Hordes of folks, young and old, are planning to descend on Oxford Township this weekend to run, climb, crawl, push, pull, slog, sweat and bleed in the mud.
An estimated 10,500 to 11,000 participants and spectators are expected to attend the Tough Mudder event being held Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4 on the 1,200-acre Koenig Sand & Gravel property along Lakeville Rd.
“The sales are much higher than we expected,” said Brendan Quinn, operations manager for Tough Mudder. “It surprised us, but it’s a good surprise.”
Tough Mudder is a popular, team-based challenge where participants tackle a variety of military-style obstacles spread over a course designed to test their physical and mental strength, stamina and ability to work together to achieve common goals.
The obstacles are definitely not for the faint of heart as participants do everything from diving into freezing water filled with ice to sprinting through a field of dangling, live wires – a truly shocking experience.
Quinn’s advice to participants – “Cover your elbows, cover your knees. You do a lot more crawling than you think and sometimes it’s on gravel. You don’t want to get too cut up, too early.”
Tough Mudder is not a timed race. Everyone is encouraged to help each other complete the obstacles and finish the course. It takes approximately three to five hours to complete the full course.
There will be three courses on the Koenig site – the full Mudder with its 24 obstacles spread over 10.8 miles; the half Mudder with 13 obstacles spread over 5.5 miles; and the Mini Mudder, a quarter-mile course to be run four times, featuring nine obstacles for children who are ages 7-12 and at least 42 inches tall.
Kids age 14 and older can participate in the full or half Tough Mudders, but they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Participants are released onto the course in waves. On Saturday, the first wave will take off at 9 a.m. and the last at 10:30 a.m.
Quinn believes the Koenig Sand & Gravel property will make for a memorable and challenging Tough Mudder site.
“It’s a fantastic piece of land – a good find,” he said. “It’s got a variety of terrain and you don’t always see that so close to a population center. You’ve got great mud, you’ve got hills, you’ve got open fields, you’ve got big drop-offs – some would say cliffs. It has every combination of everything that you see across the country in one venue.”
Parking, parking, parking
There will be parking available on the Koenig site, but it can’t hold everybody.
“It makes for a very, very good course, but it doesn’t have a lot of flat, open space for parking,” Quinn said.
That’s why Tough Mudder is providing off-site parking at 15980 32 Mile Rd. in Ray Township and 126 N. Oxford Rd. in Oxford. It’s a 25-minute shuttle ride from the Ray Township site and a 3-minute shuttle ride from the N. Oxford Rd. site, according to the Mudder website.
The Oxford school district will be providing parking for Mudder participants and spectators at Lakeville Elementary, Oxford Middle School and Oxford High School. Parking will also be available in the right lanes along Wildcat Drive, the road that leads to the middle school.
According to Sam Barna, the district’s assistant superintendent of business and operations, the lots will open up to the public at 6 a.m. on Saturday. The cost to park on school property is $20 per vehicle and after expenses are covered, the proceeds will be used to benefit the district and students in various ways, Barna said.
Oxford school district students, staff and residents will be able to park for FREE as long as they show a driver’s license proving residency or a student/staff identification card, according to Barna. The schools will be operating a FREE shuttle service running between the OHS parking lots only and Wildcat Dr. on Saturday beginning at 6:30 a.m.
“We’re not going onto the property of the Tough Mudder,” Barna noted.
The school lots will be open on Sunday morning, but they won’t be staffed and there will be no charge to park. There will be no shuttle service from the OHS lots on Sunday.
Public parking is prohibited on the streets of the Lake Villa Manufactured Home Community across from the Koenig site. These streets are private property and on-street parking is already prohibited on them, even for Lake Villa residents and their guests. Violators will be towed away at the vehicle owner’s expense, according to Lake Villa Manager Edith Belen.
Increased police presence
Additional personnel from the Oxford Village Police Department and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office will be working this weekend to control the increased vehicular traffic this event is expected to generate.
Tough Mudder is paying for the extra law enforcement. The village police department is going to be paid $5,000, according to Acting Chief Mike Solwold.
Solwold said he’s going to have 10 officers (a mix of full-time, part-time and reserves) on duty each day, which is “double the amount” he “would normally have.”
He plans to have patrol units stationed at the E. Burdick St./Glaspie St./Lakeville Rd. intersection and at the Broadway St./S. Glaspie St. intersection. Another patrol unit will be dedicated to keeping an eye on the Oxford Lakes subdivision. “I know there’s probably going to be some issues there with people trying to cut through to get over to Lakeville Rd.,” Solwold said.
The acting chief is also concerned about “people trying to park anywhere and everywhere they possibly can (in Oxford Lakes) and walk down to this event.”
“We’re going to try to discourage that as much as possible,” he said. “We don’t want things to get too cluttered up in there.”
Because the streets in Oxford Lakes are public streets, the police can’t prevent people from parking in legal spots. However, if people park on the same side of the street as a fire hydrant, block driveways and mailboxes or impede traffic in any way, Solwold said his officers are prepared to issue tickets to violators.
Tough Mudder has a $5,000 budget for the sheriff’s office, but it appears the actual cost is going to be $4,373. “It could be more if there is any type of emergency, or anything that comes up unexpectedly,” wrote Lori Collier, the Oxford substation’s administrative assistant, in an email to this reporter.
The sheriff’s office is providing three full-time deputies from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and three on Sunday from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Their hourly rate is $66.26.
Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Patterson, commander of the Oxford Township substation, said in addition to full-time personnel, four to six reserve deputies will be dedicated to the event each day. “Two full-time deputies are going to be inside the venue and/or helping the reserves with traffic up at the front gate and dealing with situations that might arise there,” he said.
There’s also going to be a county unit working outside the Koenig site. It’s going to handle any potential traffic accidents and patrol off-site parking, Patterson said.