MOUNT PLEASANT — Well before sunrise Saturday morning, neighbors living in the normally quiet, small town of Mount Pleasant awoke to popular music echoing in the streets. The early morning acoustics were emanating from Foil Farms the site of this year’s Tough Mudder Carolinas event. If you have never heard of a Tough Mudder event, think marathon running mixed with tricky obstacles designed to test your athleticism, endurance and willpower. Plus, as you may have guessed from the name, there is a lot of mud involved.
More than 6,000 competitors traveled to Foil Farms over the weekend to get messy. Some were there to raise money for charity, others to bond with friends, co-workers or family and others to test their “toughness.” The athletes tackled obstacles many would describe as insane. One of the new obstacles added to the traveling course challenge this year had participants slogging through chest deep water with a metal grate placed just inches above the waterline. To escape, competitors climbed up and out a long, dark, water-logged tube to freedom.
Then there was an obstacle called the Block Ness Monster. Mudders, as the staff calls them, have to push, pull and roll their way through 60 feet of slick, rotating barriers strung across a muddy pit. Block Ness Monster is a competitors’ favorite and was voted the highest rated obstacle of all. The most shocking obstacle was one appropriately named Electroshock Therapy. Dozens of exposed wires hang down over a pool of watery mud delivering 10,000 volts to anyone who ran through it. Electroshock Therapy was the last and final test at Tough Mudder Carolinas before contestants got their well-deserved victory beer.
The impact of this weekend’s Tough Mudder Carolinas event stretched well beyond the small town of Mount Pleasant. With a population of just under 2,000 itself, the town’s population more than tripled with mudders last weekend. Ethan Metelenis, publicist for Tough Mudder, confirmed that 6,000 people were a part of the event. That total includes mudders, staff, volunteers and spectators. A majority of those people were from out of town, traveling from states up and down the East Coast. They flooded area hotels all of the way from Charlotte to Kannapolis and everywhere in between.
Tough Mudder organizers estimate local economic impact for their events to be anywhere from $2 million to $10 million. Many area businesses looked to take advantage of mudder money this past weekend as well, offering discounts to competitors who completed the course and showed their participant headbands.
Another way the event had an impact was raising money for charities. Organizers say, on average, about $10 million goes to a host of different charities every time they sponsor and event. Mudders who choose to run for a charity — and meet a set sponsor amount — get to tackle the course for free. One charity many mudders run for is Team Rubicon. Team Rubicon is a nonprofit disaster response organization that mobilizes military veterans to support communities devastated by natural disasters. They deliver disaster response services to mitigate hazards, clear dangerous debris and provide emergency home repair.
If you are considering a run in the future and are wondering just how tough the Tough Mudder course is, organizers say close to 80 percent of mudders make it to the finish line. Total length of each course is 10-12 miles. More than 150 Tough Mudder obstacles have been put on across the country since 2010.