CHESTER – The fifth annual Wason Pond Pounder is just around the corner and is set to offer a fun challenge for both newcomers to the obstacle race life and veterans who have run the shores of the pond before.
The obstacle course race takes place May 30 and according to organizer Maria Veale with the Chester Charitable Foundation, it will be the biggest and best yet.
The foundation’s volunteers, most of them Pounder participants themselves, are always looking to change the 3.5 mile course, bring in new obstacles, amend existing ones and surprise those runners who make the event an annual stop in their summer racing schedules.
While the event does provide the opportunity for competitive runners to challenge themselves and others, the bulk of the event is non-competitive and more about fun than speed. In addition to two waves of competitive athletes at the start of the day (9 a.m. and 9:20 a.m.), there are several waves for anyone age 14 and up, and the day concludes with
a family run for anyone age 8 and up to run with an adult.
Veale said the course, while it can be challenging, is doable for just about everyone.
The foundation is loathe to give out too much information about the course this year, but they have changed the trails used, built new obstacles, amended one with a slide into the pond, and are busy constructing an item that will allow intersecting trails to be used by runners coming and going.
And local Eagle Scout hopeful Walker Stinson has taken on the creation of an obstacle.
“We try to change the course itself too so that people can do it every year and it’s something new and different for them every year,” said Veale.
While getting out and challenging oneself is key to the race, what makes it attractive to many is what the foundation does with the money earned from the work. Following the event the group gets together and chooses one charity to give a large sum of money to, and then each member chooses an organization or two to be the recipient of smaller sums.
Organizers note that 100 percent of race profits go back into local communities.
Benefiting in the past have been the Wilcomb Townsend Trust, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of New Hampshire, the Upper Room in Derry, Chester’s American Legion Post, the Boy Scouts, the Mayhew Program, Derry’s Sonshine Soup Kitchen, local food pantries, the Chester Clothes Closet, Daughters of Isabella, Wheelchair Health in Motion, Adaptive Sports Partners, Community Caregivers, the Stephen Arkell Foundation and the Kayla Bertolami Scholarship Fund.
The foundation will also again be bringing in groups of at-risk kids at no charge to give them the chance to challenge themselves on the course.
Veale said it’s always a lot of work to put together the event but the final result, combined with the good work they can do with the proceeds, makes it all worth it. Event day becomes a big community get-together as volunteers help run the show, local non-profits sell concessions, neighbors come by to watch and runners hang out and watch their counterparts.
Organizers say the group has good sponsors, allowing them to give back more to local charities, but welcomes more sponsors. They’re also looking for volunteers to help set up and to aid in keeping the event day running smoothly.
If interested in helping out, email the group at email@example.com or call Maria Veale at 867-0132. Follow the group’s progress at its Facebook page.
The race is limited to the first 1,000 entrants and can fill up quickly. The cost to take part is $41 until April 1, when the price goes up to $51 until race day, when the cost is $56 if spots are available.
An extra $5 is charged to take part in the competitive waves, with this money going to prizes for the top three male and female runners.
The race is also part of the New England Spahtens’ #racelocal Grand Prix this year. The obstacle course racing team has chosen the Pounder, along with a bunch of its other favorite runs, for the series this year.