When community race organizers wish for weather, they usually hope for mild temperatures and dry skies. On Saturday, Kamichia Spisak was happy to see rain.
“I had someone call me this morning and ask if we were still doing the Mud Run. I said, ‘Of course we are. This is the perfect weather for the mud run.’ We could have used more rain,” said Spisak, with Elite Health and Fitness in North Kenai.
Spisak was addressing a crowd of 45 racers ready to run, slip, slide, squish, hop, crawl and — for a few, anyway — belly flop their way through the second annual five-kilometer community Mud Run.
Racers met at Elite from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. to register and gear up in costumes or their preference of I-don’t-care-if-this-gets-dirty attire. By 11:30 the morning’s rain showers had let up, but remnants were evident in the puddles pock marking the parking lot and dirt race trail.
The race kicked off at noon, with SpongeBob Square Pants, Marilyn Monroe, some Rastafarians, a Disco king, an ’80s throwback and other runners heading out under a balloon arch to a live rendition of “Dirty White Boy(s) — and girls” by guest band Danger Pig.
Runners headed up the easement on the side of the highway to Nikiski Fire Station 1 and back to the fitness club, negotiating a gauntlet of obstacles meant to test their balance and their laundry detergent’s effectiveness.
They belly-crawled under a cargo net, hopped foot-to-foot through a tire field, windmilled across a balance beam and back again before coming to the finale at the finish line – a tunnel leading to a 4-foot dirt pile, which served as the launching pad to the 10- by-20-foot mud pit.
It was here the race was won or lost. The top three fastest finishers in each division — men, women and juniors — received prizes for their efforts, as did the best costume, but all other awards came as a result of the pit.
There were somersaults, flying leaps, a cartwheel, belly flops, back end flops, tackles, mud slinging and one case of all-out sisterly mud wrestling.
David Martin won best performance in the mud pit for an expertly executed flying belly flop. Sharon Miller, dressed as SpongeBob, took best entrance honors for her somersault splat. The cleanest finisher — probably the toughest title to nab — went to Jessica Summer.
The fastest finisher for the men was Terry Vrabec, in 26:17. The women’s winner was Lori Manion at 30:50. The fastest junior was Shayla Hudkins, 34:41.
The prize for most fans went to a group of five fishnet-draped runners. Best costume went to Rustin Hitchcock for his disco attire. And the award for dirtiest finisher went to Brandon Anderson, with help from his wife, Ashley, who tackled him and sent him sprawling face first into the muck.
“The mud pit brings out the crazy side of people,” Spisak said.
A group of four women from Soldotna ended up down and dirty in the pit — dirtier than some intended.
“They kept pushing me in,” said Haylee Swanson, who entered the race with her mom, Darcy Swanson; Becky Hansen; and Angela Massey.
“How could you not? People pay good money for that mud,” Hansen said. “I always wanted a mud bath.”
The mud was a specially prepared blend of sifted dirt and water from the Nikiski Fire Department.
“It was fun. I like to play in puddles and the mud and do the obstacles,” said Kim Jordan, of Soldotna. “It seems like all my life I’ve been told not to splash in the puddles. This is my chance to hit every one of them.”
Jordan was gunning for the best costume prize, with a sparkly white halter dress over her running clothes and a giant lopsided “beauty” mark drawn onto her face.
“It’s Marilyn Monroe’s workout attire,” she said.
“My friend did it last year in a banana suit and won best costume, so I thought I could get it this year because she’s pregnant and couldn’t compete.”
Spisak said this year’s race exceeded her expectations, with double the participation of last year.
“There are a lot of this type of races — five K’s. I wanted to do something a little more family friendly so that people could bring their kids to participate,” Spisak said.
The mud was meant to make things more interesting. It definitely drew interest on its own.
“The mud — are you kidding me?” said Hansen, when asked why she entered the race.