STORY WRITTEN BY FRAN MAYE
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EAST MARLBOROUGH>>About 9,000 people will flock to Unionville Oct. 17 and 18 for Tough Mudder, an Ironman-type event that encompasses a 10-mile course involving climbs, jumps, crawls, and of course, mud.
The event will take place on the 500-acre Plantation Fields off Route 82 at Green Valley Road. Billed as the toughest event on the planet, it will feature a 10-mile course with 22 obstacles, many of which are nearly impossible to navigate without help. One of the obstacles involves crawling through a small, water-filled duct that runs under Green Valley Road.
“This is really about teamwork and camaraderie, and pushing your physical and mental limits,” said Jodi Kovats, Tough Mudder spokeswoman. “It’s not a competition or a race, it’s a challenge. It’s about helping each other overcome obstacles.”
Kovats said participants will be coming from New York, Washington D.C., Maryland and Philadelphia. She said 95 percent of people sign up as a team because completing the course is so difficult.
“Even those who don’t sign up as a team get a helping hand,” she said. “It’s really about helping each other, not about finishing time. “People have become lifelong friends after this.”
The course is being built by Valley Builders from Lehigh Valley, and it costs tens of thousands of dollars to build and takes more than a week. Heavy equipment operators have been digging pits as deep as 15 feet, and crews are assembling the obstacles.
Cuyler Walker, an East Marlborough supervisor whose family owns the field, said he was delighted to bring the event to Unionville. Last year, he said, a Muderella event was held at the field, the workers restored it perfectly after the event.
“They are extremely diligent about their restoration,” Walker said. “I came back and couldn’t tell (the field) had even been disturbed.”
At the event, there will be a ShockTop beer garden, and food from local vendors. Those who finish the race will be treated to a beer at the finish line. Spectators will be permitted to walk the course on designated routes, and can cheer on their friends and family near all of the obstacles, even the challenging Everest 2.0 in which very few people can climb without assistance.
And on both Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17 and 18, the U.S. Army will bring in their esteemed Golden Knights Parachute Team and parachute onto Plantation Field. The first jump will feature a single parachutist carrying the American Flag.
And new is the Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder, a one-mile obstacle course for children ages 7-12. Children will get muddy, and learn to work as a team.
There will be medics on site, as well as a temporary medical center. All participants must sign a liability waiver because the event is extremely taxing.
Some of the obstacles include:
Arctic Enema – Participants plunge into a dumpster filled with ice water, dunk underneath a plank that crosses the dumpster, and pull themselves out on other side.
Funky Monkey – A set of incline and decline monkey bars over a pit of cold water. The bars are slicked with a mixture of butter and mud.
Everest – Participants run up a quarter pipe slicked with mud and grease.
Berlin Wall – An 8- to 12-foot wall that participants scale.
Boa Constrictor – Participants pass though narrow pipes and mud.
Walk the Plank – 15-foot high jump, from on top of a platform, into water.
King of the Swingers – Participants use a pendulum to swing off a 12-foot platform and attempt to hit a bell before falling into a pit of water.
Cry Baby – Participants crawl through a tunnel filled with a tear-gas-like substance.
Dead Ringer – Participants use handheld rings to traverse a set of inclined and declined pegs.
Balls Out – Participants use hanging rope to cross an angled wall.
Kovats said Tough Mudder is not just for the fit.
“People from all walks of live get on this course,” she said. “We have people from age 16 to 75. There are men and women of all ages and athletic abilities who will be participating.”
The price to participate is $185 in advance and includes head band, finisher T-shirt, free beer at the finish line and free photography. Mini Mudder registration is $20 in advance or $30 day of event. The price for spectators is $20 in advance, or $40 day of event and all spectators must show a valid identification. Spectators are also required to sign a waiver. Registration and information is available at www.toughmudder.com. Teams and corporate teams may be established by registering online.
Parking will be off site, at the field at Landhope Farms at routes 82 and 926, and a shuttle service will provide transportation to the staging area. Limited, on-site premium parking is available at 322 Apple Grove Road, and theses passes are available only online.
The event benefits the Plantation Field, which in turn donates to the Barn at Spring Brook Farm in Pocopson and to the Chester County Food Cupboard.
The first Tough Mudder event was held in the U.S. in 2010, and since then, more than 2 million people have participated worldwide.