Episode 74

Published on:

4th Apr 2023

Tough Mudder Takes on Washington County with Event Producer Rachel Poock

This week on "Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz," we're diving into obstacle course racing. Tough Mudder is coming to Heritage Trails County Park in Slinger (technically, the town of Polk) on May 13 and 14, 2023. Join us as we chat with Rachel Poock, the event producer behind the event as it makes its way here to Washington County, Wisconsin.

In this episode, Rachel shares her experience and what it takes to bring an event like Tough Mudder to life, from the planning and organization to the partnerships and collaborations that make it possible. We'll learn about the history of Tough Mudder, what makes it unique compared to other obstacle course races, and what participants and spectators can expect from this year's event at Heritage Trails County Park.

Find out how this popular worldwide event caters to people of all fitness levels and backgrounds and the positive impact it can have on our community. So who's ready to hit the mud and take on Wisconsin's Tough Mudder event!

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Fuzz Martin 0:00

Hiya, friends I'm Fuzz Martin and you've stumbled upon, or have deliberately chosen to tune into my show Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. And I'm so grateful for that. Thank you for making time for me today. I hope you had a great weekend in case you missed it. I see why am I if you're in the acronyms, I launched in April Fool's edition of the morning buds with Fuzz on Saturday. It was a lot of fun making the show and I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven't listened yet, it was based around my old radio show. We had the news with Bob door. Shanna join me and played named that ringtone Blake Elliott, one of Mike Elliott sons joined me to talk about his dad and some of his memories of Mikey's time and radio. And I had a lot of fun getting into some high jinks with Steve Kearns. It was just like old times, you can listen to that episode at fifteenwithfuzz.com. It took a lot of work to produce, so there likely won't be any more of those anytime soon, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. And I hope you do too. Tough. Mudder is a fun intense obstacle course race that takes place in a bunch of different locations throughout the world each year. And this year. It's coming to Washington County, specifically to heritage trails county park in the town of Polk near Slinger. Rachel Poock is an event producer for Tough Mudder and she joins me to talk about Tough Mudder why they chose Washington County what it takes to get prepped and what to expect at this year's race. With that, here are 15 minutes on Tough Mudder with Rachel Poock on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

Fuzz Martin 1:54

Rachel, thank you for joining me, I'm going to start at a very high level. But for those unfamiliar with Tough Mudder Could you please give us a history of the event, what it is, and what makes it unique compared to other obstacle course races?

Rachel Poock 2:10

Absolutely. Tough. Mudder is an obstacle course race that kind of prides itself on the challenge that the obstacles bring to the participants, both mentally and physically, as well as getting them dirty along the way. We really focus on a teamwork aspect of our obstacles. So everything's encouraged to you know, work together as a team to get through the obstacles, which I think really separates us from the other obstacle races you see out there.

Fuzz Martin 2:35

So you're an event producer with Tough Mudder. What is your role entail? What do you do on a day to day basis?

Rachel Poock 2:40

I oversee the planning and the execution of the event with our crew on the ground that are are doing that. And specifically I work with the venue's the cities and the local stakeholders to kind of make all the background pieces get in place. So the guys on the ground can build it without a problem.

Fuzz Martin 2:55

How many of these do you do each year? Every year

Rachel Poock 2:58

I do about 10 to 12. We have around 25 events each year across the board and we split those up into teams that kind of divide and conquer them but are doing 10 to 12 each year.

Fuzz Martin 3:10


Rachel Poock 3:27

It's been a while since we've been in Wisconsin, and it's a great market for us. We love going out getting out to Wisconsin, one thing that we were looking for is to get closer to the Milwaukee area. Before we were much more further north. So we're excited to get closer to the city, as well as Washington County has invited us into their their county with open arms and just been absolutely awesome to work with. And Heritage Trails Park specifically is just a perfect venue for an event like Tough Mudder it's got the hills, the trails, all of that that creates a fun course as well as areas to you know, build awesome obstacles.

Fuzz Martin 4:04

How long is a typical Tough Mudder? How many? How far is the distance?

Rachel Poock 4:09

Yeah, so we cater to kind of a wide variety of distances. So at Heritage Trails Park we'll be running a 10k kilometer run and then a five kilometer run. So you can kind of choose your challenge and based on how long you want to run, the 10k will have more obstacles on it. It's about 20 obstacles, while the 5k has about 13 obstacles

Fuzz Martin 4:30

and in those kinds of obstacles and things that the participants and spectators are going to experience on May 13 and 14th. What kind of things can they expect this year?

Rachel Poock 4:41

Right, they can expect to get pushed out of their comfort zone for sure from climbing a 30 foot tall giant cargo net a frame to Army crawling through the mud under barbed wire swinging over mud pits and water pits are a funky monkey. So a little bit of everything to test their, their strength or agility, as well as how brave they are.

Fuzz Martin 5:05

Perfect. So Tough Mudder has been going on for a number of years, how has the event evolved over the years? Are there any, like real new obstacles or any any features like that this year?

Rachel Poock 5:15

Yeah, every year, we kind of go back to the drawing board and look at how we can innovate and create new experiences, whether that be a whole new obstacle, or just taking an obstacle and putting a new spin on it. I think you'll see a lot of that over at Heritage Trials this year, taking something and tweaking it just a little bit. So it's different and new and exciting.

Fuzz Martin 5:35

Great. Can you give us some insight? I know it takes a lot to plan this and to organize it and to get the course ready. What are some of the biggest challenges that you face in that process?

Rachel Poock 5:45

So we start planning months ahead of time we team came out in November just to get a lay of the land we with the county in the city, as well as understand the property itself. So we did initial planning back in November and have been working with the county and creating designs since then, the team that builds the event comes out two weeks ahead of time. So we are on the ground, building it from scratch, we have trailers that come in and hold all of our equipment. And then we set it all up from marking the course to build in the obstacles to creating our festival area that has the music, the food, all that fun, fun aspect of our event. And it takes about a week and a half to build and about half of half a week to tear down and then we put it on the trucks and take it to the next spot. The biggest challenges though are, especially for a venue that we've never been at before are the unknowns. No matter what we go into, you know, there's always going to be something that comes up. So we try and plan and plan and plan but there's always something that you don't know. And as with any outdoor event or you know anything outside, the weather is always a challenge. Sometimes you get a beautiful week. And it's nice and smooth. But sometimes you get rain all week and things like that, that just make it a little more difficult to set up.

Fuzz Martin 7:01

Great. Well, I know that I know, there's a lot that goes in, and we're looking forward to seeing how heritage trails transforms here for Tough Mudder. Now, does the event this Tough Mudder cater to different of people, people of different fitness levels and backgrounds. Are there any specific categories or modifications for participants?

Rachel Poock 7:21

Yeah, absolutely. So we do offer different distances. So they can choose between a 10k longer format or the 5k. As well as the how many obstacles are doing, every obstacle is optional. So there's either an easier option to do or if it's something that's beyond someone's, you know, ability there are free to skip it or, you know, go past it, maybe come back to it later. So it's not a timed race, it's at your leisure, some people walk some people run. So it's completely on your own. And you get to kind of choose how hard you take it.

Fuzz Martin 7:56

Great. So as an event producer for Tough Mudder? What is your favorite aspect of the experience? And what do you think sets it apart from some of the other events that you've been involved with?

Rachel Poock 8:06

I love just seeing everything come to life. As I said, we come out months ahead of time and you see the blank slate, and then you're able to see it progress into the event that it is. And I think it's super different from other events, just because every time we set it up, it's different. It never looks the same. Whether that be the course we're running, the obstacles that we're putting out, the festival changing, there's always something different. So it's never the exact same thing, no matter how many times you go to a Tough Mudder.

Fuzz Martin 8:34

Can you tell us about some of the local partnerships and collaborations that have contributed to making this possible here in Washington County, I know, like you said, a lot goes into it. And there's a lot of planning involved. So who's all involved locally,

Rachel Poock 8:47

we've been working with Washington County Parks quite a bit. And they've just been a huge resource, and a huge help to, on getting us out there. And then assisting along the planning process for this event. So we're working very closely with them. And it's been great. We've also been working with the Slinger School District, they're assisting with giving us extra our parking facility. So we'll be parking at Slinger school, high school, and they've been wonderful as well. And then of course, working with the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial as you take on our beer operations and help in that capacity. So I think that's one of the other great things about Tough Mudder is that we fully engage with the community and like to work with the local community and partnerships and businesses.

Fuzz Martin 9:29

That's perfect. It's great. And yes, as a member of the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial, we appreciate you including us as the nonprofit running that portion of that and it'll go a long way to help support our mission there. In addition to that, what other economic and community impact doesn't events like Tough Mudder have on surrounding communities.

Rachel Poock 9:51

This brings out people from all over the Midwest from the Chicago area from anywhere around so people are coming in and they're staying for the weekend. They're they're staying out local hotels are eating out local restaurants, and getting a chance to enjoy what the Slinger and Washington counties has to offer outside of restaurants and other activities that are going on. So they they really come in for the full weekend and hang out.

Fuzz Martin:

What do you think makes Tough Mudder so popular? And why is it a successful event worldwide? What would you hope participants will take away from their experience,

Rachel Poock:

I think it's something so different because it just pushes you both mentally and physically it it test your limits how far you will go on something, and allows for that teamwork aspect, which is I think, a very unique aspect where, where you're working with a team, you're making friends with someone on the on the course that you've never met before, but they're they're pushing you over a wall, they're encouraging you to get through that, that piece that someone's struggling with. So it really brings people together, both friends that you come with and friends that you make on the course and I think it's really unique and people come out feeling just gratified and accomplish as they come through that finish line.

Fuzz Martin:

Alright, lastly, where can our listeners find out more information about Tough Mudder? And specifically the event at Heritage trails county park here in Washington County? And then also Is there still room for people to sign up?

Rachel Poock:

Absolutely. If you go to tough mudder.com and find the Wisconsin event, you can find out more information about that specific event, as well as sign up right there online. And there's more room now if you're not sure we also do on site sales so you can come day off if you make a quick decision and sign up right there on the spot.

Fuzz Martin:

Perfect. So I assume that you i Are you out on the road right now at another tough mudder event.

Rachel Poock:

I am we just finished our la event out in San Bernardino. So we're we're wrapping up now we had a great successful weekend. So this crew is actually going to be the crew that's out in Wisconsin, so we're all looking forward to it.

Fuzz Martin:

Perfect. Well, we will welcome you with open arms here to Wisconsin. Rachel, thank you for coming on 15 minutes with fuzz and we look forward to Tough Mudder at Heritage trails county park in Washington County over in the town of Polk in over by Slinger on May 13 and 14th. Rachel, thanks again.

Rachel Poock:

Fantastic. Thank you.

Fuzz Martin:

Thank you again to Rachel Poock event producer with Tough Mudder. Again, the race comes to Heritage Trails County Park in the Town of Polk right next to Slinger on Saturday and Sunday May 13 and 14th 2023. In case you're listening to this in the future, you can sign up for the event at toughmudder.com Search the Wisconsin event when you get there, and you will find it. We also need some volunteers to help serve beer to benefit the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial and Education Center. If you're interested in volunteering, please email me fifteenwithfuzz@gmail.com. That's fifteen spelled out with fuzz at gmail.com. Please do so this week. That's also my email address to us if you ever have any requests for guests for me to interview on this show. Also, that's where Sherry from Slinger and Carla from Kewaskum. And no, those aren't made up names even though they do alliterate. That's where they emailed me and asked me for Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz stickers. If you'd like one, you could do the same again. Email me fifteenwithfuzz@gmail.com and then tell me where to send those stickers and again fifteen is spelled out. That's all for today's show. New episodes come out on Tuesday mornings, hit the Follow button in your podcast player and I'll talk to you next time. Right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

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About the Podcast

Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz
Showcasing the positive things happening in Washington County, Wisconsin.
Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz is sheds light on all the great things going on in and around Washington County, Wisconsin. The host, Fuzz Martin, is a local business owner (EPIC Creative) and a former radio personality (92.5 WBWI - now Buzz Country). New episodes launch on Tuesday mornings. https://fifteenwithfuzz.com

Whether you're in West Bend, Kewaskum, Slinger, Hartford, Germantown, Richfield, Jackson, or anywhere else in the area, 15 Minutes with Fuzz serves the community with fun and positive people, places, events, and attractions.

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Fuzz Martin

Fuzz Martin is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at EPIC Creative in West Bend, Wis.