by Ian Roantree
They ran up hills and down them, over fence gates and under fences. They marched through muddy trenches and uneven terrain, crawling through tubes and tires and scaled walls, some tall, others not. But despite all of the physical obstacles that came before each racer in the Warrior Run, it was the heat that put the body and minds of those runners to the test.
In all, 123 runners registered to participate in the Chamber of Commerce’s Warrior Run on Saturday, July 20, but not all 123 ran. Saturday’s heat, it would seem, had separated the boys from men, the girls from women, and the brave from the yielding when that number dropped down to 111.
This year saw the return of the Tupper Lake Warrior Run which failed to take legs last year.
“I was a little worried,” said the race’s event coordinator, Krit LaMere. “Because the Chamber didn't do the race last year I wasn't sure if we would get everyone back but I saw a lot faces I have seen in past races.”
At noon sharp the first wave of runners took off and every five minutes after another group followed. As they pushed through each obstacle, hurdle, hardship and hitch, those racers had one thing on their minds: a cold Raquette River brew that awaited them at the finish line, possibly far more appealing than the cold showers that were temporarily installed for the soon-to-be mud-covered, sweat-drenched racers.
But not every racer could dream of a cold glass of beer as they pushed through the course. Some of those warriors weren’t old enough to drink yet. “We had about a dozen kids run it this year which was really cool,” Ms. Lamere said. “We liked getting the kids interested. It brought a bunch of families able to do it together.”
Unlike in previous years, the race started and finished at Raquette River Brewing instead of up atop Big Tupper which brought the race onto the Bencze property in behind the Balsam street brewery.
For months, Doug and Sarah Bencze and their two boys, Willie and Charlie prepared for the Warrior Run, turning their expansive property into a diverse race course, exploiting its wide and open meadows to deploy man-made obstacles and the nooks and crannies for the natural ones. Without the Bencze family and their beautiful lands, this race wouldn’t have been possible.
The Bencze patriarch, Doug, ran his 5K course in 0:40:22, placing eighth overall.
“I heard from many of them that they had a great time, they really enjoyed the course and they will be back next year. A few mentioned that the course was tougher than last time which was nice because that's what we were going for.”
In the 5K race, the men’s leaders were Randy Beckwith, finishing in 0:26:59, Peter Morehouse with 0:30:37, and Rich Edwards, finishing in 0:35:42. Female leaders of the 5K were Tupper Lakers Jessica Fortune, finishing in 0:39:22, and Maureen Shaheen with 0:42:15. The third best female finisher in the 5K was Kayla Huey with a time of 0:41:15.
For the 8K race, also known as the Adventure Run, the men’s leaders were Garth Brennan, with 0:46:49, Jason Grammo with 0:49:14 and David Martin 0:55:57.
The women’s leaders were Sarah Grammo with 0:54:14, Virginia Ammons with 0:55:00. and Danielle Spencer with a time of 1:02:01.
Great thanks go out to Mark and Joe of Raquette River Brewing for allowing their establishment be taken over for the day and for their accommodating spirits. Special thanks go out to all of the sponsors too, who have continued their support year after year. They are W&B Golf Carts, Northern Diesel, Bencze Tree Service, Mitchell Stone and Products, Usher Farms, Shaheens Market, Belleville and Associates, Hyde Fuel, Twin D Auto, the Town of Tupper Lake Highway Department, T.S. LaMere Construction, Taylor Rental, Spruce and Hemlock and Northwood Cabins.
And of course, the day wouldn’t have gone as smooth as it did had all of the helpful volunteers not come out to endure the heat and deer flies. Many thanks go out to Paige Dukett, Cathy Shaheen, Rod Boushie, Liam Price, Gabe Burns, Tyler Shore, boB Collier, Reynald Grammo, Tom Gilman, Dorrie Gilman, Tom Sciacca, Bill Hutt, Aaron Price, Amy LaLonde, Emily Burns, Charlotte Price, Shane Jesse, Tim Frey, Miles Thibodeau, Crystal Boucher, Paul O’Leary, Adam Baldwin, Margaret O‘Leary, Brittany La Barge, Kelsey Summer and Brian Burns.