Shawnee Peak is getting ready to stage what is believed to be the hardest race of its kind in New England, an authentic military-style obstacle course race.

And the staff at the Bridgton ski area remain a little fuzzy on how this gnarly event came to be or where the Shawnee Peak Challenge will go from here. But they also like that.

“We’re just the host. It’s a Boston firm full of young guys who have military backgrounds. I’m still trying to get my head around who this is appropriate for. Is it for guys who do field training, or me who runs a couple of times a week?” wondered Melissa Rock, Shawnee Peak spokesperson.

According to the owners of Ruckus Sports in Boston, who are staging the race, it is for anyone who wants a challenge.

“We wanted something new, compelling and different so we started researching mud runs in the United States. We wanted to combine that with elite fitness training around obstacle courses. These mud runs in the last 12 months have really taken off. So we decided to combine them with military methodology around obstacle courses,” said Liam Brenner, co-owner of Ruckus Sports.

This is the first military-style race for Ruckus Sports, which has staged marathons and road races. But Brenner said it’s the beginning of a nationwide series.

With the experience of staff members who were Green Berets and Navy SEALs, Brenner said his company can put together an authentic military obstacle course with elements designed specifically for the terrain at Pleasant Mountain.

There will be 14-foot cargo nets, tires to run through and wooden walls to ascend among a total of 15 obstacle stations.

On race day there also will be a half-dozen military coaches who will help motivate participants up and over the obstacles, same as they would in military training.

“We are trying to create the most authentic experience you can have without it being a paramilitary experience. People still need to go and have fun, that’s the other piece of it,” Brenner said. “The idea is to create a unique experience.”

Brenner hopes in the first year at Shawnee Peak to draw 1,000 to 3,000 people. Then a second event this fall will take place on Nov. 13 in Boston.

And then Brenner hopes to build on success in New England and launch a nationwide series in 2011 that will draw as many as 5,000 to 7,000 participants to venues around the country.

But Brenner said Shawnee Peak, with the beauty of the White Mountains and lakes region around it, is the perfect location to roll out the first installment of this unusual challenge.

The folks at Shawnee Peak don’t know what to expect, but agree with that much.

“It will be easier for some people and harder for some, but getting through the whole thing will be a major undertaking for most people,” Rock said. “What I like about it, it’s a big challenge but you don’t need a bike or kayak. Just whatever kind of footwear you want and your guts. It’s about gumption.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

[email protected]