Ogden Wellness Weekend Is In the Home Stretch

12:15 pm Sunday, April 28, 2019

WHEELING — A month from now, on what participants hope will be a calm, cool and slightly overcast Sunday afternoon, upward of a thousand brave and hardy souls will be preparing to tackle the inaugural Tough as Nails Urban Challenge.

They will launch 200 at a time, every 15 minutes from the starting line at 14th and Main streets. There will be plenty of smiles all around, and even some laughter.

And then, the first obstacle.

The laughter ends. The breathing deepens. The heart rate increases. The grimaces form.

The real work begins.

The first obstacle is a mystery obstacle sponsored by Liberty Distributors, to be located on the Market Plaza in downtown Wheeling. Once that’s complete, competitors will run or walk down Main Street to the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Transportation Center, where they will encounter the “Step-Up” — more than 120 steps along the outside of the Intermodal.

This obstacle, sponsored by The Health Plan of West Virginia, leads to the “Meat Grinder” sponsored by Miklas Meat Market, a tire pull on top of the Intermodal.

After coming back to ground level, competitors may feel a sense of accomplishment — until they realize that the race is less than a mile in.

There’s still more than 5 miles to run or walk, and 17 obstacles to conquer — including, at about 4 miles in, a trip up the “Stairway to Heaven.”

This obstacle — No. 14 overall, and definitely not No. 1 in any sane person’s heart — is sponsored by Braunlich Orthopedics, and entails about 400 concrete stairs that will transport competitors from the Wheeling Heritage Trail to Wheeling Heights. That’s an elevation gain of several hundred feet that’s sure to get the lactic acid building in the calves.

Many other obstacles will be on the course, including the signature obstacle — the “Bucket O’ Nails” challenge along the Heritage Trail in Center Wheeling, sponsored by Lowe’s and Tunnel Ridge LLC.

It’s going to take teamwork and perseverance to complete the course, and organizers are hoping that shared mission becomes a staple of the new Memorial Day weekend event.

“That’s what these urban obstacle races are really all about — camaraderie and teamwork, and of course the most important event of the day, the recovery party,” organizer Jim Gibbons said. “We will have participants ranging from elite athletes to weekend runners to people who decide to do the Tough as Nails on the spur of the moment. It’s going to be a really interesting mix.

“What makes events such as ours attractive to people today is simply this: they’re not about the finishing time, but instead about the shared mission of finishing. We’re really excited to offer this event to the Upper Ohio Valley and surrounding region.”

The Tough as Nails Urban Challenge, sponsored by the Ogden Newspapers and The Health Plan of West Virginia, is the marquee event in the first-ever Ogden Wellness Weekend. The fun begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, May 25, with the 43rd running of the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic, the 5K Run and Walk for Health, the Ogden Fun Run and the Tiny Tot Trot, sponsored by OV Parent.

On Sunday, the Ohio Valley Trail Partner’s Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour pedals off at 8 a.m., with 10- and 30-mile legs. For the more seasoned riders, there’s also a 100-kilometer tour that heads through West Liberty and Bethany.

Following events on both days, as Gibbons mentioned, is the recovery party.

There will be portable bars set up near WesBanco Arena by Carenbauer Distributing to serve water, soda or choice adult beverages to those of legal age, and a number of food trucks from throughout the region will be filling empty stomachs.

Additional food and beverage items also can be purchased.

There also will be a number of local and regional bands both days, helping to fuel the festive atmosphere at Wheeling’s waterfront.

Gibbons said registration for the Tough as Nails continues to be strong, and noted those on the fence can save $10 off their registration fee by signing up before May 1. On May 1, registration for the Tough as Nails goes from $75 to $85, Gibbons said.

The Tough as Nail’s noon starting time slot of 200 participants already is filled, and the other heats are filling fast, Gibbons added.

Also, those wishing to take part in the Scatterday Challenge — a grueling test of running or walking the Half Marathon on May 25, riding either the 10- or 30-mile leg of the bike race on May 26 and then completing the Tough as Nails — can still get the introductory price of $99 to register for all three events if done prior to May 1. After that, the entry fee for the challenge increases to $110.

Several participants already have committed to the challenge, and it’s Gibbons’ goal to have at least 25 competitors prove they’re tough enough.

The event is named for the late R. “Scat” Scatterday, longtime race director of the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic who died earlier this year.

Those who take part and complete the challenge will be honored with a specially designed T-shirt being created by The Wheeling Feeling. Also during the events, Scatterday Challenge participants will have their own race bib to wear during all three events.

Registration for the Scatterday Challenge or any of the individual Ogden Wellness Weekend events — the Half Marathon, 5K Run and Walk, Ogden Fun Run, Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour or the Tough as Nails Urban Challenge — can be done at ogdenwellnessweekend.com.

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