NEWRY — Sunday River Ski Resort has been keeping whetted the appetites of 3,500 athletes taking on its Tough Mountain Challenge on Saturday, July 26.
Or perhaps keeping them on edge, by posting several “top secret” photographs on the event’s Facebook page for the wildly successful, 4-mile course through 17 obstacles.
Staying dry and clean isn’t an option. More mud and a pond crossing were added to ensure this.
New obstacles this year include the Webbed Wood Run, Look Ma!, Hurdles from Hell, and the course designers’ favorite, Jersey Meets Tough Mountain — approximately two dozen 600-pound, concrete barriers strategically placed on a very muddy surface.
That will complement a few old favorites such as:
* Hurricane Alley — A sprint through a battering ram of Sunday River’s most powerful snowguns spraying “summer snow.”
* WTF — A steep, steep, steep uphill scramble.
* Barker Pond Crossing — A leap of faith pond crossing designed with balance in mind.
* Slip, Slide, and Die — Definitely not the Slip ‘N Slides of one’s youth.
Spokeswoman Darcy Morse said Thursday by email that registration is closed, having sold out in April. But course access is still available for spectators and fans who can watch the ensuing mess free of charge.
She said 3,000 racers participated in last year’s challenge, which drew nearly as many spectators.
The resort added more heats to accommodate growing demand. The first heat starts at 8 a.m. Saturday behind the South Ridge Lodge.
Participants in this year’s Tough Mountain Challenge can run as individuals or as teams of at least four people. Awards will be issued to the top three finishers in three age categories: Under 30, 30-39, and over 40.
Teams can consist of four or more competitors. Team times will be recorded as the average of all team members’ finish times, allowing members to run together or separately. Team awards will be given to each of the top three teams.
Created in 2010, the Tough Mountain Challenge was designed to take some of Sunday River’s most well-known mountain features and pit them against willing participants, she said.
“What started as a race with 200 competitors in its first year, has quickly exploded into an event that now boasts 3,500 men and women,” Morse said.
The Tough Mountain Challenge is open to people age 13 and older, but recommended for ages 18 and older. There is also a Mini Mountain Challenge for children ages 12 and younger that takes place the same day.
In addition to bragging rights, registrants take home a commemorative T-shirt and mug that they can use for a free drink at the finish, or pass in favor of the on-mountain shotgun challenge, Morse said.
The shotgun-beer station for racers ages 21 and older is considered a Tough Mountain Challenge staple.
The Tough Mountain Challenge is the centerpiece of an all-day event at the Newry ski resort that includes outdoor music, barbecues, a beer garden and a full range of activities, including chairlift rides, zip lines, hiking and lift-serviced mountain biking.