Dave Cressman wants to get kids outdoors and into the mud.
And he hopes most, if not all, of the budding athletes will make it through the inaugural Tuff Kid XC Challenge Sunday at Queen Elizabeth Park.
The new cross-country run April 28 featuring a temporary obstacle course with hidden surprises is meant to help kids enjoy getting literally "out" of the house.
"Basically there is an 'over,' an 'under' and a 'through' to spell 'out,' so we'll have them going over some hurdles like angles steeples and then kind of a crawl under a big tarp that will force them to deal with some ickyness and some sort of out-of-sight, out-of-mind sort of stuff and then we will have a 'through' obstacle that will be a dexterity challenge," said Cressman, the owner of Distance Runwear and a former national cross country champion runner whose two young daughters, Tilda and Nola, will be taking part.
"Not a lot of kids in that age group have the mindset to go out and run for three kilometres or whatever, so by introducing some obstacles along the way, we hope to get those non-runners a bit more motivated to go out and do it."
The course will be different lengths for different age groups with a maximum of 100 spots in each category. Boys and girls ages five to six will take on a 500-metre course while seven-and eight-year-olds will face a course twice as long. The course for nine-and 10-year-olds will be 1,500 metres and the big kids ages 11 to 12 will complete a two-kilometre course. The emphasis is on completing the event and nothing is being timed.
Tuff Kid is modelled on Tough Mudder, a wildly popular adult endurance series along 10-12 mile long military-style obstacle courses that bills itself as "the toughest event on the planet," although course length and incorrect spelling are far from the only things different about Tuff Kid.
For starters, participants won't have to swim through ice-cold water or run through live wires carrying up to 10,000 volts of electricity.
"It's like the Tough Mudder but without the electrical obstacles or anything too death defying," said fellow organizer Darnelle Moore with a laugh. "The ultimate goal is simply for kids to have fun and getting kids into athletics and developing all those really fundamental physical literacy skills."
According to B.C. Athletics, there is a critical period of motor skills development in youth that if missed will limit a child's athletic potential for life. For girls, the window of athletic opportunity is roughly between the ages eight and 11; for boys, it is between nine and 12. The Childhood Obesity Foundation also claims more than 30 per cent of children and youth across Canada are considered overweight or obese.
Cressman told the Courier a second Tuff Kid event is planned for Nov. 3 and he hopes to put on more in the coming years.
"The idea is for it to be the first of a series and kids will be able to collect all the memorabilia from them and give them something to try and stay fit for. We'll have commemorative wristbands and each one will be a different colour, Theoretically, in a few years we'll have kids showing up at the starting line wearing a bunch of different ones indicating they've done the whole series."
For more information or to sign up for any remaining spots, visit tuffkidxcchallenge.wordpress.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
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