MANSFIELD — An event known as the premier adventure challenge series in the world is expected to generate $2.1 million for Mansfield in just one weekend.
On Tuesday, Mansfield City Council entered into a five-year contract with Tough Mudder LLC to host extreme obstacle course challenges on 490 acres of city-owned property north of Lahm Airport.
The first event is scheduled to occur April 27 and 28.
Safety Service Director Lori Cope said attendance at Tough Mudder events is anticipated to be between 10,000 and 20,000 people.
In addition to the estimated $2.1 million expected from hotel, gas stations and restaurants, Cope said Tough Mudder is paying the city $30,000 per year to host their events.
“I think it’s amazing. It’s a huge win for the city,” she said, crediting Mayor Tim Theaker for his involvement and approval. “It’s both physically and mentally challenging. You’re not trying to come in first place. You’re just trying to finish it.”
The 10- to 12-mile course includes 12 to 15 obstacles, which includes mud, ice, fire and electric shock.
“You crawl through little tunnels, climb over walls, go through water, up steep cliffs that they will create. You run through fire. There are electric shocks in different places,” Cope said. “It’s pretty crazy.”
Clear Fork Reservoir operations supervisor Gary Foster competed in one last year with a group of Mansfield police officers in Amherst, and said he plans to do it again.
“It is definitely a challenge,” said Foster, 45. “We thought (Officer) Korey Kaufman broke his foot. I watched another guy break his arm. They will ask you before you compete if you have proof of life insurance. If not, they’ll offer it to you. You’re jumping off 40-foot towers into water, carrying logs up hills. You’re not just out there running down the road. It adds a lot of pressure to your body, but that’s why people want to do it — to see how far they can be pushed.”
Many participants compete in teams.
“You have the help of the people you’re going through it with,” Cope said. “It’s an amazing personal accomplishment.”
Cope said the Tough Mudder crew builds the entire course and also will take care of the teardown.
“They dig mud holes, swimming holes, build cliffs,” she said. “They make the land exactly as they need for the event, and before they go, they return it exactly as it was. You’d never know it was there. It really is a quality event.”
Money generated at Tough Mudders worldwide benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
City Engineer James DeSanto said in coming weeks, the city will assemble and work with a planning team made up of local safety officials, the Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tough Mudder staff and others to coordinate traffic and safety efforts associated with events that could attracted thousands.
Cope said a meeting should take place mid-January.
“We hope it brings in a lot of new people to Mansfield and really puts us on the map,” Cope said. “We know people come in from other states to do these events. There are so many financial benefits for us.”
Lee Tasseff, president of the Mansfield/Richland County Convention & Visitors Bureau, was thrilled about the contract.
He noted Downtown Mansfield Inc. also has been instrumental in securing the contract. Both agencies worked with Tough Mudder officials to sort out initial details before presenting it to the city.
“Because of the sheer fact of how many people in a short period of time will stay in Mansfield and Richland County, it’s almost like adding another race weekend here at a slower time of the year,” he said.
“The impact is significant as grocery stores, gas stations, hotels, etc. are usually slower at this time of the year.”
Tasseff said he didn’t want to compare the weekend to other major local events like Miss Ohio Week and Mid-Ohio race weekends.
“This event should stand on its own,” he said. “But this is a great example of an event coming together because of local organizations working together. We’re thrilled that the city could make this happen.”
For information, visit toughmudder.com.
December 20, 2012