After biking several miles, trudging through the mud, and even losing a shoe, Madi Geidel and Jack DeMola, sixth-grade students at Oklahoma Middle School, eventually crossed the finish line at the Kids Adventure Games, the duo coming in first among racers their age at the Memorial Day weekend event in West Virginia.
The Kids Adventure Games are a series of youth-friendly obstacle courses throughout the country. They were started in 2010 in Vail, Colorado, and organizers say they were developed to emphasize outdoor play for children and teens. The race at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia consisted of 26 activities, including biking, running, jumping, mud pits, ziplines and more. At the mountain, 60 teams participated in the competition, divided by age and gender of the groups.
Jack said he first heard about the games after a ski trip to Snowshoe Mountain. He said he enjoyed skiing there so much that he started looking into other events at that location. After a couple of months of checking out their options, he said, he came across the Kids Adventure Games. As someone who loves running and biking, he jumped at the chance to participate.
Because each contestant in the race requires a partnership between two competitors, Jack reached out to his friend Madi, who was in the same grade at school.
"I think it sounded really cool," Madi said. "Knowing my abilities, I thought it would be something that was really fun to do. It's pretty cool."
Madi said as soon as they decided to participate in the run, she and Jack began a training regiment to prepare. She said the two of them started biking through the woods together in order to get used to how hard they were going to have to push themselves in the actual race.
The run featured different stations where competitors had to complete a variety of activities, from climbing a rock wall to jumping from lily pad mats to shooting blow darts at targets. The duo wasn't allowed to move on until both competitors had beaten each station.
Jack said running between the stations was actually the hardest part. Each station would tire you out, not leaving much in the tank to race from place to place.
"I really liked the biking part probably the best; it was also one of the hardest stations though," Jack said.
Together, Jack said, the two of them kept a pretty good pace throughout the competition, which was over an hour long. He said they usually ended up at each station around the same time, except for one point when he held the team back.
"Jack lost his shoe in the mud," Madi said. "His foot got stuck and it got pulled off and he couldn't find it. They told him he couldn't keep going without his shoe, so one of the managers gave him his own shoe."
Despite the shoeless setback, the pair finally were able to pull themselves free from the mud and race through the final stations, crossing the finish line after an hour and two minutes of heavy activity. That time was enough to place them in first for their group of co-ed 12- to 14-year-olds, and sixth overall.
Because each group ran the course individually, the pair didn't know how well they had done until they were announcing the winners.
"It was a little nerve-wracking," Jack said. "When they started saying who the second-place winner was, I knew we had either gotten first or we had gotten fourth or worse."
Madi said it felt great to be honored. For their efforts, the two won a pair of T-shirts, identifying them as winners of the race. Madi said she loves competing and proving herself to others. In a few weeks, she said, she's going to run in a 5K race.