A person never wants to admit when something they love is struggling or not quite as good as it used to be.
Last year was a rough year for Tough Mudder. A lot of things were being whispered within the community about financial struggles, new ownership, and the like. Stories about lawsuits and competitors not being paid made their way around. The dreaded two-lap format made it’s debut.
It was a hard time to be an ambassador.
But here we are, on the other side of the 2019 season opener and things are looking up.
I made a decision pretty early on to go to the LA event based on the East Coast schedule and knowing that if I didn’t, my first event would be Virginia and I couldn’t handle the thought of waiting until June to start the season. FOMO is real y’all.
So this East Coast, Beast Coast girl made the trek to the West Coast and I have to say that I’m glad I did.
TMHQ put on a special event for the Ambassadors and let us see the venue, Mudder Villiage, and the obstacles closest to the village. And it was awesome.
We also got to spend some time with the TMHQ staff that was on site, including the new President, Kyle.
And things only got better from there.
Not only was the course amazing and tons of fun, when something needed changed due to long lines the staff was on it quickly. When suggestions were made about how things could be better they weren’t notated as something for the next venue but were put into place quickly if possible.
It felt like the feedback we were giving was being heard and considered immediately. We SAW the things happening.
Just an example: President Kyle spoke with a group that I was part of and one person mentioned that the metal landing at the top of Everest was hard on the knees while helping people up. About 20-30 minutes later I witnessed the construction crews lifting black mats onto the landing.
And honestly, it felt a little bit like my first event all over again. It felt like the cloud that had been hovering over Tough Mudder had finally blown away and the sun was shining once more.
A few other positives of note:
- The live DJ and crowd interaction. The music and crowd interaction made people stay longer and that made things more interesting. I can’t remember the last time I stayed at a venue as long as I did both days and a bit part of that was the atmosphere.
- TONS of seating. Picnic tables and chairs were all over the village and this was GREAT! it wasn’t like in the past with five or six tables and folding chairs. There had to have been 10-15 picnic tables and maybe 30 plastic deck chairs
- Games. There were several different games set up in Mudder Village to keep people entertained while relaxing before or after their event.
- Food trucks and food trucks and more food trucks. While this may have been in part because of the venue location, there was several good trucks and they were all offering different cuisine
- Shorter wait lines. I can remember multiple times last season that the wait to get a beer was unbelievably long. That wasn’t the case that I saw this time. I got beers for friends two different times and the wait was not longer than a few minutes. The same goes for the food trucks.
- Level up lanes. While I didn’t attempt all of them, it was really awesome to see the options. About a third of the obstacles had the level up option, which made for a lot of fun to watch.
- TMHQ presence on site. There is always TMHQ on site and they are always willing to talk but this weekend it was like they were just WAITING to hear what people had to say. And that was refreshing.
- Photographers. Obstacles with photographers had a sign that let you know they were there. And there were maybe 4-5 obstacles with someone there each day.
Now here’s the thing: I am a VERY positive person. I do have one complaint and this isn’t really something that’s a TMHQ problem, just something I noticed.
I LOVE volunteering, especially at a race because I am a people person and it’s a special place for me. That being said, the volunteers at obstacles this weekend were often lackadaisical and a bit lazy, for lack of a different term to use. It seemed to be a bit obvious that they were there only for the code to run for free.
Two different examples:
The volunteers at EST weren’t knocking down the wires. The three that I saw stayed sitting in the shade while someone else did it.
And while waiting in a longer line at Black Widow I realized that people were going across one at a time and not even using all lanes. But the volunteer at the obstacle wasn’t communicating with the participants that more than one person could be on the slack lines at a time OR that there was a completely open lane.
Overall, I feel rejuvenated going into this season. I’m hoping that this is the new norm and that it is replicated at all events, including ones that have to compete with another event the same weekend.
And if you found yourself disgruntled with Tough Mudder in the past few years, it may be time to jump in and give it another try!