Six hundred Ithacans will brave running up steep hills, wheelbarreling dummies, all while dodging EMTs during the Ithaca Children’s Garden’s inaugural Tough Turtle obstacle race. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Ithaca Children’s Garden.
Erin Marteal, the executive director of the Ithaca Children’s Garden and race director, began to organize the event last year as a fundraiser, with added hopes of making locals more aware of ICG. Located south of Cass Park on the Cayuga Inlet, ICG is a place and a program that organizes many educational programs among the community’s youth.
The 5-kilometer Tough Turtle race will take place on April 20 along the Cayuga Waterfront Trail and the Black Diamond Trail on the south shores of Cayuga Lake.
Three divisions and eight heats will make up the morning race. There are four heats designated for individuals and teams age 16 and older, two heats set for family groups of two or more adults, plus at least one child, and one special heat titled the “Mayor’s Heat.” This heat was created for City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick and will be made up of those who the mayor invites to join his team.
Volunteer coordinator and head intern of the Tough Turtle Khamila Alebiosu said the race involves 12 obstacles that are all sponsored by businesses within the Ithaca community. The first out of the gates is the anaerobic ascent, sponsored by Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company. Racers will have to scale a steep hill that is designed to take the runner’s breath away. The obstacle closest to the finish line is the compost and carrot crawl, sponsored by GreenStar.
“Each [obstacle] has a very unique flavor, and altogether, I think it’s a mix of physically challenging obstacles that require grit and perseverance as well as humor,” Marteal said.
Kevin Brady, membership services supervisor and trainer at Island Health & Fitness, is teaching the Tough Mud Training class to prepare runners for obstacle course races. He will also be running in the race.
“It’s great that we’re able to sponsor such a good cause,” Brady said. “It’s great for us to get our name out there and, again, promote health and fitness within the community.”
Marteal said she decided to add the obstacle course element to the race to try something new and different for the city.
The Tough Turtle initially had 300 open spaces but sold out within the first 10 hours of registration. The board then decided to open 300 more, which also sold out by the next day.
Runners could either pay a $60 flat fee or sign up as a fundRACER. These participants don’t pay out of pocket but commit to raise $275 to support the Ithaca Children’s Garden.
The objective of the Tough Turtle is to raise $40,000, and according to Marteal, the race is close to meeting its target goal.
The funds will go toward future plans for physical site developments of the Ithaca Children’s Garden, as well as supporting the staff to make ICG programs possible.
“The whole point of it is to get kids outside, get kids involved in nature and growing things,” John Alvarez del Castillo, an educator for the Ithaca Children’s Garden, said.
Myrick will run in the Mayor’s Heat at 11:20 a.m. Myrick said he is glad to contribute to the Ithaca Children’s Garden, even though he hasn’t participated in a race since high school track.
“I hope the paramedics are on hand in case my asthma gets out of hand or I have a heart attack,” Myrick said. “Honestly, I think it’s the best kind of event. It helps people be healthy, and it encourages them to stay fit, or, in my case, to get fit. It raises money for an excellent cause, the Ithaca Children’s Garden.”
This article was originally produced in the Multimedia Journalism 48000 class.