By Jonathan Madrigal
This is Part 1 in a two-part series. Today, MuckFest’s Event Production Manager, Jonathan Madrigal, explains our newest MuckFest obstacle and the process that went into creating it. Next week, we’ll share how we unveiled this new obstacle to our participants, and how we included them in the naming process.
The first thing to ask when you want to add a new obstacle is “what obstacle are we taking away?” For us, when we determined the obstacles for the 2019 MuckFest Series, the obstacle we decided to remove was the one we lovingly call “Skid Mark,” a mucky pit that participants pulled themselves through on their backs with a rope. It had its run and brought us lots of laughs, but Skid Mark was now ready to enjoy retirement at our warehouse in sunny California.
The reason we first decide which obstacle to remove is because it helps us determine how much room we will have on our trailers for something new. Skid Mark takes up a relatively small amount of space, so we knew we had to get very creative with what we were going to design to fit in that space. Thinking about the limited space we had to work with, we tossed around ideas of what we wanted in a new obstacle. Obviously, it had to be fun, we wanted it to be wet, it had to be quick to set up and take down, and of course it had to be outrageous enough to be worthy of being on the MuckFest circuit.
Over the years we’ve retired several great obstacles and some of them we’ve even considered bringing back. We retired Dragon Crawl back in 2014 for a myriad of reasons but it was always one that was really enjoyed. As we brainstormed ideas for a new obstacle someone suggested a spinning log type obstacle and we remembered Dragon Crawl. A revival was instantly in the works as we addressed the reasons for its retirement and ideas for how we could improve it. How would the logs spin? What would the logs be made of? How will they float? Will they last? What are the dimensions of the pit and how big of a tarp will we need to get? Do we have room to fit it all? We put down all of our questions and got to work.
After several weeks of brainstorming and research we finally settled on a design plan that could handle the punishment of thousands of Muckers, while also fitting on the trailers comfortably. Heavy duty drainage pipes outfitted with custom-made end caps attached to swivels to keep them freely spinning, and a series of vinyl coated steel cables and ratchet straps and stakes to keep it all secured in place. Combine that with around 16,000 gallons of water in a 4-foot pit and we had everything we needed to create another memorable MuckFest obstacle. But how do we test it?
We couldn’t dig up an area large enough at our warehouse for testing, so we opted to have everything delivered to Boston to build and test on site before our first event of the season. It was Friday afternoon, May 10, I was standing outside our RV in the boneyard, and our operations guy Nick came cruising in with four large black tubes hanging out of his pickup truck and a large proud smile on his face. Before I knew it, he had one unloaded and started putting together the cables we needed to get them all set up. We got the tarp in the pit and filled it with water. The moment of truth was coming. Would the tubes float? Yep! They sure did! What a relief that was. We did a few staff test runs and called it good.
Event day is always a day filled with challenges. Luckily for us our new obstacle fared well and thanks to the help of some attentive and capable volunteers, we made it through the day. People really had fun going over the tubes, hopping and flopping though the muck. I’m pretty sure there were more laughs had there than anywhere else on the course. Observing an obstacle while it’s “live” provides so much information on how it’s used and how to make it better next time. During the Boston event we learned the tubes we used had very tiny drainage holes running the length of the ribbing. These holes took on water and caused several of the tubes to sink. So, you can bet we filled those holes before the next event in Philadelphia. We’re always looking at ways to make the event better. Whether it’s by inventing a new obstacle or improving an existing obstacle, there’s always something new happening on MuckFest.
About Event 360
Whatever the purpose of your event — to raise funds, build awareness or strengthen your community of supporters — we’re your partner from start to finish in creating a smart event that gets you to your goal. Interested in creating a new obstacle for your event? Contact us here. We’d love to help!