Tough Mountain Challenge Sunday RiverOne of the biggest events of the Maine summer — the Tough Mountain Challenge — takes over Sunday River Resort in Newry July 26. Some 3,500 racers have pre-registered in the sold-out event. But, there’s plenty of room for spectators to enjoy the competition for free.

Participants can race as individuals or as teams of four people. Prizes are awarded to the top three finishers in three age categories — under 30, 30-40, and 40-plus as well as to the top three teams.

The competition covers a four mile course laced with 17 obstacles including new ones like Webbed Wood Run; Look Ma!; Hurdles from Hell; and Jersey Meets Tough Mountain. For the latter, about two-dozen concrete barriers are strategically placed on a muddy surface.

Staples of the event include Hurricane Alley; WTF; Baker Pond Crossing; and Slip, Slide and Die. Another event staple is the shotgun bear station for competitors over 21.

The Big Ass Bash kicks off the festivities the evening before from 7-11 p.m., complete with a fireworks show. The party in the South Ridge Lodge is free to competitors, guests and spectators.

Lodging is at the resort’s two full-service hotels and condos and throughout the Bethel area.

Photo: Here's mud in your eye -- Tough Mountain Challenge style (Sunday River)