What’s the best way to get visitors and tourists to come to your mountain resort in the summer when most are down around the coast?

Hold an event that requires they crawl through mud, over a water barrier on ropes, and across a “trench of terror.”

That’s the reasoning at Sunday River, where Maine’s inaugural Tough Mountain Challenge will take place on Aug. 28.

Tapping into the ferocious success of the United Kingdom’s Tough Guy race, Sunday River is going to roll out a mud race unmatched in Maine and maybe New England.

“We want to make the Tough Mountain Challenge as challenging as possible. That’s what racers expect,” said Darcy Liberty, Sunday River spokesperson — and a competitor in the event.

Similar to the Tough Guy competitions in Europe, the race will feature an obstacle course over the resort’s terrain park elements, a mud crawl under barbed wire and a hill sprint up a steep dirt road.

The course will have 10 obstacles and be around 3 miles long.

Hundreds of people from all over Europe come in costumes to Tough Guy races in England and Wales to scale walls, wade through mud, go hypothermic and break bones.

Maine’s version may be slightly smaller in scale, but Liberty hopes just as daunting.

“Certainly some of the most interesting obstacles will be ‘Hurricane Alley’ with the snow guns and the “Parks, Pipe and Pain” through the terrain park,” Liberty said.

The race and festivities will be similar to Sunday River’s 10-year-old North American Wife Carrying contest that draws upwards of 3,000 spectators and ESPN.

“We’ve had great success with our signature events, the wife carrying in the fall, and in the winter Santa Sunday is a huge success.

“This is something we thought would fit well into the summer. It’s certainly unique and it has a unique appeal, whether people want to compete or just come up and watch,” Liberty said.

The course will be roped off and provide optimum viewing for the tough obstacles, just as the much shorter wife carrying course does. The October event has only 50 couples competing for the North American title, but thousands who watch it each year.

With this being the first year of the Tough Mountain Challenge, folks at Sunday River are not even sure what to expect.

To scale a waterfall on a rope or ford a stream? These are the last-minute decisions being made.

Yet there were 60 people entered Tuesday, just two weeks after the resort put out word on social network sites and its website.

Liberty said the hope is that as many as 200 show to climb, crawl and walk through muck.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

[email protected]


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