Nichols, Twomey win Elite classes at 2019 Dauntlet

A pair of local competitors powered their way to championships Saturday afternoon in the two elite classes of the second Mustang Days Run the Dauntlet obstacle course at Bairco Construction west of Lovell.

The fastest overall time was run by 14-year-old Preston Nichols of Lovell, who won the Junior Elite Class with a time of 6:53, just five seconds ahead of his twin brother, Benjamin, who finished second in 6:58. Jace Grant was third in 7:39, followed by twins Cameron and Quin Carpenter at 8:45 and 8:49, respectively, running a “double twin” heat with the Nichols boys.

Kyle Leithead climbs up the challenging Mount Dauntless during the Run the Dauntlet Saturday at Bairco Construction west of Lovell. Leithead placed fifth in the Elite Class with a time of 7:32 and teamed up with Cleve Wilson to win the First Responders Challenge with a combined time of 19:53.
David Peck photo

Kaitlyn Christensen of Cowley was the top female finisher in the Junior  Elite Class with a time of 10:12.

Dominic Twomey of Cowley won the Elite Class with a time of 7:06, followed by Keith Grant of Cody in 7:12 and Alan Merritt of Powell in 7:20. Craig Krantz was fourth in 7:32 and Kyle Leithead also ran 7:32 in the fire/police/sheriff challenge, placing fifth overall by 10ths of a second.

Brook Grant of Cody was the top female finisher in the Elite Class, running the course in 9:13 for 11th overall, and last year’s top female, Alena Gittlein of Lovell, was the second female, finishing 18th with a time of 10:40.

The top finisher in the Fun Run Class was Wes Wilkerson, who completed the course in 7:57.

Curtis Lindgren of Basin and Gittlein were the top male and female finishers in the bonus obstacle Pegalodon.

Elite Women’s Class winner Brook Grant swings through the Jungle Fever obstacle at the Run the Dauntlet Saturday at Bairco Construction. Grant won the class with a time of 9:13.
David Peck photo

Kyle Leithead and Cleve Wilson of the Lovell Fire Dept. teamed up to win the first responders challenge with a combined time of 19:53, about 4 ½ minutes ahead of the Powell firemen at 24:13 combined. The Lovell Police Dept. (Dusty Shultz and Cody Clark) was third at 25:09, followed by the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Dept. at 26:39 (Richard Walker and Colton Buckley).

Successful year

Bairco Construction/Club Dauntless co-owner Stacy Bair said the 2019 Run the Dauntlet saw more competitors and more spectators compared to the inaugural event last year, and she was pleased with how things went.

“I think it went terrific,” she said. “We definitely knew more about what to expect this year, and the new component was the professional timing system we purchased. It’s an extremely sophisticated system to add to a race like this.

“Charlie Cooley volunteered many, many hours to learn how the system works and how to manage the timing. With this system the results are accurate to the 10th of a second, and in some cases it came down to that for the rankings.”

Bair said there were 184 competitors in the various classes this year compared to a reported 156 last year, noting that the figure includes a few who ran the course twice. And as for spectators, based on parking, there were certainly more spectators on Saturday, perhaps double from a year ago, Bair said.

So a success in year two?

“Oh, yeah,” Bair said. “Last year people were excited about it, but it was still kind of new. This year a lot of people have said they’ll work harder and definitely do it next year. It definitely created a buzz, even more so than last year.”

The Bairs and crew tweaked the course somewhat from last year to this, and Bair said it remains up in the air whether the course will change for next year.

“Every year we want to make at least one minor change just to keep it interesting,” she said, “but we may not.

“People told us how important it was for the sentinels to be cheering them on. A big part of the course was having volunteers cheering people on.”

The Run the Dauntlet course had 14 obstacles this year, plus the 200-meter “Sprint” loop run in the middle. 

Jeff Peterson powers through the Andy Dufresne station during the Mustang Days Run the Dauntlet event Saturday.
David Peck photo

The course began with the Mount Dauntless rope wall climb at the start followed by the difficult Cliff Hanger, a rock climbing wall on one side of a panel and a hanging rope wall walk on the other.

The Cliff Hanger again claimed the most victims this year, Bair said, with 48 competitors failing to complete the station.

The course continued with the Jungle Fever metal bar-to-bar hanging course, the Lockness tube challenge, the Pig Roast rope shimmy, the Fly Trap net crawl, the Landscaper wheelbarrow course, the Stacked hay bale climb, the Sprint 200-meter run, the Equalizer balance course, the Andy Dufresne (like the “Shawshank Redemption”) watery tube crawl, the Trench muddy pond wade and hill climb, the Dauntlet Dunk tank and rope challenge, Slacker rope walk and the finale, the Pendulum rope swing over water, followed by the dash to the finish line.

After the Cliff Hanger, the Equalizer again proved to be the most challenging for exhausted competitors, who had to balance on inch and a half boards in a zig-zag course. The station dashed the hopes of 28 victims. Nine couldn’t complete the Jungle Fever, and eight failed to complete the Pig Roast, Bair said.

Elite Class winner Dominic Twomey said he enjoyed competing for the first time this year.

“What I did the best was probably anything having to do with climbing like the rock wall and the hay bales, and running around the cones (the Sprint),” the 2017 Rocky Mountain High School graduate said. “I tried to keep as much of my foot touching the board as possible (on the Equalizer), and when I reached the corner I took two or three seconds to regain my balance.”

He said he completed the Equalizer on his first try.

“My hardest obstacle was getting out of that big mud hole and up the hill (the Trench),” Twomey said. “Also tough was using the pole to get the rope (on the Pendulum). I was so tired at that point that I almost didn’t have enough strength in my arms to reach the rope.”

  • Here are the Elite Division top results:
  • Elite Men
  • 1. Dominic Twomey, 7:06
  • 2. Keith Grant, 7:12
  • 3. Alan Merritt, 7:20
  • 4. Craig Krantz, 7:32
  • 5. Kyle Leithead, 7:32
  • 6. Ryan Wilkerson, 7:36
  • 7. Curtis Lindgren, 7:42
  • 8. Tev Kelley, 7:44
  • 9. Johannes Bates, 8:16
  • 10. Craig Edwards, 8:36
  • Elite Women
  • 1. Brook Grant, 9:13
  • 2. Alena Gittlein, 10:40
  • 3. Katie Harshman, 11:03
  • 4. Valerie Crosby, 12:03
  • 5. Stephanie Metzler, 13:28
  • 6. Rebekah Franklin, 16:18
  • 7. Jill Allen, 17:07
  • 8. Madison Grandalen, 17:31
  • 9. Emilee Wachob, 19:04
  • Elite Junior Men
  • 1. Preston Nichols, 6:53
  • 2. Benjamin Nichols, 6:58
  • 3. Jace Grant, 7:39
  • 4. Cameron Carpenter, 8:45
  • 5. Quin Carpenter, 8:49
  • 6. Will Spann, 8:57
  • 7. Kannon Grant, 9:53
  • 8. Jeremy Holloway, 10:35
  • 9. Satchel Ginest, 10:56
  • 10. Daniel Merritt, 11:39
  • Elite Junior Women
  • 1. Kaitlyn Christensen, 10:12
  • 2. Ashlyn Grant, 12:23
  • 3. Anastyn Leithead, 12:35
  • 4. Danika Crumrine, 13:39
  • 5. Callie Shelton, 15:30

By David Peck