June 5, 2016
Story by Paul Post
Featured in:The Saratogian
Link to article can be found here: http://www.saratogian.com/general-news/20160605/down-and-dirty-hundreds-turn-out-for-tuff-enuff-challenge
Racers navigate a steep dirt hill, one of many obstacles in the 5K Tuff eNuff Challenge for teens and adults in Saratoga Springs on Saturday. More than 500 people took part in the event, a fundraiser for the Prevention Council. Racers navigate a steep dirt hill, one of many obstacles in the 5K Tuff eNuff Challenge for teens and adults in Saratoga Springs on Saturday.
More than 500 people took part in the event, a fundraiser for the Prevention Council. Neil Cary had a life-changing experience a few years ago. His grandmother took one look at his soft, out-of-shape 270-pound frame and called him “Fluffy.”Now he’s a lean, hard 205 pounds and on Saturday the 30-year-old Schaghticoke resident was the first adult to cross the finish line in the Tuff eNuff 5K Obstacle Course Challenge hosted by the Prevention Council. “The hardest part was sinking in the mud,” Cary said smiling. “I tried to lift my leg and it wouldn’t come out.”
More than 500 kids, teens and adults crawled, climbed and splashed their way through the course, adjacent to the Saratoga Springs BOCES Center on Henning Road. The course was prepared by BOCES heavy equipment operator students. Participants had to scramble up tall mounds of dirt, wriggle their way through ropes, run through tires and navigate water-filled ditches.
Clayton Orzel, a 15-year-old Waldorf School of Saratoga student, had a simple explanation for joining the fun. “I just wanted to do something to push me above my limits,” he said. The same was true for everyone involved. The Prevention Council’s motto is: “Helping youth navigate life’s challenges.” So the race, now in its fifth year, is the perfect test for kids, which they can do with family and friends.
The event is also a fundraiser for the Prevention Council, which conducts school programs throughout Saratoga County to help young people make smart, healthy choices by avoiding alcohol and drugs. Justine Henderson celebrated her 9th birthday by inviting third-grade classmates to join her in the one-mile kids run. The 5K course was for teens and adults. “I liked jumping in the mud puddles,” Henderson said with a laugh. “I just like to get dirty.” Her mother, Wendy Henderson, was proud of her daughter’s accomplishment. “It’s a great day with her friends,” she said. “They all stuck together and helped each other over the obstacles.” However, there’s one wish Justine Henderson didn’t get for her birthday. It didn’t rain, which would have made it even muddier.
Mitchell and Nannette Barker of Moreau turned out with their two children – Pierce, 7, and Eve, 4. What did Pierce like best? “Crossing the finish line,” he said matter-of-factly. Pierce’s mom did the adult course while his father watched little Eve and kept clean clothes ready for his wife to change into. “I’m the official holder,” Mitchell Barker joked.
The event wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of numerous volunteers such as Linda “Cupcakes” Bellick, who wore a colorful party costume complete with a pink and purple wig. The first 200 young children to complete the one-mile kids run received a one-day pass to Great Escape. Awards were also given to the muddiest male and female teen/adult competitors. Sisters-in-law Louise and Joann Giovannone of Burnt Hills and Schuylerville, respectively, ran the race in tribute to Joann’s late son, Nick, a Schuylerville High School student who took part in the first Tuff eNuff Challenge in 2012. He passed away two months later, at 16, from type 1 diabetes. Both women wore Hawaiian-style leis and bright-colored T-shirts decorated with butterflies, and Louise Giovannone even donned a long grass skirt. Prevention Council Executive Director Janine Stuchin said the Tuff eNuff Challenge is the only annual event of its kind in the local area.