Gunstock negotiating for 2014 return of Tough Mudder competition

GILFORD — It looks like Tough Mudder will be returning to Gunstock Mountain Resort next year but likely in September rather than in June.

Gunstock Mountain Resort General Manager Greg Goddard told selectmen last night that he is in negotiations with the organization that bills itself as one of the toughest endurance and obstacle contests known.

"We fully expect a much smoother road (next year)," Goddard said, referring during a briefing to what he called "confusion" surrounding this past year's contest.

Nearly 12,000 people participated in the June 1-2, 2013 event at the first Tough Mudder at Gunstock that occurred during one of the most punishing New England heat waves recorded that early in the season.

The "confusion" stemmed from more participants needing more emergency services from the Gilford Fire Department and Lakes Region General Hospital than was expected, although Tough Mudder provided most of its own medical care and emergency services.

Another sources of confusion, said Gunstock Commission Chair John Morgenstern shortly after the contest, was that all event parking was at the N.H. Motor Speedway in Loudon with Tough Mudder providing all of the transportation for the participants — many of whom were unaware of the distance between the two venues.

Goddard said last night that Tough Mudder, the management of the speedway, and Gunstock are working on not only a proposal for a 2014 contest but the possibility of a two-weekend contest in 2015.

He said the biggest issue the negotiations face is the schedule at the speedway in Loudon but he said he's fairly confident the agencies can come to some kind of agreement in time for next year.

Goddard said they are up to 32 Tough Mudder events held annually, with Gunstock being one of two venues in New England.

In other Gunstock news, Goddard said they are rebuilding the festival field and making a terrian-based learning area. He said the new field will give them a better physical space for large events such as the annual summer Soul Fest.

Other summer improvements include a complete over haul of "loop road" or the road that goes around the main parking lot, something he said would make a lot of people very happy, especially in the spring.

Soul Fest, said Goddard, will be shorten by one day next year and will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday as opposed to being a four-day event.

He said participation this past year was down about 10 percent from previous years, noting Soul Fest organizers think this is because many people can't spend the entire four days in the area and don't want to pay only to miss one full day.

He also said the event would be moving from the first week in August to the second week in August.

Despite a lower turnout this past year, Goddard said Gunstock had a level revenue stream because the resort makes much of its money in chair-lift rides, retail concessions, and camping.

Down the road, he said Gunstock will host a new event called the Ragnar Trail Race Series that he said is a relay that is only trail running along a set route.

He also said Area Road is near completion and almost ready for the town to accept as a town road. Running from the old Alpine Ridge Ski Area to Cherry Valley Road, Area Road has 11 homes and 14 lots and for years was the primary egress from the resort.