Event scheduled for Aug. 30 at Dallas County Fairgrounds

Bret and Jessie Perry, a married couple from Adel, are organizing the inaugural Coon River Army Challenge that will take place Saturday, August 30 at the Dallas County Fairgrounds in Adel.

The event is a three-plus mile adventure race with mud, ice and other obstacles. Active duty Army drill sergeants will be motivating participants during the challenge.

Bret is a 1997 A-D-M graduate and Station Commander for the Urbandale Armed Forces Career Center. He was a sniper in the 173rd Airborne Infantry, spending time in Italy and 15 months on tour in Afghanistan.

Jessie is a 2003 A-D-M grad and marketing director for the challenge. She and Bret have three children and have lived in Italy, South Carolina and Cedar Rapids before moving back to Adel last fall.

In 2012 while living in Cedar Rapids, Bret and few of his friends had the idea to organize a 5k run, but eventually created an adventure challenge due to his military background and numerous other 5k runs scheduled in the area.

The couple organized the Squaw Creek Army Challenge, which is still held annually in Marion, just east of Cedar Rapids. The success of that event led to the creation of this year’s Coon River Army Challenge in Adel.

"Our first year (2012) we had 1,100 runners and we were told to be surprised if we got 300," said Jessie. "We had a great turnout so we decided to do it again in 2013 and we had 3,400 people. Not all runners, I’d say about 1,000 were spectators. All of the money went to Linn County Conservation, so they built a walk/run path and playground facility. "When we moved back to Adel we thought we should do a run here and see if we get any interest. It’s for all fitness levels and ages. You don’t have to run the whole thing. We just want you to finish and have fun." Proceeds from the non-profit Coon River event will go to Hope for Warriors, a charity for post-911 veterans and families. If successful this year, Jessie feels proceeds from future events could be distributed locally.

"If we have a good turnout this year, definitely we’ll want to bring it back," Jessie said. "We might give back to something locally. This was just our charity decision for this year."

Marketing efforts have targeted central Iowa and Jessie is optimistic that the event can draw 1,000 people.

"The first year is always the hardest, getting the word out. I would love to see 500 but my goal is 1,000 people," she said.

Although an Army challenge, the event is geared toward all ages and all fitness levels.

"I want people to know that it’s a fun event and you don’t have to be in tip-top shape. My 60-year-old mom did it last year and had fun," said Jessie.

Several awards will be presented at the event including largest team and most spirit among others.

Local businesses and organizations will be in attendance like Hy-Vee, Lazer 103.3 radio and the Adel Fire Department will be hosing off competitors at the finish line. The Coon River Army Challenge is still looking for volunteers to help with the event. The group will at the Adel Sweet Corn Festival and driving an official Army Humvee in the parade.

Cost is $40 with every participant receiving an event shirt, finisher medals, which are dog tags, and a packet of coupons and goodies.

A 20 percent discount is also being offered to anyone who had lost registration money from a Hard Charge Mud Run event. Hard Charge went out of business this year and will not offer refunds to existing registrations. For more information and to register, visit: www.facebook.com/crarmychallenge.com.