Mud and music

TUPPER LAKE – More obstacles means more sweat and mud this Saturday at the third annual Tupperpalooza Warrior Run and Music Festival.

For those brave enough to race, several new obstacles and some upgrades to previous ones will make it harder than ever to complete the 3.5-mile course, which winds its way up – and back down – Mount Morris, the 3,133-foot mountain that’s home to the Big Tupper Ski Area.

Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce President Adam Boudreau said the daunting course will be easier to follow, but finishing it is a whole other ball of mud.

For starters, a second pond has been added. The original, 3-foot-deep pond is still a challenge to plow through, but the new one offers a rope to help participants cross its 9-foot depths.

“After the new pond, there is an obstacle with some fencing that we call Prison Break,” Boudreau said. “You’ve basically climbed the entire mountain, and then there’s this fence that’s about 6 or 7 feet high.”

The course designers strive to strike a balance between safety and difficulty, which isn’t always easy to do when mud, ropes and wood are involved.

Particularly daunting is the relocated and redesigned Spider’s Web. Last year’s web consisted of a series of stakes and ropes strategically placed to trip up sloppy-footed interlopers, but now it’s built around a downed beech tree in the woods.

Racers will crawl under the enclosed tree, which rests a few feet off the ground and is braced with support beams, and snake their way through its many broken limbs before emerging out of the opposite end, where part of a living tree must be climbed to exit the obstruction.

“We try to walk a careful edge,” Boudreau said. “We don’t want anyone to get seriously hurt, but we want them to sweat and get dirty. It’s all about getting their heart rate up. The mountain takes care of a lot of that for us. The mountain is the biggest obstacle.”

Boudreau said extra signs have been added to keep the mud-caked runners on track, and viewing stations will allow observers to get closer to the action. A DJ booth will await participants at the top of Chair 2.

Based on current registration numbers, Boudreau is expecting up to 300 participants this year, a big jump from the 180 or so who ran last year. If that happens, he said he might have to plan for a longer event in 2015.

The cap for this year’s event will likely be 300 racers, so Boudreau urged anyone interested to register before the event.

“For safety and the duration that we have prepared, we send heats out on the course,” Boudreau said. “We don’t want to still be sending heats out at noon so that people are finishing at 2 or 3 o’clock. We want everyone to be finished up by 11:30 or noon so we can have that barbecue atmosphere.”

Boudreau also emphasized that there will be plenty of food, music and Saranac beer on hand for warriors and non-warriors alike to enjoy.

Local musician Ben McClelland will play at 11:30 a.m., right before the awards ceremony. The Albany-based jam band Formula 5 and the Ithaca-based indie-pop group The Blind Spots will play after the ceremony.

Warrior runners can compete individually or as a team. Prizes will be awarded for the top male, female and team. Teams can be comprised of three to 10 people, with the finish times of the first three team members used to determine that team’s total time.

Registration the day of the race is $70, or $65 per person for teams. All active and retired military personnel will receive a 15 percent discount. The race fee includes an official T-shirt, free entry into the music festival, a timing chip, a free Saranac beer at the end of the race and a swag bag.

Packet pick-up and registration is from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., and the first wave of runners start at 10 a.m.

Admission for spectators is $5 per person, with kids 4 and younger free. Boudreau said that fee will help the event grow next year. Spectators can take chairlift rides on Chair 2 for no additional charge.

There will be a Saranac beer tent on site, and two food vendors selling hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue.

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