RIDGWAY – The weather was sunny, the mud was squashy, and the Ouray County Fairgrounds were heaving with 4x4 action and all manner of muddy family fun last weekend at the second annual Ouray County Mud Fest. Numbers of attendees were up significantly from the previous year, and overall, the event was deemed a downright dirty success.
“It was fantastic,” said Ouray Chamber Resort Association Board of Directors member Brandy Ross who was a key member of the Mud Fest organizing committee. “The weather couldn’t have been better, competitors had a great time, a large number of highly modified vehicles for the obstacle course and off-road companies were represented, and there was plenty of friendly competition.”
According to Ross, participation in 4x4 competitions was up significantly over last year, with about 80 registered competitors in all. Contests included Stock, Modified Stock, Modified and Unlimited on the 4x4 Obstacle Course. Awards were given to first, second and third places in each class comprised of at least five competitors.
In the Stock Competition, first place was awarded to Ouray resident Chad Rilling, second place to Richard Weber of Ridgway and third place to Mark Teaman. Ouray local Bruce Gulde took third place in the Modified Stock Class, while Brian Kille, BJ Kuboske and Craig Ross placed first through third respectively in the popular and exciting Unlimited Class.
The Mud Races included Stock, Pro-Stock, Super Stock, Modified and Pro-Modified. Awards were presented to Jeremiah Wilson in first for Stock and second in Super Stock. Joe Avila took second in Stock, with Steve Ross coming in a close third. John Konakis of Grand Junction placed first in both Pro-Stock and Super Stock, with Travis Buck coming in third for Super Stock. Modified competitors included Roger Scott from Utah placing first, and Troy Frigetto in second.
Scott conceded first by less than one second to Rusty Catlin in the Pro-Modified class for a crowd-pleasing show of horsepower and speed.
Chad Rilling, Bob Ross and Chris Miller designed the course, which got rave reviews from competitors.
One professional mud racer and promoter from Utah had particularly high praise for the family-friendly nature of the Ouray County Mud Fest.
“He said that of all the races he participated in, this is the only one that is family friendly, and that will always set us apart,” Ross said. “He loved that he can bring his kids.”
New to the Mud Fest this year was a 4X4 Sled Pull Competition sponsored by Alpine Offroad & Performance. Ross said this new category of event fit right in with all the other Mud Fest activities. “The truck pull was fantastic,” she said. “The audience for all of the events is very similar; if you love truck pulls you probably will love mud races and 4x4 obstacle courses. Competitors loved being able to compete in three different classifications all at the same event. It defined us as a unique event setting.”
About 25 truckers showed up to compete in the event – many of them driving their big rigs over from Denver. “One competitor said that our track was best they’d ever pulled on,” Ross said. “That kind of comment and opinion will spread. The president of the National Sled Pulling Association was there and came to watch. He was pretty impressed as well.”
But most importantly, Ross said, “There were lots of smiles on people’s faces; competitors were smiling and for me that’s what counts.”
4x4 enthusiasts came from across Colorado and as far away as Utah for a chance to compete in the abundance of glorious Ouray County mud. Some of them brought highly modified Rockworx “buggies” worth up to $100,000. “To have them show up was a huge credit to that course,” Ross said. “I got to ride in one; it was the highlight of my weekend.”
Another highlight for Ross came on Sunday afternoon after the official 4x4 competitions had concluded. “We opened up the course and let competitors do grudge matches,” she said. “I heard more hooting and hollering watching people play than even in the competitions. It (the whole weekend) was so worth it – not only to bring business to Ouray County but to give people something to be happy about.”
OCRA Board President Tamara Gulde said the highlight of the weekend for her – other than driving her Jeep on the obstacle course and besting her husband's time by 13 seconds – was the Warrior Promotions motocross expo.
Gulde estimated a total turnout of about 2,500 attendees at this year’s Mud Fest, including participants, onlookers and volunteers. Last year’s inaugural Mud Fest, which lasted just one day, attracted 1,400 folks. “So that’s growth,” Gulde said. “We were prepared for 5,000 attendees if we had to; we didn’t expect it but we knew we could handle that many. We are somewhere in the middle. We are pleased.”
Gulde, too, reported “incredible compliments” for how the event was laid out and organized. “It was seamless,” she said. “That was the exact word that was used. All in all, we are pretty proud of ourselves. And, we are humble. What we learned this year, we will apply next year.”
Oh yes, there will be a next year.
MUD FEST 5K
The inaugural Mud Fest 5K held last Sunday morning was a huge success, attracting 64 runners ranging in age from 7 to 61 who were brave enough to take on a course that ended with a 20-foot-long mud pit they had to slog their way across.
“Fun time had by all!” declared race director John Ferguson.
Prizes went to the top five male and female finishers.
- Allison Gelvin, Age 33, Time 24:10
- Chrystal Dean, Age 30, Time 24:19
- Jamie Nixon, Age 36, Time 24:50
- Inga Johansson, Age 27, Time 27:05
- Emily Sanchez, Age 32, Time 27:15
- Micah Smith, Age 16, Time 19:25
- Terry Daley, Age 52, Time 19:25
- Jeff Rivera, Age 47, Time 21:25
- Chris Jackson, Age 29, Time 21:34
- Andy Mueller, Age 44, Time 21:48
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