Collaboration Makes the 2017 Tuff Howler a Success

On Oct. 26 teams of two and four arrived to centennial campus dressed in costumes, ready to compete in the annual Halloween-themed obstacle course race. The Tuff Howler brings friendly competition to students by combining fall festivities will mental and physical challenges.

The event, coordinated by three staff members, attracted 130 participants. There were 28 four-person teams and 9 two-person teams.

The Tuff Howler is an event that coordinates efforts between the departments of fitness, sports programs, and outdoor adventures. “Merging expertise from the different program areas helps make this special event successful” stated Nelson Santiago, sports programs coordinator. Combining staff from different program areas allowed each to add knowledge in a way that the other two could not.

Santiago, along with Leigha Krick, group fitness coordinator, and Nathan Williams, assistant director of outdoor adventures devoted over three months of planning to make the event a success. Even up to the morning before the event the group biked the route to ensure it was ready and safe for participants. The responsibilities of planning and logistics were shared among the three.

Outdoor adventures facilitated the canoeing logistics of the race, sports programs coordinated the cycle team to lead and follow race participants and fitness helped plan the physical challenges. Santiago, Krick and Williams faced the challenge of balancing their everyday responsibilities while striving to make the event a success.

Scheduling student employees was one of the most challenging aspects in planning the event. “The facilities, intramural sports, and group fitness programs still operate as normal making it difficult to schedule additional employees to work during that time period,” stated Santiago. After sending out emails requesting employees to volunteer to work outside their normal schedule, student staff from every University Recreation program were represented that evening.

The race route remained the same from the previous year, but new obstacles were added based off of feedback from previous participants. “All the obstacles, including the lake portion, will be different. We have added different elements to the race.”

These obstacles gave participants a few extra challenges to overcome and bond as teammates. Hoa Tran, a senior in polymer and color chemistry stated, “my favorite part was the canoeing because it was unexpected.” To Tran, the hardest part was the bear crawl and carrying the pumpkin along the race course. Multiple race participants mentioned it would be beneficial for future participants to prepare by doing cardio leading up to the event. Laura Hebard, participant and UREC employee, laughed and light heartedly added, “it would be wise to not eat chipotle beforehand.”