A new type of physical challenge is coming to the area to help raise funds for the Steelville Community Park track. The first Riverat Challenge, which includes a two-mile run, two-mile kayak, and mud course, will be held in Steelville on September 13.
The Riverat Challenge is being parented by Eagle Flight Ministries, a non-profit organization, with all funds raised going straight into the track. Over the years, the track has deteriorated, and the Steelville School District is no longer able to hold high school track meets.
“I believe we can still host middle school meets, however, we just didn’t think the track is in good enough shape to host a high school meet,” said Steelville Superintendent Mike Whittaker. “The track is safe to run on, however, the lines are fading and it’s just not high quality right now. We are in the early stages of developing a long-range plan to raise money for the repair and maintenance of the track.”
Ben and Rachel (Tolly) Martin, former Steelville track athletes, are organizing the challenge. When they were in school, both were actively involved in the initial fundraising efforts for the track. More than a decade later, the two are putting a lot of time and effort to get the track back up and running.
The challenge is designed to cater to individuals, but competitors are encouraged to sign up in teams of five as parts of the mud course will require a great deal of teamwork. Anyone over the age of 12 is welcome to participate, but children 12-15 must be accompanied by an adult during the challenge. The challenge is not a timed event, but team prizes will be awarded, and every participant will receive a T-shirt.
Until August 16, registration for individual participants is $40 and teams of five are $180. After that date, individual entry bumps up to $45, and the team fee will be $200. Spectator tickets will be $5.
According to the challenge’s website, the run will begin on Bird’s Nest Road from Wildwood Springs Lodge and continue to Bird’s Nest Bridge Meramec River access. From there, participants will climb into a kayak and paddle down the Meramec Adventure Learning Ranch where there will be a 10-obstacle mud course that will be “muddy, wet, and dirty.”
“When we set this up, we wanted it to be where average people could do it,” Ben said. “We aren’t marketing to elite athletes. The course is designed to where just about anyone can do it. There are a couple of obstacles in the mud course that involve some teamwork.” He went on to explain that anyone with a competitive drive will be able to complete the course and participants can skip some of the more difficult obstacles if needed.