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Awesome warriors take up challenge

While most of us avoid obstacles, some seek them out as a means for fun.

While most of us avoid obstacles, some seek them out as a means for fun.

Over 40 obstacle race enthusiasts decided to make a short run a tough one at the first annual Awesome Warrior Challenge on Saturday at the mud bog pits off Robert Service Way in Whitehorse.

Race organizer Taelin Free deemed the inaugural event a success and said it’s only going to get better.

“It’s going to be improved next year,” said Free. “I did some studying that involved some mazes and obstacles and things like that, and I thought the Yukon doesn’t have one of these events and around the world it’s becoming more popular as a fitness direction. It’s kind of like an adventure, a journey and you get to test yourself.”

The three-kilometre course featured over 30 obstacles, taking racers through a mud pit, over a trough of fire, over walls, through a maze and more.

Sounds tough? Solo men’s winner Tom Fulop was hoping for more.

“It was a lot more running than I expected and a lot less obstacles,” said Fulop. “I was expecting a little more climbing, more monkey-barring, more intricate obstacles.”

Fulop completed the course in 21 minutes and 52 seconds, narrowly outpacing second place Terry Joss (22:36) and third place Alex Hanson (23:31).

If Fulop would have preferred something more agonizing, that’s because that’s how he likes it. He won a gold medal in the painful knuckle hop Arctic sport event at this year’s Arctic Winter Games.

“I was expecting the mud, but all the rest of the obstacles were not challenging enough,” said Fulop. “Fun day, fun course, but I was hoping for more challenging obstacles.”

Solo women winner Julia Gerlach feels the obstacles are where she gained ground over her competitors.

“I enjoyed it. I wasn’t prepared to do it, I just decided this morning,” said Gerlach. “So I regret that I had a little bit to drink yesterday and didn’t really train at all this year. I enjoyed the obstacles a lot.

“I love mud and obstacles and crawling underneath. I love that, so that’s probably where I made up the most time. My running wasn’t super fast.”

Gerlach, who finished with a time of 22:42 in front of Kyla Adams (23:49) and Andrea Buckley (26:10), has a strong background in triathlon. She won the women’s 18-24 age group at the 2002 Ironman Canada championships. She also won the open women division of the Long Lake Triathlon in 2006.

“I have an overall fitness I’ve kept over the years,” said Gerlach. “In small communities there’s always a chance to win.”

Members of the All Out Training and All Out Hockey programs took the top two spots in the team event, beating out Team Firefighters.

“We train every week, so obviously we have great fitness going into the competition,” said Chris Anderson of the winning All Out #2 team. “We worked hard - you have to push it to get the win.”

The race is based on the model set by Tough Mudder races, held on five continents and designed by British Special Forces. The Tough Mudder races are much longer and require teamwork to complete.

“People started enjoying them so much they started downsizing them, making them a little bit smaller, so you didn’t need a team to get over (obstacles),” said Free.

Contact Tom Patrick at