Thursday August 04, 2011 | 02:05 PM

I don't usually press my hand onto the hellishly hot stove top burner when I'm cooking dinner.

That's partly because I rarely cook dinner.

The opportunity to scar myself via kitchen appliance is hindered when the burners are buried under a one-inch layer of dust.

But I'm also not a glutton for punishment. I don't seek out physical agony. Naps, yes, but not agony.

Of course that doesn't explain my willing entry into Sunday River's Tough Mountain Challenge, which sent over 1,000 competitors up the steep inclines of mountain terrain. The challenge also included 16 obstacles, lots of rope, plenty of mud, a ravine, two culverts and an excessive amount of "up hill."

"It's a challenge, but it's doable." That's what Sunday River communications director Darcy Morse said. It's meant to be fun, she said. You won't die, she said.

Let it suffice it to say, the first 15 minutes were painful: a sprint up a steep mountain incline in full view of the raging afternoon sun. I wanted out.

But I was part of a four-team and wasn't going to be the first Tough Mountain deserter.

So on we clambered, over tires, under a spider web of ropes. We waded through mud, navigated dirt-covered declines, climbed walls, hoisted ourselves out of a ravine and ran hunch-backed through a culvert or two.

It was up hill and then down. Rocky tree-covered trail and then open sky and brittle grass. It was parched mouthed and then a snow-gun blast to the face.

It was arduous. It was endless. It was awesome.

One my teammates ended up aggravating a knee injury after jumping off the obstacle known as "Skull Candy." The medics planned on sending her down the mountain aboard a four-wheeler. But she rallied (because she's tough, but also because she didn't want to miss out on the slip and slide).

Even with our team's exhausted limp to the finish, we still placed 476 out of 674. Not bad.

For a speedy look at the course (on account of my being incredibly speedy), check out the helmet cam video: The race sold out in advance and this was only the second year, so interested folks better get on it early in 2012 if they want to punish themselves on the mountain at Sunday River.

FMI on the race and the obstacles: toughmountain.com

About the Author

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Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.

Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.

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