Featured in: The Saratogian
Story by: Paul Post
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Compared to what’s coming, a 5K obstacle course was a cakewalk for 18-year-old Silas Dionne of Corinth.
On June 12, he’ll be headed to U.S. Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., where grueling drills start early and last throughout the day.
Dionne and his brother, Elijah, and sister and brother-in-law, Harmony and Brandon Wagner, were among the 600 people who slogged through mud, climbed hills and navigated water-filled ditches on Saturday in the Tuff eNuff Challenge, a Prevention Council fundraising event.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Harmony Wagner said.
“I’m not worried about him, he’ll do fine down there,” her husband said.
“I think he’s ready for it (the Marines),” Elijah Dionne said.
Tuff eNuff is character building, too, and fits in with the Prevention Council’s mission of “Helping Youth Navigate Life’s Challenges” by avoiding drugs and alcohol.
The day’s activities started with a 1K kids run, followed by the 5K for adults, which went off in three separate waves of runners.
The emphasis isn’t on winning, although 19-year-old Chase Collins of Saratoga Springs was the first to cross the finish line, among first-wave entrants, in a time of 22:59.
“A mud pie,” Collins said grinning.
Tom Portuese, of Queensbury, finished close on his heels. His three sons — Tim, Andy and Marcus — completed the 1K course.
“It’s a great way to get dirty and get some exercise with the kids,” Portuese said. “The mud just keeps coming — waves and waves of it.”
The course, at the F. Donald Myers Education Center on Henning Road, was prepared by BOCES heavy equipment operator students. BOCES kids also helped out with security and parking, and culinary students offered refreshments.
The race, in its sixth year, is sponsored by AYCO, whose TeamWorks Program volunteers helped mark the course.
“We couldn’t do this without the help of our community volunteers, many of whom return year after year because this event is so special,” said Erin Smith, volunteer coordinator.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Louis Falcon, a Spa City resident, took a day off from duties at Fort Drum, where he’s stationed, to compete in Tuff eNuff. Like a true warrior, he came dressed in a gold plastic Spartan’s helmet, accompanied by his 5-year-old son, Maddox, who did the kids run.
“It’s intense, it’s fun and you get a good workout,” Falcon said. “And no one’s yelling at you. I could do 15 miles of this. I’m going to tell my soldiers to come next year.