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Lokkens take the ‘Hard Charge’ challenge head-on...

Alicia and Steve Lokken pose with Alicia’s Hard Charge Women’s Division Championship trophy. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Running a 5K race on smooth, paved roads is usually a nice accomplishment for most runners and people looking to stay in shape.

But now add in a little extra mileage, along with 35 obstacles with names such as “The Knee Knocker,” “Hurdlin’ Hades” and “The Back Scratcher” and it becomes…well…much more challenging.

It was an experience a Detroit Lakes married couple was eager to take, with one of them even taking top honors in convincing fashion.

Steve and Alicia Lokken took on the “Hard Charge” obstacle race last Saturday at the Red River Fairgrounds in Fargo, which was the inaugural event of the running series in the area.

It was also the Lokkens first go at competing in an obstacle race and Alicia came out golden by winning the Women’s Division, after averaging a pace of 11:41 per mile and finishing with an overall mark of 49:01 on the 4.2-mile course.

Steve Lokken couldn’t race after suffering a back injury near the finish line during the preliminaries. He finished the course, but didn't qualify for the finals. 

But the experience was one which fits exactly in the Lokkens’ train-hard lifestyle.

“The challenge was what drew us to it and it was an absolutely fun competition to be in,” Steve said. “We both work out a lot and Alicia just won the Vergas 5K race, so we decided to try it.”

It was a good decision.

The Hard Charge event is a televised obstacle running series, which made Fargo the opener of its six-race season.

The Lokkens were informed of the event by Detroit Lakes Anytime Fitness owner Tim Teragana, who trains them and runs the boot camp Alicia partakes in on a weekly basis.

Neither knew exactly what the obstacle course was about, or if they were up for the muddy, sweaty and rigorous challenge.

“I didn’t go in thinking I would win it, but after I made the finals, I wanted it,” Alicia said.

The preliminary race was a good introduction to what competitors were in for.

There were 35 obstacles, highlighted (or lowlighted, depending on what one liked) by stinking, thick mud trenches.

The first obstacle made sure a racer wasn’t afraid of getting dirty and stinky.

“At the start, we had to run through this big, long trench and it was some of the stinkiest water I’ve ever smelled,” Steve said. “Then you were forced to crawl face down in it and that stinky water and mud would get in your mouth.”

After making it through the mud-filled trench, contestants had to crawl on their belly under some barbed-wire in some more stinky mud.

That obstacle was appropriately called the “Back Scratcher.”

“The people in front of you would be pushing mud and water in your face,” Alicia added.

With other obstacles such as the “Knee Knocker,” where runners climbed over five multi-level walls and the “Hurdlin’ Hades” challenge of jumping over a wall of fire, both Lokkens agreed the monkey bars were the most challenging.

If one’s wet hands slipped off the bars and they fell, a two-minute penalty was incurred.

Steve made it through, while Alicia gave two attempts but eventually was hit with the penalty.

“I saw Alicia just ahead of me on the monkey bars and I made it through,” Steve laughed.

“I thought I was doing pretty well after that.”

But Alicia made up ground on everyone and ran the course in 51:21 and qualified for the finals, which had the top 10 females from each of the three age divisions – same went for the male divisions.

Unfortunately for Steve, a back injury held him out of it, making him a bystander and Alicia’s biggest fan.

“I knew with how much she works out and how good her cardio is, she wasn’t going to get tired and had a great chance of winning,” Steve said.

After a four-hour break, the finals ensued, as all the finalists had to wear a helmet camera for the televised part of the race.

It wasn’t much of a competition on the women’s side, with Alicia storming out to a big lead over second-place finisher Kimberly Andersen of Fargo.

The 30-year-old Alicia won by nearly two minutes over Andersen and earned free admission and a stipend to race in the Hard Charge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, July 20.

“My cardio was key because I was able to start out fast and build a lead,” Alicia said.

“At the end, one of my calf muscles cramped up and I had to walk a little at the end.”

The mud was so thick on the champion Lokken, that even her husband couldn’t recognize her at the end.

“I couldn’t even tell it was Alicia near the finish line, she was so covered in mud,” Steve said.

“But when someone said it was the first female in, I knew it was her.”

Alicia’s training definitely propelled her to the Hard Charge title, which includes two days a week of boot camp training with Teragana and up to two workouts a day at Anytime Fitness.

Steve, who is 33 years old, works out almost just as much, and is up for another try at a Hard Charge course.

Alicia now has another target in her sights and that’s the 38-minute mark which was set by a woman in Wichita, Kan.

Both should be competing against each other in Cedar Rapids, July 20.

The Lokkens were also with a good contingency from Detroit Lakes, which included Teragana, Karen, Hannah and Heidi Neibert, Mike and Amy Nordby, Mike and Cara Frank, Jerrod Busker, Luke Riewer, Greg and Callie Johnson, Emily Payne and Joey Dolan.

Some Frazee natives also won the Co-Ed Team title, as Team Juggernauts outpaced the field. The team consisted of Denay Boyd-Reiser, Mackenzie Hamm, Skyler Jackson and Zach Olson.

If things keep going the way they are, it could be possible the Lokkens can become a mainstay in the obstacle racing circuit.

“If Alicia keeps on winning, we can’t say no,” Steve added.

The Hard Charge obstacle course race which was held at the Red River Fairgrounds, will be televised Friday and Saturday.

Saturday’s race, along with a similar one in Wichita, will be televised Friday on Comcast Sports Net and Fox Sports North.

It will also air on KVLY-TV (Channel 11) at midnight Saturday.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.