Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida's first Tough Mudder passes test

DADE CITY — For a weekend the bucolic pastures of the Little Everglades Ranch were transformed into an extreme challenge complete with military-style obstacles. The 12-mile Tough Mudder course put teammates to the test — and forged new bonds among strangers.

"My whole team flaked out around the third obstacle in, and I met up with another guy who I've never met before whose team also flaked out and ended up running it with him," said Corey Delzell, 22, of St. Petersburg. "That was one of the toughest things I've ever done but we finished. The entire course is a challenge, and by the time you get to the end you're incredibly worn out but it was awesome."

About 17,000 people from all over the country and Europe flocked to Dade City last weekend for Florida's first Tough Mudder, an extreme endurance event that has ballooned in popularity within the past year. Whether it's crawling through the mud under a ceiling of barbwire, swimming through a vat of ice water, running up a greasy half pipe or plowing through a field of live electrical wires, Tough Mudder tests the willpower and endurance of every person who signs the death waiver required to participate.

Eric Keaton, Pasco's tourism manager, helped bring Tough Mudder to Dade City and even participated in it himself on Sunday as part of Team Pasco.

"It lived up to the hype," Keaton said. "This event has a huge following … I don't know of any other event that brings together people from all walks of life to challenge them physically and mentally like this. The ranch with its natural swamp aspect provided that fear of a gator or water moccasin at times and gave it the Florida feeling that Tough Mudder was looking for. There is no triathlon out there that compares to this event."

Competing in his seventh Tough Mudder this year, Daniel Staples, 33, flew down from New Jersey to be with old friends from his days in the military.

"There aren't any mountains, so I thought it would be easy, but they find ways to mess with you and make sure that it's tough on you," Staples said. "I flew down to see these guys and do this. It's been great. I was in Beef O'Brady's last night and I had all my Tough Mudder headbands and I felt like a celebrity. People were asking me to take pictures with them just cause I've done all these Tough Mudders. I'm just a schoolteacher otherwise."

Organizers said the event was a tremendous success and created a new following in a new market.

"Our post event surveys indicate that 98 percent of people really enjoyed the event," said Ali Nicastro of Tough Mudder's community relations team. "We've rarely had such an incredible event for the first time in a new area. We had great weather, and what this course offered was really fun for us, because with the course being so flat, we had to adapt from our usual course to that."

Little Everglades Ranch proved to be a perfect venue for the event, helping to raise the profile of Dade City and Pasco County among a crowd that may not have otherwise come to town, Keaton said. Tough Mudder's schedule indicates the event will return on the first weekend of December in 2012.

"I think this does a lot for our credibility as far as what type of events we can host in Pasco and at Little Everglades Ranch in particular," Keaton said. "Everyone that we met or saw was saying how beautiful the ranch is. We met people from Europe and all different parts of the country that came here to be part of Tough Mudder Florida. All of the hotels in the eastern part of the county were booked and the weather turned out perfect so it really couldn't have gone any better than it did for the county."

Florida's first Tough Mudder passes test 12/06/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 10:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Accused cardinal denies Australia sex abuse allegations, takes leave of absence


    ROME — One of the most senior Vatican officials to be charged with sexual offenses denied on Thursday the allegations levied against him by Australian police, saying he would take a leave of absence as one of Pope Francis' chief advisers to defend himself.

    Cardinal George Pell meets the media at the Vatican on Thursday. The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney says Pell will return to Australia to fight sexual assault charges as soon as possible. [Associated Press]
  2. Tie vote blocks grant money for husband of Dade City mayor

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Taking another shot at obtaining a Community Redevelopment Agency grant to improve his downtown building, the husband of Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez was denied this week by a deadlocked board.

    Mayor Camille Hernandez recused herself but was asked to stay in the room.
  3. Lightning planning $6 million upgrade to practice facility


    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik will invest $6 million in upgrading the team's practice facility, the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

    The plan will create a brand new locker room and training facilities for the team, an 18,000 square foot addition.
  4. Deputies responding to car crash in Riverview find shooting victim inside


    RIVERVIEW — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating after deputies responding to a single-car crash late Wednesday discovered someone in the car had been shot, authorities said.

  5. Commentary: Ten years later, the iPhone owns us


    Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in January, 2007, before an adoring congregation, in his signature "Sermon on the Mount" style. On June 29, it became available to the public. Ten years later, the phone has spread like Christianity. The device represents "the pinnacle product of all capitalism," as Brian Merchant …

    Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release on June 29, 2007. [Associated Press]