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More than 13,000 expected at Tough Mudder in Berkeley County

April 19, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Thousands of people are expected to slog through a muddy and physically challenging obstacle course in Berkeley County this weekend as part of Tough Mudder, a fast-growing endurance series.

The first wave of more than 13,000 “mudders” are expected to start the near 12-mile course about 8 a.m. Saturday near Glengary, W.Va., at Peacemaker National Training Center, which is hosting the two-day event, according to organizers.

Created by a former counter-terrorism agent for the British government, Tough Mudder events challenge participants to complete muddy 10- to 12-mile obstacle courses that are designed to test all-around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie of participants, according to the company.

“Every course is custom to the venue,” Tough Mudder general manager Ben Story said Friday. “It’s beautiful here.”

Proceeds from the event benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity that supports wounded veterans and service members.

“Mudders” and spectators for this weekend’s event must take a shuttle bus from Tabler Station Business Park off Exit 8 of Interstate 81 to reach the event site at the firearms training complex, which to most people will seem like “out in the middle of nowhere,” Peacemaker National Training Center president Cole McCulloch said Friday.

“This topography out here, this will crush ya,’” said McCulloch, describing the ground as hilly, rugged and shaley.

The obstacle course for what is Tough Mudder’s Mid-Atlantic Spring event is designed to be very difficult, and the terrain is at times muddy, slippery, and potentially dangerous, according to Tough Mudder’s website.

Participants and spectators are asked to complete a liability waiver, and Tough Mudder advises those who take part in the event will be wet after the first mile. More than 10,000 people are expected to take to the course Saturday and more than 3,000 are expected Sunday, Story said.

Work on the obstacle course, which was built on about 500 acres, began about a month ago, McCulloch said.

“They’re actually going to run this thing right through the shooting range,” McCulloch said. Peacemaker National Training Center, which opened in 2011, was built on about 2,300 acres near the small community of Glengary. The firearms training complex claims to be the largest shooting sports complex on the East Coast and a world leader for the number of shooting competitions held there.

The shooting range will be closed for Tough Mudder this weekend, but McCulloch anticipates the special event will bring more attention to the firearms training complex, which features 17 shooting ranges and hosts a number of shooting competitions.

If all goes well this weekend, McCulloch said he expects Tough Mudder’s Mid-Atlantic Fall event will be held there in October. McCulloch said he signed a three-year contract to host Tough Mudder events, but noted there is an “opt out” clause in the agreement.

McCulloch said he and others involved have been “wise and sensitive” to traffic concerns and other issues, which prompted the cancellation of the second day of the Tough Mudder last year in Frederick, Md.

The decision to use shuttle buses and eliminate on-site parking were made to address traffic concerns, and McCulloch said he doesn’t expect any significant problems to arise after working through logistics with community leaders.

McCulloch expects the Tough Mudder event will leave an economic impact worth “multiple millions” of dollars.

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Laura Gassler said Friday that the event has helped fill area hotels, which reported having few available rooms earlier this month. Tough Mudder also has generated business for local vendors and organizations, according to McCulloch.

Tough Mudder officials said their events typically leave a positive economic impact ranging between $2 and $5 million.

Since the first three events were held in 2010, Tough Mudder said more than $5 million has been raised for the Wounded Warrior Project. Tough Mudder has 52 events planned for this year, up from 36 in 2012.

Founded in 2003 in Roanoke, Va., the Wounded Warrior Project is a charity that supports veterans and service members who incurred injury on or after September 11, 2001, according to the organization’s website.

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