Tough as Nails Urban Challenge Unveils Course, Obstacles Planned for Downtown Wheeling

Photo by Scott McCloskey Tough as Nails Urban Challenge organizer James Gibbons walks atop the flood wall along Wheeling’s Heritage Trail, where the obstacle dubbed the “Corporate Ladder” will be located. The challenge begins at noon Sunday, May 26, as part of the Larger Ogden Wellness Weekend.

WHEELING — It’s not often that you climb 120 steps only to be met at the top by a “meat grinder.”

And talking about steps, when’s the last time you ran up more than 300 after running, climbing and crawling for nearly 4 miles?

These obstacles and 17 others will be part of the inaugural Tough as Nails Urban Challenge, set for Sunday, May 26, in Wheeling. The event is part of the larger Ogden Wellness Weekend, which kicks off Saturday, May 25, with the 43rd running of the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic and also includes the Ohio Valley Trail Partners’ Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour on Sunday, May 26.

The Tough as Nails, set for a noon start, will showcase obstacles sure to test even the fittest competitor’s mettle. The obstacles over the 6-mile course are being planned and constructed by the staff at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, which annually puts on the “Mud on the Mountain” event.

The competition also will provide participants with a unique perspective of Wheeling, organizer James Gibbons said, noting the course will go through areas of the city that many people never encounter.

“From the abandoned Chapline Street tunnel to the Ogden Printing Center warehouse to 400 steps climbing through East Wheeling, Tough as Nails is going to showcase parts of the city many didn’t realize existed,” Gibbons said. “This event is not going to be just about the competition itself, but also providing a new perspective of the urban layout of downtown Wheeling and its surrounding neighborhoods. That’s what make it such a unique opportunity.”

But it’s the steps climbing through East Wheeling at mile 4 — the obstacle is called “Stairway to Heaven” — that will separate the field.

“Mile 4 is really going to test the endurance. Climbing those steps, that’s where training and fitness really will come in,” Gibbons said.

Tough as Nails, sponsored by The Health Plan of West Virginia, also will be fan-friendly, as spectators will have an easy walk to at least half of the obstacles.

“The Tough as Nails also takes the best part of the Ogden Half Marathon – the 1-mile downhill finish – and adds in some really challenging obstacles,” Gibbons added. “People are going to be amazed at what they see at the end. The finish line at 14th Street really is going to be awesome.”

The Tough as Nails is only part of what is set to be Wheeling’s kickoff to the summer on Memorial Day weekend.

First up in the Ogden Wellness Weekend lineup on May 25 is the Ogden Half Marathon Classic, one of the toughest half marathons in the nation, going 13.1 miles from its start at 14th and Main streets.

Also set for May 25 is the Ogden Newspapers 5k Run & Walk, the Ogden Fun Run, and the Ogden Tiny Tot Trot, sponsored by Ohio Valley Parent.

The festivities on May 26 begin with the bike tour, followed by the Tough as Nails event.

But the Wellness Weekend is about more than just the competition — it’s also about community. Both on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, Wheeling’s riverfront will take on a festive atmosphere following the events of those respective days. There will be live music, a beer garden and multiple food vendors as participants and their friends and families enjoy the scenic views of the Ohio River.

For more information on the Tough as Nails, the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic or the Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour, visit


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