There is one type of person for whom this entire piece will read like “blah blah blah mud pit blah blah blah tug-of-war in the same mud pit blah blah blah.” We approve. So let’s get this right out of the way: at the fifth annual Tough Tiger, held 12:30–2:30pm on May 6 over a two-mile course in Barrington, there is a mud pit, and you and your family can run right into it. In fact, you must.
“Tough Tiger” is named for the tiger mascot of the Hamden Meadows School, where the adventure race designed to be accomplished by young people was born. What began as a school event has grown into a community phenomenon and the largest fundraiser for the school that supports the creation and maintenance of both maker spaces and outdoor activity areas for leaders and students. Eighteen obstacles include eight professional challenges set up by Laid-Back Fitness in Warwick and homespun additions like water buckets, a paint race, and the grand finale through the mud pit.
Justine Chonoles-Currie is the chair of the 2018 edition, and it doesn’t take much arm-twisting to get her to admit that the prospect of exercise when there is a promise of getting good and messy is what gets young people enthused. “AB-SO-lutely. The majority of the parents get excited because the kids are excited,” she says. One parent described their post-Tough Tiger experience last year: “We got home, we got changed, we got cleaned up, we had a bonfire, and we just chilled out, saying what an amazing day this was.”
In addition to the two hours of Tough Tiger heats, there are some of southeastern New England’s finest food trucks, over two dozen themed raffle baskets filled with items for perfect spa days, picnics, beach days, and barbecues, and, new for 2018, once the race heats are over, the aforementioned tug-of-war in the mud pit. C’mon, once one has a good mud pit going, one should get the most mileage out of said mud pit.
I asked Currie whether anybody’s keeping score. “No way,” she says. “It’s all about unification, about getting families together.” And mud. We mentioned mud, right?