Ready to throw down the "gauntlet?" If so, you can head out to Harvey County East Park next month, as the Conquer the Gauntlet obstacle race is set to make its return on July 15.
After a successful inaugural run at East Lake Park last year, both Harvey County Parks Director Kass Miller and event organizers Mainprize Industries are happy to be bringing the four-mile obstacle run back in 2017.
"It's such a unique event," Miller said. "I think that this type of competition is getting more and more popular each and every year and it's just something that doesn't happen in our area other than this."
While Mainprize Industries did not confirm if any new obstacles will be added to the 25 featured on the course last year (from "Pegatron" to "Hammer Time"), Miller did say he was told the build of the course will never be the same. The layout won't be the only thing changing, though, as the event was also pushed back into the summer to facilitate easier setup and teardown of the course after rain slowed that process last April.
Construction of the course is handled by Mainprize Industries usually two weeks before the event, with Miller noting the prep on the parks department's end is minimal and pertains mostly to the contracts — making sure "all the Is are dotted and the Ts crossed."
Setting up at East Park last year, it was clear to all parties that the event had found a good home.
"It's a dream location and we love it. It's awesome. Everything's set up perfectly," said organizer David Mainprize last April. "We're hoping to be able to come back year after year."
"The environment itself was very challenging for them (competitors), let alone all the different obstacles that Conquer the Gauntlet builds," Miller said, "and I think that rather than just running on a flat parking lot or something like that it makes it a lot more interesting for them."
Obstacles on the course at East Park weave through various terrains, including creeks, pastures, cliffs and more. The average completion time last year was one hour and 36 minutes, with just over 36 minutes clocked as the best time overall.
Being a qualifier for the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships in Canada is also a draw of the event, with last year's overall winner, Jordon Buscemi, coming from Wisconsin, while others made the trek from Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, etc.
Miller noted there were approximately 1,200 individuals in total who took part in Conquer the Gauntlet at East Park last year, with around 800 more on hand just to watch. He is expecting even more competitors (around 1,400) this year, with event organizers opening up two additional waves — each wave features 100 competitors — for this year's race. Waves will begin at 8 a.m. July 15, with the last wave of competitors taking to the course at 11:30 a.m.
Registration is currently $79 through the month of June and will go up to $89 in July, with a registration deadline set for July 9. Whatever the cost to compete, it's an experience Miller (who took part last year) recommends.
"No matter what you pay, it's well worth it. It's a fun, fun, fun event," Miller said. "You'll meet so many new people, and it's not like you're on your own to complete the course. Strangers will help drag you over those different obstacles or help you up the cliff or whatever the case may be. It's really a team effort to try to get through those things."
Along with the increase in competitors, Miller is expecting a larger crowd on hand to watch the event as well. With an increased attendance, there could be an increased economic impact felt in the county, too, whether through competitors booking local hotel rooms, visitors eating at local restaurants, etc.
For those interested in attending, parking is $10 and admission is $5 for the Conquer the Gauntlet event at East Park. While the obstacle race is for competitors 12 and older, there will be half mile course set up for children 5 to 11, which will cost $20 and be open for registration the day of the event.
To learn more about Conquer the Gauntlet or register for the race, visit www.conquertheguantlet.com.