Here's mud in your eye ... hopefully

Kenn Oliver
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Over 5,100 registrants for inaugural Mud Immortal race today

Over the past number of years, Tely 10 organizers have watched their numbers climb to the point where the last two races have topped out at around 3,500 entrants.
And while the marquee race of the province’s road running series will likely continue to see registration grow by small increments in the years to come, it has a long way to go if it hopes to match the interest in this weekend’s inaugural Mud Immortal.

Over the past number of years, Tely 10 organizers have watched their numbers climb to the point where the last two races have topped out at around 3,500 entrants.

And while the marquee race of the province’s road running series will likely continue to see registration grow by small increments in the years to come, it has a long way to go if it hopes to match the interest in this weekend’s inaugural Mud Immortal.

Over 5,100 people will take part in Saturday’s five-kilometre obstacle-strewn adventure challenge in Butter Pot Provincial Park, making it arguably the largest single fitness event ever held in the province.

“We had initially planned to max out at 2,500,” says Mud Immortal brainchild and managing director Jonathan Brett. “We were there about a month and a half in.

“So I went back to Butter Pot and re-evaluated our obstacles and almost tripled the size of our course to accommodate double the amount of people.”

Mud Immortal’s concept isn’t a new one. Brett says the “mud-style races have been the craze now for the past five years around North America.”

Some of the well-recognized brands include Tough Mudder, the Spartan Race and the Canadian-based Mud Hero. Locally, a company called Glory Dash held two such events in Clarenville and St. John’s recently, albeit with significantly less people taking part.

“We’re certainly in the same category as those, but I think we differentiate ourselves in that we’re branding to the every day person rather than the elite athletes,” explains Brett.

Some of the similar-style events on the mainland are a little more sadistically designed with obstacles that include ice baths and mild electric shock.

“Our obstacles are certainly difficult for the everyday runner up to the elite athletes, but I think they’re can be completed by everyone,” Brett says.

As such, some of the tougher obstacles, like the monkey bars, will have an easier alternative. What’s more, helping a fellow competitor through and obstacle is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.

“Mud Immortal is more of a challenge than a race. We want people to get out there, have fun, bring their friends, bring their co-workers and work with them to get to the finish line.”

But if something looks too daunting to attempt, one can continue the race after accepting a penalty; burpees or two-minutes tacked on to the finishing time

The obstacles were engineered by a Philadelphia-based company (the same one used by the Spartan Race) and were assembled in St. John’s.

The mud, however, is 100 per cent homemade with truckloads of topsoil sent to Butter Pot earlier this week and muddy obstacles placed near sources of water where a pump can be used to make mud.


Party in the park

To alleviate a potential backlog of participants, groups of 500 will leave the start line starting at 9 a.m. until 2:30.

But with over 5,000 people taking part, Brett admits there will be challenges. Parking chief among them.

“It’s probably the most people who have ever been in Butter Pot,” he says, adding that parking on site is limited and comes with a $5 charge.

“We’ve rented buses to go every half hour leaving from the Bowring Park area. That also gives them the opportunity to have a couple of beer and relax without having to worry about their vehicle.”

There will be plenty of opportunity for mud-soaked participants to relax following the race with the Mud Immortal kitchen party — complete with two bands, a DJ, a beer tent and barbecue — set up next to the finish line.

Prizes will be award to the top male and female finishers, with secondary prizes for the largest team, best neon costume and best costume overall.

“In the past week we’ve probably had 50 to 60 people emailing us with their costumes, many of which entail a lot of neon. There’s unicorn costumes, Super Mario Bros. and pretty much the most ridiculous things they can find at Value Village.

While Mud Immortal is a for-profit venture, a portion of every registration, 100 per cent of the beer sales, and the $5 fee for the shuttle to Butter Pot will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Brett and company are also partnering with the Salvation Army.

“Anyone who has muddy clothes they don’t want to bring home, we’ll take all that, get it professionally cleaned and donate it.”

Spectators are encouraged to attend and can use the same bus service to get back and forth from Butter Pot.

“They won’t see the inner workings, unfortunately, but they can see the starting line and then they’ll be shuttled down to the finish line.”


Organizations: Super Mario Bros., Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, Salvation Army

Geographic location: Butter Pot Provincial Park, North America, Clarenville Bowring Park

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Recent comments

  • Jennifer Barnable
    September 22, 2013 - 22:35

    Read an account of participants experiences and the REALITY of the debacle that was Mud Immortal:

  • Melodie
    September 22, 2013 - 20:35

    MUD Immortal was poorly organized in every way imaginable. Now is the time for The Telegram to investigate into this further to prevent future scandals and scams such as this "mess of an event" to reoccur. As anyone who wishes to hold another event similar to this I would think that a lot of people will have second thoughts about paying their hard earned money to line greedy pockets. Shame on the organizers ! Shame on Johhnathan made your name well known now! I won't EVER pay for anything you're associated with.

  • Bill
    September 22, 2013 - 05:18

    So glad I never attended. A total farce from what I'm reading. Go to Facebook to get the real story.

  • Judy
    September 22, 2013 - 00:10

    The telegram needs to go on mud immortal Facebook page and read all the comments. You need to expose this event as the farce it was.!

  • mike
    September 21, 2013 - 21:10

    I really hope you follow up on this story. I'm pretty sure there is argument for criminal negligence due to the danger that all the racers were put in today. The "obstacles" were slapped together from 2x4s and were falling apart throughout the day. None of the promises were delivered on. The big story here is how someone scammed upwards of 400k through outright lies!

    • Francis
      October 14, 2013 - 07:14

      But weren't the obstacles "engineered by a Philadelphia-based company"? Ha.ha.ha

  • Kris
    September 21, 2013 - 20:27

    Complete and utter rip-off/scam/false advertising. Most people can live with a few issues of the issues, (i.e. waiting in lines, parking (there is only so many spaces)) in the first year of putting off an event. However, many of the things advertised were not delivered on. Obstacles were pooly made and unsafe. There was no water, BBQ, timing chips, or shuttle busses. Registration should have been cut off to a manageble number of participants, but I suspect greed is a major factor, as someone walked away from this with a lot of money in their pocket. I suspect very little went to the Alzheimers Society of NL as I saw noone at the bag check or shuttle busses (there were none) collecting money on their behalf. Their facebook page has been bombarded with negative feedback with no reply from the organizers.

  • Melissa
    September 21, 2013 - 18:21

    What a joke! What was promised here in your article, as well as on the website - was nothing like what actually happened today. No food, very unsafe obstacles, dirty water, long lines and no shuttle but a 1-2km uphill hike to get back to the start (bag check/unattended bag drop.) Poorly organized - someone just made a lot of money by ripping people off.

  • Kim Lewis
    September 21, 2013 - 18:20

    This event was a huge disappointment and absolutely nothing like it was described!

    • Mud Sucker
      September 22, 2013 - 10:57

      I must give credit where it's due and that to the marketing of Mud Immortal. Attractive graphics and website, witty status updates and lofty promises of this being an amazing race. It was not so. I had a few issues, which I will share here as Mud Immortal is deleting truthful comments from disgruntled participants on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Insufficient parking. Cars parked on the roadsides brought it down to one lane in and out of Butterpot, poor access for cars and emergency vehicles. Line-ups for a completely disorganized registration process (no ID required after all). No signage. Some people waited 2-3 hours, in turn, delaying their start time significantly. No numbers control for starting groups. Organizer had absolutely no idea who or how many were starting at any given time. A bag check was promised. This was an unattended pile of bags on pavement, left at your own risk. Obstacles were unsupervised by medical staff, unstable and poorly built, people were injured. Not as many as promised, lack of mud at them. Only mud present was during a trek through the bog, where we could see Pitcher plants, protected vegetation, trampled on by thousands. There were long lineups at the 3 or 4 actual obstacles on the course, meaning this was not a race as advertised. No timing. No assigned bib numbers. One major issue was water availability. Water at the halfway point was sourced from a tap in the park that was boil only. Saw this first hand. There was no food or water provided at the end of the course. Only a beer tent. Lastly, the finish line was about 1.5 km from where the bags were left. There was a shuttle bus promised between the finish an start, not present. The wet, cold walk back to the park entrance was more of a challenge than the actual course. Lastly, this cost about $70 per person with the 25% discount. So many unhappy people, and rightly so. Not only did this "entrepreneur" rake in about $400K for this event, I saw absolutely not one person on this course that was actually paid to be there. Just confused volunteers (unidentifiable in the crowd as they were not given any form of t-shirt or name tag) not knowing what their job was. Some of the race participants had to get in to help out the registration process. We can't let another event like this happen again. With the events at Salmon Fest and now this, something needs to be done to protect event-goers in NL.