,” Crooker said with a smile last Friday. “It’s a great event for all the participants and spectators but it will also be good for the economy of Sedalia.
“There are a lot of people who have made Tough Mudder their niche,” she added. “People from across the United States follow this event and participate because it’s their passion and they love it so much.”
With an estimated 5,000 participants, Crooker said all area hotels and motels are booked for the weekend and restaurants and stores are getting ready for the event.
While there are expected to be a number of legionnaires, or people who have participated in the event multiple times, as well as many first timers, the course will present new obstacles and challenges, according to Construction Manager John Young and Course Supervisor Joe Castellaneta, both of Tough Madder.
“We always set the course different at every event so it is new, exciting and challenging for the participants,” Castellaneta said Tuesday morning at the fairgrounds. “We try to take what the participants like and keep some of the favorites but we always keep changing the arrangement and order of the obstacles.
“We use the natural terrain of each location in determining how we lay out the course,” he added. “This is a really good location for us.”
This weekend’s event will use an estimated 300,000 gallons of water and 30,000 pounds of ice.
One event, the Mud Mile, features 40 yards of mud that participants will have to navigate, according to Castellaneta, who added that 12 of the obstacles on the fairgrounds will include either mud or water, many involving both.
Tough Mudder generally requires the venue have at least 400 acres available.
“We have to have that much land to fit in the 10- to 12-mile running course for the event,” Young explained. “There are between 20 to 25 obstacles at each event so you have to look at the available space.
“We have set up events anywhere from farms to speedways on both private and public property,” he continued. “Usually we like to have between two to three full weeks to set the course up but each one is very different.”
Young said each obstacle can take between a half a day to more than a day to set and he and his team are responsible for both the set-up and the tear-down.
“Three months prior to the event we meet with the local organizers on site to scout out the venue,” Young said. “The course designers, supervisor, operation manager, construction manager and operation coordinator from Tough Mudder are all present, but the ultimate decision of what goes where is up to the course supervisor.”
Castellaneta said one of his goals in planning the layout is to optimize the experience for both the participants and spectators.
“If this weekend is the first time you’ve participated in a Tough Mudder we want to make it something you will want to come back and do again, but we also want it to be unique and something that the people who have done it a number of times won’t feel like they have seen before,” Castellaneta said. “For the spectators we want them to be able to see the events that are really fun to watch and that challenge the participants.
“There is definitely a perk to our jobs because we get to test the obstacles out,” he added. “We always are trying to stay ahead of the sport and design new obstacles with the production team.”
Castellaneta and Young have both completed the course during their time working for Tough Mudder. Each has favorite events but both men emphasized that the event is not a race but rather a challenge.
“There really aren’t a lot of individuals who participate, instead the majority are with a team or with a friend or relatives,” Young said. “Several of the obstacles are designed for teamwork and they are really difficult to complete by yourself.
“It really isn’t a race but it’s a way for individuals to strive for personal goals and to challenge themselves,” he added.
Castellanta said participants should come and enjoy the opportunity, offering the advice of wearing comfortable clothes that can be ruined and that the shoes worn should be tied tight during the challenge.
“For me this is a once in a lifetime job,” Young said. “I get to travel and see the country and still do the work I enjoy doing.
“We have more than 40 events in North America alone and we have a lot of events in the spring and fall because they do depend a lot on the weather,” he added. “It’s a lifestyle I really enjoy.”
Castellaneta, who has been with Tough Mudder more than two years, said it was a life he also enjoys.
“It’s been a really good week and I’m looking forward to the weekend and the event,” Castellaneta said. “The fairgrounds is a great venue and Sedalia is a great city.”
Crooker said volunteers are still needed for Sunday’s event. Susan Mergen, Volunteers Coordinator for the CVB on the Tough Mudder event, said 30 more people would be ideal for Sunday’s volunteer shift. Shift options are 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., noon to 7 p.m. or an all-day volunteer from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Individuals who are interested in being a volunteer may register at toughmudder.com, click on Learn More, then click on Volunteers. For local questions contact Mergen at 287-0867.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.