Featured in The Saratogian

June 6, 2015

Story By Jennie Grey

Link to full article can be found here: http://www.saratogian.com/general-news/20150606/muddy-crowd-loves-prevention-councils-tuff-enuff-obstacle-course

Ayla Olsen is 11 years old, the youngest of four siblings and the only girl, but she kept up with her brothers and had just as much fun during the June 6 Tuff Enuff race, which raises money annually for the nonprofit Prevention Council. Trina and Corbin Olsen could pick their daughter out of the muddy crowd of 500 runners by her Disney World T-shirt, which shows a certain small green personage on the back and comments, “Judge me by my size, do you?” on the front. Ayla’s race number just covered Yoda’s question mark.

After crossing the finish line at the Henning Road BOCES campus, Ayla came up to her parents, smiling, shivering and thoroughly drenched, from her sneakers to her hair tie. She had come in 25th in this, her first Tuff Enuff.

“I had fun,” she said. “Now I’d like a hot bath.”

Her brother Ross, 12, shivering cheerfully next to her, added, “Or a hot shower.”

During the race, the Olsen children had encountered plenty of water; alas, none of it very warm or very clear. Tuff Enuff is all about the mud – deep, squishy, oozy mud stacked into hills and carved into ditches crossed by logs. BOCES heavy equipment students designed and built the course.

“Helping youth navigate life’s challenges’ is the Prevention Council’s slogan,” said event coordinator Deirdre Ladd, a marketing strategist at Marketing for Good. “So having an obstacle course in which participants have to crawl uphill, help each other and get down in the muddy trenches seemed like a great idea for a community fundraiser.”

In Saratoga County, the Prevention Council has spent 35 years working with the community to improve health and wellness, and to reduce the impact of drug, alcohol and other substance use.

“This race is our mission in motion,” said Prevention Council Executive Director Janine Stuchin.

Children had their own race first, on a slightly less slippery part of the course; then adults ran a longer 5K around the campus and through the obstacles.

BOCES criminal justice classes helped with parking and crowd control. This year, the culinary arts students made take-out picnic food for purchase after the race.

Everyone started out clean and cheerful, and ended up completely filthy, but still enthusiastic — sometimes more so.

“I was the first female finisher!” said Ashley Weller, 27, of South Glens Falls.


She ran last year with her cousin, 15-year-old Darwin Weller. This year, they had both set out to better their times, and they did. They also took along Taylor Beaury, the 8-year-old son of Ashley’s coworker.

“That was big water,” Beaury said, dripping.

Ashley agreed: “I think there was more water than last year.”

She had volunteered at Tuff Enuff two years ago and found the race so much fun that she just couldn’t stand on the sidelines another time.

Tim Luse, a 13-year-old Maple Avenue Middle School student, had run with a group of his friends. At the finish, he trotted over to his parents, oozing water from his sneakers, but still smiling.

“It was fun,” he said. “But it was hard to go through all of that — a lot harder than I thought it would be.”

Luse’s mother, Kyle, was prepared with a post-race bag of towels and clean clothes, which relieved his father, Tim Sr. (Many Tuff Enuff parents happily cheer on their kids, but share a small worry about the family car.)

“We are extremely proud of Tim,” Kyle Luse said. “He finished strong. He can have whatever he wants for lunch now.”

Tim Luse Sr. said, “Probably Smashburger.”