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Participants in Saturday's Tough Mudder competition at Gunstock Mountain Resort ran through lots of man-made mud along the course. (DAN SEUFERT/Union Leader Correspondent)

Gunstock's 'Tough Mudder' really shocks runners


GILFORD - Dr. Barry Chapin has run a few marathons in his life, but he'd never participated in an obstacle endurance run, nor had he ever run through a trap of wires radiating 10,000 volts hanging over pits of mud-soaked hay.

But the Laconia doctor and his son did so Saturday, joining 16,000 other participants in the first-ever Tough Mudder event held at Gunstock.

Hot weather

In the 90-degree heat, he and son Sam and their five-person team ran through the 21 events, each of which is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces, according to the company, to test strength, stamina and mental grit and to promote camaraderie.

They finished in 4.5 hour.

The run is not a competition against others; it's meant to be a self-motivated test that also raises money for a good cause.

Wounded warriors

On Saturday it was the Wounded Warrior Project.

"It was grueling running up the mountain, and there were some really tough log jumps," Dr. Chapin said.

The 10,000-volt Electroshock Therapy event, which looked dangerous, was not so bad, he said.

"It was nothing more than a shock you'd get from an electric fence," he said.

"Overall, though, it was really fun," he said.

Fun is a big part of the Tough Mudder events.

The Tough Mudder's website gives two "facts" about the sport of "mudding," one of the fastest-growing sports businesses in the world: "Marathon running is boring" and "Mudders do not take themselves too seriously."

Among the events are the "Mud Mile," "Fire Walker," and "Trench Warfare."

The event was open to the public, but to get there, participants and spectators had to drive to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, the facility chosen to handle parking. Buses ran back and forth from Loudon to Gilford all day Saturday.

Big turnout

The shuttling was necessary because the event, which claims to be the premier obstacle course series in the world, brought so many competitors to Gilford, said Gunstock's Bill Quigley.

Tough Mudder events support the Wounded Warrior Project, which supports the needs of severely injured service men and women.

Tough Mudder participants are asked to raise funds for the company by emailing an online fundraising link to friends and family.

Raising money

If participants raise $150 or more, they receive a refund for the competition's $25 registration fee. Tough Mudder participants have raised more than $5 million for the project, the company said.

Tough Mudder, which reportedly saw its revenues jump from $2 million in 2010 to a projected $115 million-plus this year, was founded by Will Dean, formerly of Harvard's business school.

This year, Tough Mudder will host 53 events in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and Germany, according to the company.

dseufert@newstote.com

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