NEWRY — When it was over, the mud was caked on my legs up to my knees and on my arms up to my elbows. This is not a typical condition for anybody who regularly runs 5K races.

But Saturday, to humor Sunday River’s marketing chief and also because I’m always up for a good challenge, I subjected myself to the resort’s Tough Mountain Challenge.

The taunt was that another big daily newspaper in Maine was going to have a runner there and we didn’t want to be unrepresented. So there I was.

Not quite 5 kilometers in distance, the course included a few obstacles sprinkled here and there along the half-uphill course that began and ended at the South Ridge Base Lodge.

Fifty yards into the race and the blasting water from some of the resort’s high-air-pressure snow-making guns had made the visibility in the first obstacle just about zero. The swim goggles I had so cleverly thought to wear were of zero use, and as runners jockeyed for position I felt myself pushing on other runners’ shoulders and people pushing on me as we all tried to maintain our upright stance.

Fortunately, that only lasted for a while, but afterward, with fully soaked T-shirts and running shoes we faced nothing but up on a dirt work road. One down and 11 obstacles to go, I said to myself. But soon the searing in my lungs from the uphill jog forced me and several of my nearby compatriots to slow to a fast walk and then just a plain old air-sucking walk.

So this was how it was going to go? Boy, we’re having fun now.

One competitor catching me and inching forward said as he went by, “I thought this was a downhill ski area.” I hear ya, brother.

After climbing over several obstacles that snowboard riders and trick skiers use in the winter to jump off or slide along and continuing the run/fast walk uphill, we were treated not necessarily in sequence to a climb into and then out of a deep trench, a hike up a flowing stream bed and a semi-hunched-over walk/crawl through a very large PVC culvert, with a stream running through it.

The funnest part of the whole endeavor for me was the so-called “Slip and Slide and Die” — a spin on the backyard Slip-n-Slide but longer and with less of a lawn under it. Several runners ahead of me tried to butt-slide down but only went a few feet and then one brave runner launched Superman style, head first and belly down like an otter. Swooosh. Down he went. That looked like fun, so I tried it. And it actually worked. To my surprise, I passed two people on the way down.

The grueling end to this race featured a cargo net strung over a pond that you had to run, walk and basically crawl on. Doesn’t sound all that difficult, but with others around you bouncing the thing, you were up, then down, and then up. Add to it the weight of the competitors, which brought the net into the pond, at places about knee-deep.

The next treat was a mud trench with a barbed-wired net strung over the top, just high enough so it forced you to crawl. I lacked the energy at this point to do it like a bear on my feet and hands and had to resort to crawling baby-style on my hands and knees. The worst part was that the sweat dripping into my eyes couldn’t be wiped away with my hands. Alas, that would wait.

The final stretch was down a dirt road through a tightly knitted garden of ski-racing gates, over several large hurdles and a leap that resembled a rather gimpy trot through a half-hoop of flames to the finish.

My knees were bloody, my legs and arms were muddy, but I had achieved my minor goal of not injuring myself before the upcoming ski season. You have to have a goal. I also was pleasantly surprised by my time. My colleague, Sun Journal staff writer Dirk Langeveld, had finished the course a half-second or so sooner than I. His prize: He bought me a chilly but oh-so-tasty Octoberfest beer.

Some runners were amping up pre-race on Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” but by the end of it I was more inclined to sing a line from “A Boy Named Sue.”

You know, the part about the mud and the blood and the beer.

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