The second annual Warrior Challenge at Lake Barkley drew over 100 runners willing to take on the muddy course on Saturday, and in the process they raised over $2,500 for Operation Enduring Warrior.
The Warrior Challenge, which is hosted by the Kuttawa Tourist Commission, is a 5K (lengthened from last year's 3K) race that pushed participants to their limits as they worked to maneuver the weaving trails and conquer military-style obstacles.
The event was held in conjunction with Operation Enduring Warrior; a veteran-founded non-profit that works to honor, motivate, and empower wounded military and law enforcement veterans through physical, mental, and emotional rehabilitation.
At each run they collaborate with, OEW honors one or more local veterans by giving them a military escort through the course. At the Lake Barkley Warrior Challenge this year, those honorees were Chase Matthews of Eddyville and Joshua Keith of Fredonia.
Matthews joined the United States Army just a few short weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He was later deployed to Iraq, where his truck hit an IED, which severely injured him. He was in a coma for nearly two months after the event, he told WPSD, and lost both of his legs and sustained serious damage to his left arm.
Matthews was joined during the Warrior Challenge by his wife, Jennifer, and their children, Sarah and Owen.
Keith served nearly eight years in the United States Air Force before being medically discharged after a lumbar spinal fusion operation in 2014, according to Operation Enduring Warrior. His body rejected the titanium hardware used in the surgery, and he has battled the pain to regain his physical abilities every since.
"I went from not being able to put on my own shoes or hold my newborn daughter after surgery to completing the 10 mile Tough Mudder obstacle race this year as well as my first Operation Enduring Warrior Challenge," Keith told OED.
"I hope to continue to push the limits of my recovery and my condition, and to help others overcome physical and psychological obstacles in their path to a better life."
Keith was joined on the course this year by his wife, Sable, and their daughter, McKenna.
Runners participated in three separate divisions for the race: Elite, open, and team.
Elite runners were allowed no help through the course, and the top finishers took home cash prizes.
This year's Men's Elite Winner was Zachary Boop of Petersburg, Indiana, and the Women's Elite Winner was Brenna Calvert of Hillsboro, Kansas.
To learn more about Operation Enduring Warrior, visit enduringwarrior.org.