Obstacle race director vows to ‘do it right this time’

Published on July 22, 2014
Organizers of The Juggernaut say the race is meant for people of varying fitness levels. — Submitted photo

After backlash over Mud Immortal last year, St. John’s will soon have a new obstacle race. This time, the director promises participants will not be disappointed. MAX and Clovelly golf course are teaming up to put off the Juggernaut, a five-kilometre obstacle race on Oct. 4.

The race will take place on and around the Clovelly Golf Course, veering through nearby woods and through the Clovelly Stables. It will feature 18 obstacles, including a mud crawl, a 15-foot ramp climb, and monkey bars. Although it is not termed a mud race, event director Peter Barbour says there is definitely some mud involved.

“Really the goal for everybody is to have fun, but we also want them to be challenged,” said Barbour, who is also the wellness director at MAX. “Essentially, we are looking to challenge people in a number of different ways, whether it’s climbing over something, climbing under something, going through things.”

Last year, a separate group put off a similar race called Mud Immortal. The event garnered several dissatisfied participants, many of whom complained it was disorganized and chaotic, featured obstacles that were dangerously falling apart, and had a lack of water and food. One woman, who suffered injuries falling from monkey bars onto hard, packed gravel, filed a lawsuit against the event organizer for negligence and breach of contract.

 Barbour said participants should rest assured the Juggernaut will not make the same mistakes.

“It was definitely saddening to see such a massive positive response to a race of that type only for people to have a negative experience. We realize that if Newfoundland is going to rise to the occasion with this style of fitness, we’ve got to do it right this time. Because people are apprehensive. They’ve already got burned once; they’re very apprehensive about diving in for another one. So we will take every precaution necessary to ensure that the quality of this product is what is should be,” said Barbour.

“Between our experiences with Max and Clovelly, we’ve put off numerous various types of events. This is not strange to us; this is not foreign. We know exactly what we’re doing to ensure the race is put off smoothly and people enjoy the experience.”

To ensure safety, the obstacles were designed by local engineering company, Jewer Bailey Consultants Ltd.

 “Frankly, we could have hired a regular construction company to come and build things and no doubt we could have made sure it was very safe. But we decided to go above and beyond just to show people how serious we are about the quality of race that we’re trying to put together,” said Barbour. “Essentially, we want to show the public that we’re not messing around. This is a fun and safe race. We don’t want anyone to feel unsure of participating in this race because of safety.”

Last year’s Mud Immortal race had a turnout of more than 5,000 participants. While Barbour said he hopes for a similar response, he will not go over the set cap of 2,000.

“We will stick to our cap. If we do hit that we’ll probably try to open another day, as opposed to trying to pack more people into one day,” he said. “We’re not going to squish more people into one day because we believe that would decrease the integrity of the product.”

Barbour stresses that the race is for people of all fitness levels, not just top athletes.

“For some of our more challenging obstacles, if someone feels that they can’t or don’t want to do it, it’s totally fine. We don’t make anyone do anything,” he said.

Barbour said if people do not want to do a particular obstacle, they have the option of instead doing burpees, overseen by the “burpee police.”

“Really this race is about accomplishment. It’s not about whether or not someone does an obstacle or not or whether they complete an obstacle. It’s about getting through it and feeling that sense of accomplishment at the end.”

Registration is now open online at thejuggernautchallenge.com; participants are encouraged to register as a group. Early registration is $65 and ends July 25. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Dr. Jack Hand Legacy Foundation.