Register Now for Challenge and Fun at Wason Pond Pounder
By Leslie O’Donnell 1-25-17
Want the challenge of a 5K obstacle course laid out across the Wason Pond recreation area in Chester? Want to help out at a fun event that raises money for local charities?
Then this year’s seventh annual Wason Pond Pounder is the place for you.
Set for May 6 at Wason Pond Recreation Area on Route 102 in Chester, the day-long event has something for just about everyone who enjoys the out-of-doors.
Initiated seven years ago to raise money for the “field of dreams” athletic fields at Wason Pond, the Wason Pond Pounder organizers earned enough money in the first two years to complete work on the fields, and decided to keep going.
They reorganized as the non-profit Chester Charitable Foundation, kept the Pounder as their signature fundraiser, and for years three through six, have donated money raised from the Pounder to a variety of local service organizations. This year should be no exception.
The group donates to a local organization, usually the Wilcomb Townsend Trust, which helps Chester residents going through tough times. In addition, each board member chooses a non-profit as the recipient of his or her donation. Money is also keep in an emergency fund for use during the year.
“We choose local charities,” said event organizer and board member Maria Veale of Chester. “We usually have a group donation to the Wilcomb Townsend Trust, and after that, we divide the money that’s left and each board member chooses a favorite local charity in the Chester and southeastern New Hampshire area. We each have different causes that are near and dear to our hearts.” There are presently 11 board members.
Veale emphasized that 100 percent of all Pounder profits go back into local communities and charities. Race registration is considered a tax-deductible donation, she noted.
A small emergency fund is kept to help people throughout the year, Veale added. This year, as the group had $5,000 available, it solicited suggestions for donations through its Facebook page, and chose a Hampton area organization that provides a soup kitchen, food pantry and Santa Fund, but had exhausted its money buying mattresses for people without beds.
“They were going door-to-door to solicit donations, and we were able to replenish their funds so they could buy clothes and toys for the kids at Christmas,” she said. “We restocked the food pantry shelves and bought food for the soup kitchen meals. When we told them about the donation, the woman burst into tears!”
Now in its seventh year, the 5k course features 25 to 30 obstacles on the trails of Wason Pond, several of them new. Last year there were 26 obstacles, although some featured multiple challenges.
All of the obstacles are optional except in the competitive wave, which opens the event at 9 a.m. and costs an additional $5 at registration. The extra money brought in by competitive participants is divided among the top three men and top three women who complete the Pounder in the fastest time in that first wave. Veale said every obstacle is monitored.
Waves of 75 people ages 14 and up will then start the Pounder every 20 minutes beginning at 9:20 a.m. Family Waves are at 12:40, 1 and 1:20 p.m. and include children ages 8 and up.
Veale said a variety of ages participate in the Pounder, with many folks in the 60-plus age category. “I was pleased to see that there is a fairly even distribution of age groups, from children to 60-plus,” she said.
This year’s obstacles include such challenges as telephone poles, “walk the plank, spools, a tire drag, parallel bars, cargo net, hay bales, dodge ball, monkey bars, and a “Barrels of Fun Water Walk.”
“We usually change the path of travel and we change some of the obstacles and the order of the obstacles because we have people returning each year,” Veale said.
The Pounder is limited to the first 1,000 entrants, and it is expected to reach capacity quickly. The race has attracted over 1,000 participants in the last two years. Registration is $46 until March 19, when it goes up to $51 until April 30. If spots are available, it will be $56 for race day registration. The competitive wave is an additional $5. Registration for the Pounder closes online a week before the race.
There is no on-site parking for other than emergency and handicapped vehicles. All parking for participants and spectators is off site at Aggregate Industries, 91 Chester Road (Route 102) in Raymond, just a few miles from the event. Event organizers say frequent shuttles will travel between the parking lot and Wason Pond.
No dogs are allowed at the Pounder.
Groups registering teams with 20 or more participants are eligible for a discount code worth 15 percent off the entry fee.
Veale said this is the third year that organizers allow programs that help at-risk youth to participate at no charge. This year they expect to include youths from the Manchester YMCA, the Mayhew Program in Bristol, and Webster House in Manchester.
But not everyone may want to take part in the Pounder, and there’s plenty of things for spectators to do. “We have hundreds of spectators, and have a great area for people to watch several obstacles,” Veale said. “We’ll also have a DJ and food vendors. This is a great spectator event as well as something folks enjoy competing in.”
A volunteer crew builds obstacles throughout the year, and benefits from the construction and engineering expertise on the foundation board. Veale said the obstacles are built according to code and safety standards, and lumber is donated by Mike Oleson Construction of Chester.
The Pounder could not take place without volunteers, and Veale said 100 are needed for the day of the event. Sponsorships are also a vital part of putting on the Pounder, and their generosity has made it possible for organizers to come close to covering all expenses. Veale said the Pounder’s Facebook page helps promote the sponsors.
Veale said that when she started with Chester Field of Dreams and worked on the first Pounder, she never envisioned that it would keep going. “It brings us a lot of joy to be able to make a difference, and to work with at-risk kids,” she said.
Participants, volunteers and sponsors are invited to sign up on the Pounder website or call Veale.