May 11, 2012

By Jamie Munks
The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Local high school students on Thursday used heavy equipment to dig trenches and build piles in a field on the BOCES campus where next weekend intrepid competitors will run through the mud to try to best each other in a 5K obstacle course challenge.

The inaugural Tuff eNuff Challenge starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 19, at the grounds of Saratoga Race Course at Union Avenue and Henning Road. The event is being held to benefit the Prevention Council, a community-based organization that seeks to educate people about the potential adverse effects of alcohol and drug use.

“They wanted it dirty, muddy, nasty stuff to go around and over and through,” BOCES instructor Greg Hammond said of the Prevention Council.

“It should be a pretty aggressive course. By the time they get done with this portion, they’re probably going to need a shower.”

Registration is $30 through Friday, May 18, $40 on the day of the race and $25 on the day of the race for teens with high school identification. There will also be a kids’ course; registration for the kids’ course is $10.

The creation of the muddy obstacle course is being used as a learning opportunity for students in the BOCES heavy equipment operation program.

In addition to running through muddy trenches and hills, competitors will be faced with a ropes course through tires and large tubes.

Second-year student Britney Weatherwax, 17, of Cambridge was using a loader to move rocks, drag grass and level ground at the course site. Weatherwax, the only female student in the program now, is distinguishable across the work site by her pink hard hat.

Nick Georgelas, a first-year student in the BOCES program, was digging trenches Thursday as part of the obstacle course. The basic design of the obstacle course was done by the Prevention Council, but the students surveyed the course and got creative with the different obstacles. The program’s two instructors oversee the students’ work to make sure it’s safe.

In order to give the students some real-world job experience, they were required to turn in job applications for the site jobs they wanted with résumés, and were hired accordingly. There were also real-world consequences.

“They know that if they goof off, they can be fired,” Hammond said. “We want to treat the program as much like a real job as we possibly can so within the program they have the basic skills to get a job and the confidence to get work.”

For more information and to register for the Tuff eNuff Challenge, visit the council’s website at