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Tough Mudder official: traffic, weather contingencies covered

A team at last year’s Tough Mudder makes it through one of the many sloppy obstacles along the 10- to 12-mile course. (Submitted photo by Tough Mudder Inc.)1 / 2
A woman conquers a mud pit topped with barbed wire at last year’s event. (Submitted photo by Tough Mudder Inc.)2 / 2

Organizers were confident last week that no major logistical snafus will mar the Tough Mudder team race in St. Joseph Township July 19-20, despite competition from other local events and a summer of heavy rains.

“At the moment, we have contingencies in place in case things change,” Paul Gilman, general manager of Tough Mudder’s U.S. central region, said in a telephone interview July 11. “But all indications are that we should be able to proceed according to our original plans.”

Some local observers were worried last week that Stillwater’s 80th annual Lumberjack Days/Log Jam July 18-20 might cause traffic snarls, particularly on and near Hwy. 35, when an expected 14,000 Tough Mudder spectators flock to local roadways Saturday and Sunday.

Stillwater’s big summer festival is also scheduled to include a downtown Fine Arts Crawl July 18 and 19, and the St. Croix County Fair is set for July 16-20 in Glenwood City, about 30 miles east.

Gilman, however, said a “preferred” I-94/Hwy. 65/County E route to avoid traffic problems has been well-publicized with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office and about 250 Tough Mudder volunteers, both of which will be handling visitors’ arrival and departure.

Added Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Klatt in another telephone interview: “The preferred route is that people use I-94, Hwy. 65 and County E, and then come back west to get to Tough Mudder. Probably the only problem might be right around the entrance, but other than that, traffic should be pretty well spread out.”

This year’s 10- to 12-mile, gauntlet-style Minneapolis/St. Paul Tough Mudder will be held at the 900-acre Game Unlimited, 871 County E.

Fliers have been sent out, and signs directing spectators and participants to Tough Mudder parking areas also will be up for the two-day “America’s Toughest Obstacle Course,” Gilman said.

Good weather expected

“We have been to the venue a couple of times leading up to the event, and we’ve had a very strong dialog with everybody involved there,” he added. “So we think we’re in pretty good shape. … Frankly, I don’t think police will have to help us very much with any traffic issues. It should all go relatively well.”

Klatt said two officers have been assigned to the event and that back-up will be available if needed.

He also noted that vehicle and smart-phone GPS systems will allow many drivers to stay on top of any traffic-congestion issues and alternate routes to the Tough Mudder grounds.

Saturday’s Tough Mudder events are sold out, with about 9,000 ticket holders expected, Gilman said. Sunday’s Tough Mudder was listed on the event’s website as “90 percent full,” with about 3,500 spectators registered as of July 11.

Gilman said local, regional and national organizers have been well aware of this summer’s heavy local rains and have been “keeping an eye on the grounds” to head off any problems with water-soaked parking and spectator areas.

Volunteers and signage will be key there as well, he added.

“We’re ready for whatever happens, but all indications are that we should actually get pretty good weather leading up to this coming weekend,” Gilman said.

According to Klatt, worst-case back-up parking plans might include alternate facilities in some areas of the site, with buses transporting spectators to the Tough Mudder course.

The event is designed to test participants’ strength, stamina, mental grit and team camaraderie.

“Mudders” not only have to run the course, they also have to overcome obstacles of mud, fire, ice water and more. They scale cliffs, wriggle through mud tunnels, swim underwater, drag huge tires by rope, leap over logs, shimmy up gigantic mounds of hay bales and conquer many other barriers.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Tough Mudder is one of dozens worldwide every year.

In 2012 and 2013, the Twin Cities event was held in Somerset. The Wisconsin Tough Mudder is scheduled for Sept. 6-7 in Plymouth, about 60 miles north of Milwaukee.

Chuck Nowlen

Chuck Nowlen joined the Star-Observer team as a business, township and general-assignment reporter in April, 2014 after a three-decade career in newspapers and magazines, and as a newsroom-management/business-planning consultant.

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