Mud and obstacles present fun 'Challenge'

06/29/2014 by Suzanne Laurent

PORTSMOUTH — After receiving directions and spraying themselves with insect repellent, 28 participants in the first annual Portsmouth Challenge took off on a 2-mile obstacle course through the woods behind Portsmouth High School.

The event was hosted by the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce to benefit the high school's business education program and the scholarship fund at Great Bay Community College.

"This is a fun event and it's all about Portsmouth," said Doug Bates, president of the chamber. "There are lots of parents running with their sons or daughters, too."

Bates designed the course, which allowed participants ages 12 and up, with Portsmouth Police Chief Steve DuBois and PHS Athletic Director Rus Wilson.

"Next year, the business program at the high school will do all the event planning and marketing," Bates said. "This is just our first time, but we expect it to grow quite a lot next year."

Great Bay Community College staffers had a nine-member team and they were cheered on at the finish line by college president Will Arvelo.

Also competing was a team from Portsmouth, with their very own "Captain Portsmouth," also known as Steve Scott. Runner Kristen Freer said she has competed before in a mudder race.

Good thing, because the course got pretty muddy once the runners headed out of the woods after crawling through two long pipes. They had to do a sort of slip and slide under a low sawhorse into some swampy water.

"Eew, this smells awful," many exclaimed as they emerged and began hurdling over barriers and running through tires.

There were 10 obstacles along the course, most near the end. In the woods, some music was blaring, which many runners appreciated.

Robert Ricci, 14, of Greenland, who will be a freshman at PHS in the fall, said hearing the music helped him up a hill along the wooded trail. He was running with his father, Butch Ricci.

Alex Ross of Portsmouth said he was out walking his dog when he saw signs for the race and decided to join in.

"It was a lot of fun," he said.

Zac Cote, 16, of Nottingham took first place in the male category, beating his father Brian. Jamie Lesniak of Dover took first place in the women's category. They each received $100.

Prizes of gift certificates were awarded in five different classes.

The event was sponsored by ENH Power, Atlantic Parking Services, the British Beer Company and Seacoast Spine & Sports Injuries Clinic. Seacoast Spine provided four doctors along the route and offered massages to those who wanted one at the end of the race.