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Paul Bunyan Extreme 5-K is July 13

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Participants will find themselves faced with 16 obstacles and an uphill run when they hit the course of the Paul Bunyan Extreme 5K Saturday, July 13, at Ski Gull.

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Despite the hill and the obstacles, race director Eric Anderson, of Brainerd, said the course is modeled after all the activities people enjoyed as kids - rope swings, slip and slides and mud pits.

He stressed that the course is for all abilities, ages 10 and up.

“You can get off the couch and do this race,” Anderson said.

Challenges like this one have been in operation for four or five years, he said, though this is the first one at Ski Gull.

“I think it’s popular because it’s fun,” Anderson said. “It sure beats running on a treadmill.”

Individuals or teams can enter the race, and costumes are encouraged. Trophies will be awarded for winners of each category, including individual, team, and parent/child team. All finishers will receive a medal.

Teams can be made up of 2-8 people, and one team member must be 18 or older.

Contestants start the challenge by making their way through a giant mud pit. From there, it’s up the hill to numerous other challenges- the dumpster dive, in which contestants swim through ice water from one end to the other of a large construction dumpster; sink or swing, which includes a rope swing into a mud pit and a horizontal rope climb; Paul Bunyan’s boot, where participants will rope-climb up one side of a giant boot and go down a cargo net on the other; the black hole, an obstacle which will remain a mystery until race day; and many more.

Of all the obstacles, though, Anderson said the most difficult is Mother Nature’s hills. While some take the race seriously, Anderson said, others can take their time and walk the hills if they wish.

Online registration is available until June 9 at paulbunyanextreme5k.com. After July 9, participants can sign up at the event but will not receive a free T-shirt. Races will be run every half hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the day of the race, and racers not pre-registered may have to wait a bit longer to race, Anderson said.

Registration prices range from $60-$65 for pre-registration and $70 the day of the race.

Spectators are also welcome. A beer garden and food will be available, and a trampoline will be on-site for children too young to participate in the race. Parking is $5.

Anderson recommends that spectators wear disposable clothes in case they change their minds and decide to take part, as the race will be hard to resist.

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