By Joseph Robertia
While waiting for their son, Brayden Holt, at the finish line of the Mud Run sponsored by New Beginnings Fitness Center in North Kenai, his parents discussed what type of finish he would have, in the way parents are oft to do, but with a bit of a twist.
“In high school he ran track and cross-country, but since he went off to college he hasn’t run as much, and he only decided to run this at 10:15 this morning,” said his mother, Kim Holt. “And, he has his good shirt on. I don’t know what he was thinking.”
While his mother worried about his wardrobe, his father was a bit more relaxed.
“Whatever he does, he has a good time in mind,” said Alan Holt. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he did a nosedive.”
In the end, the senior Holt’s prognostication wasn’t far from the mark. Upon completion of the five-kilometer event, Brayden cannonballed into the center of the mucky mess that awaited all the finishers of the Mud Run, sending waves of brown slop sloshing skyward.
A filthy finish was the point of the day, though, and what separated this event from other numerous running competitions around the Kenai Peninsula during the summer. In addition to large tire tunnels and other obstacles along the way, a 1,000-gallon, 20-by-50-foot mud pit had to be crossed to reach the finish line. Many competitors embraced their messy side and wholeheartedly sloshed their way through the slop to the end.
“This is a way to bring people out to get dirty and have fun for a good cause,” said Whitney Martin, who coordinated the event. “All the proceeds go toward multiple sclerosis research.”
While the event was an inaugural one for the fitness center’s new owner, Scott Hamann, it was wildly popular when put on in past years by the gym’s previous owners.
“The old owners did it for three years in a row and it kept doubling in size from year to year. We started out with only 30 people, but by the last year we had about 100 people entering, so this was something Scott wanted to continue to offer the community,” Martin said.
During the transition, the fitness center took a hiatus from the event last year, and as can be commonplace when skipping a season, the number of entrants for this year’s event had dwindled to about 20. The people in attendance definitely came to have fun, get dirty and, in some cases, get just plain weird.
In addition to the mud pit at the end, competitors were encouraged to come in costume. From woolly-headed werewolves to runners with neon green hair, it was an eclectic combination of creatures and caricatures that assembled to participate.
“I’m an elephant-clown-shark,” said Amanda Burg, of Soldotna. “An elephant because they love the mud, a clown
because it seemed so creepy, and a shark because I thought the fin would look cool sticking up as I swim through the mud.”
And swim she did. Burg went belly down into the putrid pool and wriggled her way through. Her elephant trunk and ears succumbed to the muddy scum, but the fin on her back stuck up skyward, staying high and dry.
While Burg proudly wore her costume, she admitted it came to her on a whim.
“I was in a six-kilometer run last night, so I only had two hours to come up with something, get all the stuff for my costume and get ready. I didn’t want to miss this, though. I love running and wanted to do something different than just the normal runs. This seemed like a good fit. I mean, who doesn’t like to get dirty?” she said.
While Burg’s costume was ornately mythical, the brother and sister combination of Ashley Cowie and Shawn Goff, of Kenai, came as something a little more recognizable in realty — at least, in reality TV. They came as characters from the TV show “Jersey Shore.”
In true Snookie style, Cowie wore a “guidette” shirt with the colors of the Italian flag, and was heavy-handed on her
makeup, including ruby-red lipstick, a hallmark of all the girls on the show. Goff came as Pauly D, wearing a tank-topped undershirt with “GTL” on it, representing an abbreviation for where and how the men on the show spend their day: “Gym, Tanning and Laundry.” Goff also did his best to emulate Pauly D’s spiked hairdo.
“I couldn’t get it quite right,” he said. “It’s harder than it looks.”
His hair may not have been perfect, but his run time was. Goff finished in first place, and he credited his success to channeling the vainness of the character he was emulating.
“I just kept thinking, ‘I gotta look good,’” he joked.
Looking good was the furthest thing from Dan Knoblach’s mind as he finished the mud run. On vacation from Hamilton, N.J., Knoblach entered the final obstacle with a face-down bellyflop. By the time he climbed out of the other end, he looked more mud than man.
“This was my first time, so I wanted to make it a memorable one,” he said. “Also, I paid my $40, so I wanted to get my money’s worth of mud.”
Mud Run winners:
Fastest man: Sean Goff, 26 minutes, 48 seconds.
Fastest woman: Giulianna Varriano, 29:59.
Fastest team: Guilianna Varriano, 29:59, and Kimberly England, 34:05.
Dirtiest: Amanda Burg, 38:52.
Cleanest: Lisa Nugent, 39:35.
Best Entrance into the Mud Pit: Erin and Brenden Boehme, 51:10.