NEWRY — Nearly 200 men and women maneuvered through 12 obstacles in Saturday’s debut Tough Mountain Challenge at Sunday River Ski Resort any way they could — on their heads, their bodies and their feet.

They crawled through mud and under razor-sharp barbed wire, somersaulted endlessly down a net bridge over Barker Pond or unsuccessfully tried to run, bounce and roll across it, lost their way in a blinding hurricane of snow guns shooting pressurized water and air at 400 pounds per square inch, sprinted a quarter-mile uphill, and then down into the V-shaped Trench of Terror.

Getting out of the trench meant climbing near-vertical banking using a thick rope, and then dashing into “The Black Hole,” a 30-foot culvert. The kicker was the “Flaming Ring of Death” through which they had to run or dive at the end of the nearly 2-mile course.

“I feel like I’ve been in a car wreck,” Brian Burgoyne said, moving gingerly after completing the race in 57 minutes and 49.34 seconds to clinch 108th place out of 124 entered in the men’s race.

Greg Goodhue, 45, of Sidney, won the men’s division, posting a time of 19 minutes and 52.59 seconds; Debbie Moreau, 39, of Lewiston won the women’s division with a time of 23 minutes and 33.13 seconds. Seventy-three women entered the competition.

“It was tough, but it was lots of fun,” Goodhue said after receiving the “gold” medal.

“The mud pit was pretty rough on the knees, but it was more of a gravel pit than a mud pit,” he said. “Climbing the rope out of the gully was the most difficult, and then the first snow gun in Hurricane Alley. You could not see anything.”

Goodhue said he didn’t train for the event, but he runs daily.

Moreau also said the race was fun.

“The hardest part was running on top of the netting and up the hill,” she said of the “Suicide Sprint,” a quarter-mile dash up the hill from the South Ridge Base Lodge to the base of Spruce Peak.

Moreau said she was primed for the race because she does a lot of trail running. Still, the obstacles were daunting.

“This was the first time I’ve ever done something like this with obstacles,” she said. “I run hills and trails, but there’s no real way to train for obstacles.”

“It was awesome,” marathon-runner Barbie Clement of Monmouth said. “The hardest part was crawling through the mud because there were rocks in it. My knees got pretty chewed up.”

Much to the amusement of the crowd, six UPS employees from Boston ran the course in their uniforms while carrying and trading off a 4-pound package, which they opened at the end of the race to find out what friends put inside.

“It was tough and grueling,” Jamie Dodd said, still holding the package. “But, you know, it doesn’t matter to UPS. You’ve got to deliver on time.”

“You have to forget about your physical well-being, because it’s all about the delivery,” said UPS team member Mike Randa of Sherborn, Mass.

And deliver they did: All but one teammate finished in 38 minutes.

Sunday River put the course together in a month and believed its unique race would be an instant hit with the running crowd.

“The event was a huge success, and our expectations were definitely surpassed with the 197 people that signed up,” resort spokeswoman Darcy Liberty said.

“Given the overwhelmingly positive response we received from competitors about this year’s event, you can bet that we’ll be looking into how to create an even bigger, tougher event for next summer,” she said.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.