Saturday, July 25, 2009

Run 5.5+ miles in a Marine's shoes

If you and three tough friends are up for a little punishment and a whole lotta mud this weekend, you might be interested in a different kind of race going next Saturday morning out at Belmont Abbey College.

It's the third annual Marine Mud Challenge, and it's ... well, let's just let event director Aaron Harper explain.

Q. What is this thing, Aaron, in a nutshell?

5.5-plus miles of on- and off-road running with 30-plus obstacles and physical challenges -- and, of course, a 700-foot-long mud pit. The event is open to the public for teams of four to compete; teams can also participate in a noncompetitive "fun run." [Note: No single runners can participate; you must have a team of four.]

Q. Tell me about all the obstacles. What's the toughest one to get over/under/around?

The obstacles are different types of walls that the runners will have to get over -- the highest being the A-Frame wall, which is about eight feet tall, and we have a ladder wall that is about the same height, except it's in the mud pit. The physical challenges range from push-ups to mountain climbers to duck walks.

Q. What do you recommend participants wear?

Whatever they know can be trashed as soon as the race is over. Some of the back woods trails are one person wide and there are a lot of pricker bushes back there. And, of course, the mud pit isn't 100 percent mud and water. There are small rocks that make their way into the mud, which can tear clothing. We've had plenty of teams run in shorts and shirts, and we've had military and law enforcement teams run in cammies and boots.

Q. How muddy could someone potentially wind up?

Completely -- and thoroughly -- muddy. Red clay mud, at that.

Q. What's a respectable finishing time?

It's hard to say. Each year we've held the event -- this being our third -- we've made the course longer and tougher. If I had to guess, maybe 45 minutes to an hour.

Q. Can you give me a little history? Who came up with the idea for this race?

Marines have been doing mud runs since there were Marines. The idea of this event and our other events is to educate the public about what it takes to physically be a Marine. What most people don't understand is that an event like this is similar to what Marines do several times a week. A number of years ago, some Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif., decided to organize a mud run that was open to the public. ... They sell out every year for two weekends in a row. There are really that many people out there who want to see what it takes to train like Marines. How it came here: About three years ago, we -- retired, former, reserve and active Marines -- decided to form a coordinating council, Carolina Marines, that would organize events like mud runs, buddy challenges, and ultimate team challenges as a way of raising funds and awareness for combat-injured Marines. Our first mud run was in 2007. [Note: Last year, more than 600 runners took part.] Most of the participants signed up this year are previous runners -- they want to be yelled at and get muddy. There are a number of Marine Mud Runs across the country, including a great one in Columbia, S.C., and another in Roanoke, Va. Next year, there will be a Marine mud run in Winston-Salem. We have a blast putting them together and the runners have a great time -- all for a great cause of course.

Q. What makes Belmont Abbey a good place to host the race?

Belmont Abbey has an incredibly beautiful campus, but they also have a good amount of wooded areas between Exits 26 and 27 off I-85. The college also doesn't have a problem with us digging a mud pit on their property, which most people do since it's kind of messy. The campus staff and the Monks have been very supportive of our endeavors there, and it gives them some great exposure as well.

Q. How exactly will the proceeds from the race be used?

100 percent of funds raised -- meaning no staff get paid -- are used to help the families of Marines and Sailors injured in the line of duty. We also use some of the funds to help the families of local Marines through their family services coordinator.

Q. Will there be Marines out there participating and volunteering?

We will have Marines running in the race, but most will be volunteering to yell at -- a.k.a. motivate -- the participants.

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Interested? Many, many more details are available on the Web site: Click here to check it out. Cost is $25 per team member or $100 total, although if you're military, in public service, in college, or on a youth team, it's $20 each or $80 total. Registration closes at 8 p.m. Thursday. The registration page can be accessed here.


Anonymous said...

We did a version of this on Lejeune called the E course. While some of the events will be different, it was still a blast, and this from a guy who hated running while he was in the Corps. I would expect chest deep mud in places and a lot of fun even when your body says you're tired. If I was still in state I would so do this.

Plus the event gives money to combat injured vets. Semper Fi.

Anonymous said...

There are many great things about this event. I volunteered last year. There is a rule that all four members of each team have to cross the finish line together. Goes back to not leaving a buddy left behind if injured from the military. From a viewing point, the mud pit is the best place to watch. Don't get too close, or you will get splashed! Teams are made up of all ages and sexes. There are also coed teams. These folks take this competition very serious! Great event for a wonderful cause.

Anonymous said...

I am signed up for this but am a little worried now --- thank goodness for the 'fun run'! Any tips from civilian mud run survivors?

Anonymous said...

I saw a lot of the participants last year wear swim goggles when they were in the mud pit. The water is mud brown and no telling what might splach into your eyes. Wear clothes that you would not mind throwing away after going through the mud pit. Take a change of clothes. There are showers to wash the mud off before you leave.

Rachel said...

i'm competing in the mud run on saturday and am a littel nervous about puking =) nah i'm just going out and give it my all. but my team is doing the competative run. why? i don't know but whatever. look for us The Crown Town Strangers