TUPPER LAKE - When Mike Schram appeared out of the woods in the distance at the Big Tupper Ski Area Sunday, the crowd let out a cheer.
Schram was entering the final stretch of the Tupperpalooza Warrior Run, which included a tough uphill section, crawling through thick, nasty mud and climbing a 12-foot wall. At the time, he held a big lead over second-place participant Keith Kogut.
Schram kept that lead as he dug out of the mud and crawled through tires on his chest. Because he was the first person through the tires, he had to clear the mud out of them. After getting through that section, he reached the wooden wall, where he struggled.
Tupper Lake High School senior Gretchen O’Leary crawls through the mud during the Tupperpalooza Warrior Run at the Big Tupper Ski Area Sunday. O’Leary was part of the “Jacked Sandstoners,” which took first place in the team competition.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
It took Schram a few tries to get over the wall, and by that time, Kogut was able to catch up him and pass him. But in the final stretch, Schram used his speed and took first place again. He finished in 32 minutes and 20 seconds, five seconds ahead of Kogut.
"They definitely saved the most difficult obstacle for last," Schram said. "You (had) to reach deep in and use whatever you've got."
Overall, the run was a little more than 2.5 miles long, said Big Tupper Lift Manager Cliff LaMere. The course included a spiderweb (made from a rope in the trees), a tire wall that had to be navigated, a cargo net, a 35-foot-long balance beam, a tire run, a 100-foot-long mud pit with tires, a 12-foot-high climbing wall and a slip 'n' slide at the finish line.
This was the first year of the event that was organized by the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce and Brian Bennett, the race director. Bennett was asked to do the event because he runs the half-marathon and full marathon in Tupper Lake.
Bennett said the race went off without any problems, and he was very happy with the turnout of 125 participants. He did note that it took longer than anticipated to set up the obstacles, which he did with some volunteers.
"We didn't expect there was this much work," Bennett said. "Last week, we didn't get that much sleep at all. We were here."
In addition to Schram's top prize, three other awards were given out.
Kara Defeo took first place among the women, finishing in 36:42. The former Tupper Laker who now lives in East Greenbush said she wanted to do the race because she's training for a marathon and thought this would be fun to do, in large part because it was in her hometown.
"I think it was really tough," Defeo said. "That uphill was intense. I definitely kept going up and up, and just when you're ready to go down, you keep going up. The obstacles themselves were doable. It was the actual running part, the uphill part, but it was doable and fun."
Another award was given out to the fastest team - the "Jacked Sandstoners," a collection of runners from Tupper Lake: Bryan Geiger, Hannah Klossner, Mitch Harriman and Gretchen O'Leary.
"I thought it was really fun," Klossner said. "It was put together really well. The obstacles are still challenging, but doable. I think everyone that did it had fun."
The final award given out went to a collection of women from the Wild Center. The "Warrior Princesses" were dressed in black and pink ballerina tutus and won for best costumes.