Four years ago, we finally decided to act on a permit we’d submitted to the city of San Luis Obispo years ago but didn’t follow through on, and the Mud Mash was born. When we did it, we didn’t have a really solid idea of what we were doing with it. Was it a boot-camp style event that was growing in popularity then? To me, it seemed like people looking to challenge themselves really didn’t need to be yelled at by drill sergeants, so while our marketing had a heavily-militaristic style to it, our logo became a pig giving you a thumbs up (thank goodness for cartoons being able to give pigs hands). “Happy Pig,” as we call him, has guided the evolution of this event.
“Would ‘Happy Pig’ approve?” is always a deciding factor for us when deciding what to do with the event. This year, I think Happy Pig definitely approved. In the last four years, we’ve managed to understand what we’re building and what people want. And we didn’t do it ourselves. This morning, and all of last night, my dominant emotion at the end of the event, as everyone packed up and left, leaving the venue empty and silent, was gratitude.
Equipment provided by Arsenal and SCI
Gratitude starts with every email notification that arrives in my inbox from someone thinking what we were offering was worth it, putting money in the bank. Immense gratitude when we hit the break-even point and knew that this year, though our budget for marketing was light, was not going to be a loss.
Gratitude to the community of entrepreneurs we have here in SLO that helped us promote our events through postering, emails, and sharing the event on their Facebook page.
SLO County Veteran’s Outreach
Gratitude to organizations who wanted to build a real event within the Mud Mash, like the Veterans Outreach of San Luis Obispo County and the fitness studio Gymnazo.(Who arrived in “Mud Mash Finisher” shirts!)
Immense gratitude to the businesses who donated or severely discounted supplies and equipment (and in some cases, even labor) to cut an expensive event’s cost, making it sustainable even without big cash sponsorship behind it. Companies like SCI (sending us Craig, to both dig and fill in the mud pits), Arsenal, Central Coast Brewing, Trader Joe’s, and some who wish to remain anonymous.
Gratitude to our team, most of whom we know from SLO Op Climbing, our non profit climbing gym also built on the backs of supporters, who gave us long days, never complained about being sore or given a lame job to do, worked hard during the event (even taking a reactive punch from a guy recovering from getting taken out at the Pugil Pit finish gauntlet), and kept on going to take it all down. (Taking it down’s the worst – the glamour is gone.)
Gratitude to the land managers of the areas we took over for maintaining a good working relationship with us year over year and trusting us to take it to another level without damaging their property or opening them up to negative publicity.
Gratitude to people who set up booths, both making the venue more interesting and highlighting the relationship of our business to theirs, and making me feel really good about being able to help connect our community in so many ways.
Gratitude that SLO County Search and Rescue was there (they ended up being instrumental in helping an unrelated and potentially major injury that occurred outside of our event) and gratitude that we had good medical coverage on course, both thanks to SAR, to SLO Ambulance, and to our staff’s quick and knowledgeable reactions to situations.
Gratitude to the legions of volunteers who maintained great energy, controlled their end of the course well, and contributed so much to the success of the event. Gratitude, also, to participants who saw needs when they arose and thought nothing of diving into the need and taking care of it.
Craig from SCI, building the mud pit.
Most of our events are based on tourism dollars – getting people to come in from other areas. This event, after making attempts to do that, is not about that any longer. There are big-name obstacle races out there that people will travel to thanks to their national scope, and it’s hard to compete with that as a single event. It’s our hope that the event will grow because of word of mouth that our event is something special, but today, I’m just so grateful to the community that came together to make this an event to remember.
Come what may, if you were a part of it as a volunteer, participant, vendor, sponsor, participant, or anything else I might inadvertently be forgetting about, thank you; thank you so much.