CHESTER – For the third time in three years Wason Pond became the place to be for obstacle course competitors. The fields and trails were full all day long Saturday, May 4, as runners ran, jumped, crawled, climbed and had a great time with friends and family.
The weather stayed warm and clear all day and while there were nearly 800 regis- tered competitors, another 63 signed up that day. Obstacle course events are a quickly growing pastime that a group of Chester residents, now called the Chester Charitable Founda- tion, have capitalized on to raise money for their com- munity. While the Wason Pond Pounder is a fun and challenging event, it also brings a lot of fundraising dollars to town.
The first Pounder raised $17,000, the second $29,000, and early estimates have the amount raised this year netting $30,000. The most sizeable chunk of that money this year will be going to the Wilcomb Townsend Trust, which helps people all over town through tough finan- cial times. Also benefiting will be the Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Derry and one charity yet to be chosen by each member of the foundation.
The Boy Scouts helped set up and break down the course and earned a $1,000 donation for their efforts. Competitors brought non-perishable food dona- tions, which are set to be delivered to the food pantry at the Chester Clothes Closet and the Chester Community Food Pantry. Chester Charitable Foun- dation member Maria Veale said a lot of effort goes into creating the event and keeps members busy for weeks before and after, but they couldn’t do it without the scores of volunteers. Veale said she’s amazed at how readily people offer their time for the event, year after year, making everything that much smoother. Nearly 80 volunteers came out Saturday.
Surprising a few of the young runners this year was Chester Academy principal Leslie Leahy, who ran the water station. Members of Livestone Church again vol- unteered their time to staff the parking lot. There were new and modified obstacles this year as well as a couple of com- petitive waves where run- ners competed for cash prizes. Taking first place was resident and farmer Patrick Connelly, who donated his winnings back to the foundation.
Not to be outdone, Charitable Foundation mem- ber David Veale took the overall best time of the day.
The feedback was great from runners, said Maria Veale. Except for a couple of sprained ankles, everything went smoothly. The event even earned a positive write-up from the New England Spahtens ob- stacle course racing team.
The Spahtens described it well, saying that “Wason keeps the feeling and mood of the day like you’re at a big family cookout. Lots of kids and families around.” Organizers are already starting to think about next year’s obstacles. For more information and times, visit www.wason- pondpounder.com.