Updated 10:25 p.m.
Interstate 75 experienced delays as far as 5 miles on I-75 South from the Clark Road exit due to today's Tough Mudder race, and several hourlong delays will return on Sunday.
The marathon race is taking place Saturday and Sunday at Hi Hat Ranch on State Route 72 (Clark Road). Delays could be possible again Sunday.
Drivers can expect traffic backups between 6-10 a.m. Sunday morning, and again from 3-7 p.m. Sunday evening, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office. Sarasota County Emergency Services officials recommend that travelers avoid the area through the weekend.
The Tough Mudder races have a reputation for attracting huge crowds and causing severe traffic delays. One Tough Mudder race in Frederick, Md., on Sept. 9 had traffic delays so severe, police and officials there forced a cancellation of the event, The Herald-Mail reports.
That traffic mess and logistical nightmare forced Frederick city officials to review its laws on powers on making sure that private for-profit events ensure proper traffic routing in addition to adequate parking and other permits, The Washington Post reported.
People participating and watching in both the Sarasota and Frederick events complained about waiting in traffic for hours.
Sarasota Patch Facebook fans sounded off about the delays.
It took "nearly two hours to get from Publix at Cattlemen and Bee Ridge to Myakka Valley Ranches," Valerie Clark said. "Unacceptable. Find another place to hold the event where the only access isn't a two lane road. All of the neighborhoods out here are literally being held hostage by this event."
Michael Weatherby said he was stuck in traffic for 2.5 hours; Andrew Hill was stuck at Fruitville Road and took 30 to 35 minutes to get off at the Bee Ridge Road exit.
Richard Scire said his friends sat in traffic for four hours and missed the event.
Florida Highway Patrol has not discussed cancellation of the Sarasota event, said Lt. Conner Cardwell.
"Traffic is now flowing on the interstate so I do not foresee the event being canceled for that reason tomorrow," Cardwell told Patch Saturday afternoon before delays predictably resumed later that afternoon when the event ended.
Later Saturday afternoon, FHP issued a follow-up outlining an alternate route.
Spectators and Participants Should Take This Route:
- I-75 South to State Route 70 in Manatee County
- Follow SR 70 East to Sugar Bowl Road
- Turn South on Sugar Bowl Road
- Follow to SR 72 (Clark Road) and turn west (right)
Florida Department of Transportation is working on putting up notices and signs to direct Tough Mudder traffic to use this route, according to the sheriff's office.