There are few things worth waking up early on a Saturday morning for: free food, softball with Solo cups, your friend’s inconveniently timed radio show, or perhaps, a grueling, multiple-hour obstacle course through the Arb.
The Gauntlet, a four-mile race and obstacle course through the Cowling Arboretum that began early on Saturday morning, was run for the first time last September. The course weaved through forest trails and even the Cannon River, ending with a pizza and protein shake reward.
“The Gauntlet was created as a way to welcome back returning students and introduce freshman to campus and to the Arb,” explained Sam Twito, former Carleton fitness trainer and primary organizer of the event. “Our belief was that once you ran four miles through the Arb, climbing over obstacles and sloshing though Spring Creek, you could return throughout the year to get outside, exercise, and relax.”
However, despite its widespread popularity last fall, the Knights’ Gauntlet will not take place this year. This year, no staff member has volunteered to fill the shoes of Twito, who played a crucial role in planning The Gauntlet last year.
“Sam possessed both the interest and the background to make the event possible,” said Nancy Braker, Director of the Cowling Arboretum. “He was really passionate about it.”
Mikki Showers, Director of Recreational Sports and Recreation Center Manager, explained that Twito began planning the event “at least four to five months before the race last year.” This year, however, the event fell off the radar of both student organizations and staff members until early September. When Carleton’s Student Wellness Advocates (SWAs) inquired about the Gauntlet and expressed interest in organizing the race, they learned their involvement was too late.
Showers backed the decision of P.E.A.R. (the Physical Education, Athletics, and Recreation Department) to postpone the Gauntlet given the extremely short time frame.
“We would hate to rush and put this together and then miss a very important key or safety step,” she explained.
Last year, the Knights’ Gauntlet attracted more than 150 participants including both Carleton students and faculty members. Most ran in teams, but a few individuals competed on their own. The Gauntlet was sponsored by nearly thirty Northfield businesses and organizations. Proceeds from the event benefited the Northfield Area Family YMCA who also helped staff the event.
Participants recall the event fondly.
“I had a lot of fun. My team wore overalls and didn’t take it too seriously. We got some exercise and had a blast,” said Anna Prsmark ’15, who ran the Gauntlet last year.
Hannah Sanchez ’16, another participant, remembers the Gauntlet as one of her favorite activities at Carleton.
“Although it was a race, there wasn’t an over competitive air. All of the teams were so spirited and fun. It was all smiles the whole time,” she said. “Knowing that the Gauntlet isn’t going to happen this year surprises me because I thought that it was such a success last year and can only hope that it will be brought back.”
While the PEAR Department couldn’t put on The Gauntlet this fall on such short notice, Showers hopes it will return next year.
Despite the setback this year, SWA Melanie Taub ’16 said, “The Gauntlet is definitely on [the SWAs] plans for the upcoming fall.”