‘Tough Mudder’ event a boon for State Fair

Travis McMullen - Contributing Columnist

Travis McMullen

Contributing Columnist


You’ve probably heard by now that on Oct. 9-11, the Missouri State Fairgrounds will be the playing field for a Tough Mudder event. The event’s website sums it up quite nicely: “Tough Mudder is a team-oriented 10-12 mile (18-20 km) obstacle course designed to test physical strength and mental grit.”

For years, the TV viewing public has enjoyed shows like “American Gladiators,” “American Ninja Challenge” and “Wipeout.” We enjoyed the schadenfreude when someone who clearly wasn’t cut out for a tricky fitness course met an obstacle they couldn’t pass and we shared in the glory when others successfully conquered the course.

Those are the sort of shows that have inspired people to establish their own traveling obstacle course extravaganza, and take it all over the country. Those unwitting victims and glorious champions on our screens used to race for individual fame and maybe even fabulous prizes, but today people pay for the privilege just to feel like they’re in a game show environment. Maybe it’s worth it to cut a check if it means that you don’t have to broadcast your potential failures on national television.

This is how big these obstacle course events have become: each year, 12 of the top teams in college football compete in six bowl games of special distinction on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. On a rotating yearly basis, two of these bowls become the “College Football Playoff” and the winners go to the National Championship Game. But the other four bowls are still widely recognized as important destinations for a successful college football team.

In 2016, the Fiesta Bowl will become one of the playoff games. In the past, it’s been sponsored by brands like Sunkist, IBM, Tostito’s and Vizio, but the most recent edition was sponsored by “Battlefrog.” I’d be willing to bet that a whole lot of people headed straight for their friendly neighborhood search engine to find out what a “Battlefrog” was upon hearing it was sponsoring a major bowl game. It’s an obstacle course series a lot like Tough Mudder, and it just so happens that it recently had a college challenge special that aired on the ESPN family of networks.

So it’s safe to assume these sort of things are at least reasonably profitable – let’s see how much it is for a ticket to the upcoming Sedalia event…

$109 for one “Event Ticket?” Really? Man, the profit margins here must be thick. I hope the good people at the Missouri State Fair Foundation are getting a good cut. Worse yet, this is a limited time price and there’s a progress bar at the bottom that tells me that it’s going to go up in 16 days. I’d hate to see the price of last-minute registration. This event ticket includes a headband, a shirt, “free photography” and “free beer.”

Oh, I think I understand now. I know there’s a certain subset of people who are always looking for new places and new experiences that feature alcohol. From movie theaters to that Taco Bell in Chicago that applied for a liquor license, there seems to be more places serving alcohol each day because that’s what the people seem to want.

But in the end it is encouraging to see a great venue like the Missouri State Fairgrounds utilized in new and exciting ways. It’s great to see a popular touring event make a stop here in Sedalia. Are you tough? Are you enthusiastic about mud? Are you into teamwork, beer and headbands? Well you’re in luck.

Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.

Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.

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