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Obstacle Course Racing Fever Hits Northeast Resorts

Sunday River Tough Mountain Challenge

Adventure obstacle course racing has found a fitting venue at ski areas across the Northeast this summer and fall. A resort’s natural terrain and unique features have made for an increasingly popular sport for veteran obstacle course racers and beginners alike.


Loon Mountain Resort in New Hampshire will host the 4th Annual Monster Mud Run July 12, a 5k course with more than 20 obstacles. Along the way, racers will drag snowmaking hoses through mud, crawl beneath barbed wire, and climb over chair lifts on the ground.


The designers of this year’s race have spent considerable time crafting new challenges and refining favorite obstacles from past races. “We’ve used our creativity to use what we have on hand,” Loon’s Greg Kwasnik told SnoCountry.com. Along the course, competitors will negotiate obstacles with names like Snowmaking Boot Camp, Sadistic Slalom, Plunge of Paul Bunyan, and Bear Claw Forest. This year’s race will also feature a free Mini Monsters race for kids, featuring pint-sized obstacles for children under 14. 


Up the road at Bretton Woods, the 2nd Annual Bretton Woodstock Mountain Festival, July 19-20, will offer downhill and cross-country mountain bike races and the Recycled 5k Adventure Race. Prizes will be awarded to the top finishers of each event and for the "All-Mountain Enduro" for those who compete in all three events. 


“The ‘Recycled 5k’ gets its name from the fact that we will using materials we have around the ski area to create obstacles for the race,” Bretton Woods’ Freestyle Terrain Supervisor, Brad Shedd, told Snocountry.com.  


“Rather than appealing to professional racers, we are offering a friendly event where people can get dirty and wet and have a good time. The three-event enduro combines different racers’ areas of expertise and will challenge them to perhaps try something new.”


Like the event at Loon, Bretton Woodstock will offer live music, a kids’ race, and demos and vendors for both racers and spectators.


Maine’s Sunday River will host 3,500 participants in the Tough Mountain Challenge on July 26.  Registration for this year's event is currently closed, having sold out in April, but course access will still be available for spectators and fans to watch the event free of charge. “The fact that we’ve sold out is a testament to the race’s popularity,” Sunday River’s Darcy Morse told us.  


“There’s a wide range of participants,” said Morse. “There’s a gym group that follows the racing circuit, and we see a lot of military special forces racers. The race also appeals to the off-the-couch enthusiast who wants a new challenge.”


Created in 2010, the Tough Mountain Challenge was designed to take some of Sunday River's most well-known mountain features and pin them against racers. What started as a race featuring 200 racers its first year has quickly exploded into an event that boasts 3,500 men and women.   


For this year's event, competitors can expect a course between three and four miles long with up to five new obstacles. The entire course will feature upwards of 15 obstacles.


Sunday River also accommodates the entourage that comes with the racer. The Mini Mountain Challenge for kids has proved as popular as the adult race, and some families have traveled to Sunday River exclusively to enter the kids’ race.  


“Some racers just come for the event, but we’re finding that many other participants want to combine the race with a weekend experience. Coming to Sunday River makes it possible to take advantage of resort activities, the spa, and restaurants,” said Morse.


Loon Mountain and Sunday River will host one of four O2X Summit Challenges this fall, along with Sugarbush in Vermont and Windham Mountain in New York. Participants compete by running and trekking over mountainous terrain, river crossings, downed trees and other natural obstacles.


“The Sunday River O2X event Sept. 27-28 is not only a challenging opportunity for a natural obstacle course, but timing will be perfect for the fall foliage display,” said Morse.


Photo: Tough Mountain Challenge at Sunday River (Sunday River)


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