Extreme obstacle race planned for Saugerties this summer

A participant completes an obstacle at the SoCal 2013 Tough Mudder challenge.

Endurance event series Tough Mudder, a gamut of obstacles that must be navigated by participants amidst deep muck, plans to make its Hudson Valley debut at Winston Farm on August 18 and 19 of this year. Tough Mudder is a race over an obstacle course that combines strength, balance, speed and lots of mud. The organization’s website shows hanging ropes, sheer walls and muddy-water barriers.

According to Tough Mudder operations manager Kylee Haggerty, the organization sponsors some 80 events per year across the United States and some foreign countries.

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Town planning board chair Howard Post said the status of the application won’t be certain until July. However, tickets for the event are already available on the Tough Mudder website. An estimated 4500 participants, according to event representatives, will tackle the course on the first day and 1200 participants are expected the next day.

“We still have to do all if the work basically — a SEQR review, and we have to check with the police department and emergency services. They need a mass gathering permit,” said Post. “I don’t foresee any problems, it’s just that basically [the planning board has been] given three months to get everything done.”

Tough Mudder is seeking a special-use permit from the town planning board. Haggerty said all parking will be on the site. Medical facilities will be available, and there’s a route on the site plan for ambulance egress. The plans also include sale of food, beer and Tough Mudder apparel.
At this introductory appearance, Haggerty and consultant Mike Stock, who is also working with the Schaller family, the owners of Winston Farm.

While hundreds of runners negotiating a course with installed obstacles will make a mess of the runners’ area, Haggerty assured the planning board that the field will be restored following the event. While the map shows the course running over a fairly large expanse, the actual disturbance would be limited to a ten-foot wide track.

The organizers have planned for evacuation, medical emergencies and severe weather, with a helicopter on site and a complete evacuation plan. While no physical exam is required for participants, the organizers will place staff along the track in case a runner is injured or sick. “Our medical staff is unparalleled,” Haggerty said. He has contacted police chief Joe Sinagra, and Diaz Ambulance has been contracted for the event.

Between June and April of this year, courses will be set up in 37 locations throughout this country. The event was designed “by maniacs for maniacs” in 2010.

“[Winston Farm is] a great piece of property for our event — it allows us to finally come to the Hudson Valley region and we’re excited to be in the upstate community,” said Haggerty. “Saugerties has been really great to work with. They’ve given us everything we need to put on a great Tough Mudder — open land and a variety of different terrains.”

Consultant Stock, working with both Tough Mudder and the Schallers, said the food, medical and sales would occupy about an acre. While the course itself will cover 100 acres, the disturbed area would be limited to the track, plus a little more for the obstacles. Altogether, the disturbed area would be less than ten acres.

All the water used in the event, including water available for participants to hose the mud off, but without soap, will be brought in and stored in tanks on the property, Haggerty said.

Speaking on behalf of the Schallers, Stock said the area would be reseeded and restored, as the owners have done after the other events, primarily concerts held at the farm Stretches of obstacle-dotted terrain are available to eventgoers in three-mile, five-mile and ten-mile increments. Among obstacles structures featured on the website are “Funky Monkey: The Revolution,” utilizing a series of wheels used to grapple from one platform to another, “Electroshock Therapy,” which involved navigating a thicket of electrically-charged wires, and something called “The Arctic Enema.”

“We’re hoping some of these people will book our hotels, our AirBnBs,” said tourism committee chair Marjorie Block.  “They were saying at the meeting that they won’t have showers, but they’ll have stations to get the worst of the mud off. Maybe they’ll change clothes and have something to eat in one of our restaurants.”

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