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This is an article posted Wednesday, October 3rd in Jackson’s Weekly paper, The Planet, about Grand Dynamics upcoming obstacle race, the Tough Towner.

The Buzz: Jackson’s first adventure race
Wednesday, October 03, 2012

By Richard Abowitz
Jackson Hole, Wyo.-If you enter “adventure races” on YouTube you can find hundreds of videos of intense athletic folks pushing themselves through manmade obstacles. And, then you can find other videos of people who are just having fun working their way through the course. The First Annual Tough Towner Ultimate Community Obstacle Course created by Grand Dynamics hopes to attract both.

Grand Dynamics CEO Tim Walther says, “Everybody can give this a go. The idea is to challenge yourself and to have some fun. There are race classes for those that want to go fast and push it, and there is also a fun class, where people can still push it but you might just be racing along side an elephant.” The elephant part needs some explaining.

First off Toughy (the elephant’s name, of course) wears a pink tutu and is the mascot for the event. According to Walther, “Toughy represents all potential Tough Towners.” Okay, but why an elephant? “There are many meanings behind the elephant, including representing our emotional side of change and what brings us passion in life. Toughy also represents having fun.”

In terms of Tough Towner race fun is suggested by the calendar: October 20 being not too long before Halloween. “We expect to have several costume-themed teams in the fun class of the event,” Walther says. Individuals are invited to come costumed as well. And, in addition to your own costume you may want to offer an idea for a local symbol worthy of the experience for next year. Walther says: “We are actually open to the idea of an iconic Jackson Hole figure for the Jackson Hole Tough Towner, but that has yet to present itself, and this is the first ever Tough Towner.”

Walther offers a sketch of the race for those considering the challenge:

“It starts at Phil Baux park at Snow King. We’ll do an opening. The first part of the race is a mountain scramble up a portion of Snow King. Then participants travel to the Rodeo Grounds. There is an element there. Then we go to Miller park. From there we go to the Recreation Center Field. Then to Mike Yokel and back to Phil Baux park for the finish.”

Some may choose to bicycle instead of run between the parks. Altogether the race loop spans about four miles. Of course, the imagination will reconfigure the geography with obstacles. “We’ve created these different challenges and obstacles: climbing over walls, crawling through mud, and running through tires,” Walther says.

The racers will go in two groups: fast class and fun class. This allows the serious athletes to participate before the more casual adventurers. Walther explains, “The Fast Class will go first in the morning. And, the Fun Class will go a couple of hours later. The idea is to offer the challenge to a variety of different people in the community. So, it is not just for the Jackson elite athlete but for anyone who wants to challenge themselves. You can go fast; you can go slowly; you can do it individually; you can do it as a team. And, we are encouraging costumes and fun.”

It is not easy to start a new event in hopes of creating an annual tradition. And, Walther notes Grand Dynamics is a local business – for the past 14 years – that sees this effort as an important contribution to Jackson. “Grand Dynamics puts on a lot of corporate events: different adventure races.

I wanted to bring this to the community and have it available to the community and not just specific businesses,” Walther explains. Indeed, life in Jackson inspired everything about this Tough Towner race. “I live in the central hub of all four of the parks in East Jackson,” Walther says. “And, I spend a lot of time hiking up Snow King. I would hike up Snow King, looking down at the parks and think that there has to be a cool event we can create.

Then I started thinking: what are the resources in the town? One thing came from the next.”

Of course, the gap between having and executing an idea in Jackson often involves a different sort of obstacle course: bureaucratic permissions. But Walther happily reports that has not been a problem for Tough Towner, which was embraced by the town. “Immediately the Parks and Rec Department got on board,” Walther says. This year the event benefits the Jackson Hole Community School.

It is worth stressing that the race is meant to appeal not only to Jackson as a whole but also to encourage groups to further bond or even to form within the community. Walther says, “This is a great team building event for businesses to engage their employees and bring people together through fun adventure.”
Excited to bring this to town, Walther concludes, “That combination of challenge and fun is the right one for Jackson Hole.”

Saturday, October 20, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is $39 until October 5; $49 after. For more information on how to participate, volunteer, sponsor or to register:

Toughy in training for the Tough Towner in Jackson.

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