"To get muddy and have fun."
Those were the goals for a group of Tauranga Intermediate students who took part in Tauranga's Junior Tough Guy and Gal Challenge this week.
The event, which takes primary and intermediate-aged children through a muddy obstacle course as part of New Zealand's biggest mud run series, was the first for organisers Event Promotions' since the initial Covid-19 lockdown. The second event of the series is scheduled for Rotorua on August 24 and 25.
The course for Year 3 and 4 pupils was 1.5km, and children in Years 5-8 completed a 3km trail of mud pits, tunnels, hurdles, a climbing frame and more.
It was Tauranga Intermediate 13-year-old Daniel McLean's fourth time completing the muddy challenge.
"I love going back and doing it."
This year, he did the challenge with his school mates Amir Bain-Calvert, 13, Ethan Lewis, 12, Logan Bell, 13, and Ethan Richardson - all of whom had the same goal of sticking together, "to get muddy and have fun".
Stephanie Nielsen from Event Promotions said 600 children registered online and 50 entered on the day.
"It felt wonderful, quite surreal but very special to be back doing what we love [running events] after a hiatus of nearly six months."
Numbers were down from last year's inaugural event, which she put down to the impacts of Covid-19, but the group that travelled furthest to Tauranga to compete were children from Tolaga Bay Area School in Gisborne.
Keanu Reedy was among that group and on top of travelling the furthest, he also completed his 3km the fastest, being the first to cross the finish line on the day.
St Mary's Catholic School Year 3 pupil Spencer McIntosh was excited to have finished his first Junior Tough Guy and Gal Challenge, which he found hard but a lot of fun.
The 7-year-old was looking forward to competing in future events.
A group of Tauranga Primary School students crossed the finish line visibly muddy, evidence of plenty of playfulness being had throughout the obstacle course.
Year 6 student Ryan Blair, 11, was all smiles as he crossed the finish line, saying the challenge was a fun way to spend a morning.
Max Harrison, 10, and Kaleb Barr, 10, travelled from Cambridge to take part in the event. It was Max's fourth time entering the challenge but the Hautapu School students enjoyed every part of it and planned to do more.
Upcoming Junior Tough Guy and Gal Challenge events:
Rotorua: August 24, 25.
Hamilton: September 9, 10, 11.
Auckland: September 16.
Wellington: October 14, 15.
Palmerston North: October 19.
Hawke's Bay: October 21.