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Urban Warriors Grind Through Another Edition Of Tough As Nails

Photo by Nick Henthorn Competitors race through obstacles atop the Wheeling parking garage on Sunday, May 26 as part of the Tough As Nails Urban Challenge, an annual six-mile course of physical challenges stretching across Wheeling.

WHEELING – The Tough As Nails Urban Challenge presented by The Health Plan has drawn people from throughout West Virginia and even surrounding states to the 20-plus obstacle, six-mile course with a promise of pushing people to their limit- and with another Tough As Nails going down on Sunday, participants were as worn out as they were satisfied coming across the finish line.

This year, over 600 participants traversed abandoned cars, scaled flood walls, and otherwise ran, crawled, climbed, pushed and pulled their way through the course, the course drew comparisons to other challenge-based events like the famous Tough Mudder course in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Always looking for new challenges,” Kevin Cook, a Pittsburgh resident who came down to compete in the Tough As Nails Urban Challenge for the third year, said. “I think it’s a great event, it’s great for the city. It kind of takes Tough Mudder but makes it an urban challenge. It supports the city and it’s also challenging yourself as an athlete.”

Cook, 48, took on the course with his son, Ryan Cook, 19, who took on the challenge for the second year.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to put yourself in a hard situation,” Ryan said. “You can have fun by creating some discomfort, especially doing it with people who you’re friends with.”

Kevin Cook said the most challenging event was a new one to the course this year. Participants were to climb the stairs all the way to the roof of the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Center on Main Street. There, they would need to crawl up a water slide, going against the current and getting more than a little wet before proceeding back down the parking garage.

The Cooks were one of many families who used Tough As Nails as a unique family bonding experience. Rachel Burrell and Sarah Spielvogtl were two members of a six-family member clan of competitors who converged on Wheeling from around the country.

Burrell lives in South Carolina, and Spielvogel in Maryland, while other members of their family who competed Sunday live around West Virginia.

“This is our hometown, so we have family here,” Spielvogel said. “I live in Maryland, my daughter ran this today as well. They came from South Carolina, one of our cousins in the military came back to run. The rest of the family is in West Virginia.”

“It’s a family event,” Burrell said.

After the event, competitors recharged with food, drinks and live music at Wheeling’s Heritage Port.

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