Mud run mania: Participants ready to get dirty

MARQUETTE – Marquette Mountain Mud is hosting its third annual Mud Run Saturday on Marquette Mountain, with registration beginning at 8 a.m.

Participants can choose a two- or four-mile obstacle course, with proceeds benefiting youth programs and the ski patrol at the mountain.

Kristy Gollakner, co-director of the race and patrol director for the Marquette Mountain Ski Patrol, said funds will go to the purchase of new high-quality helmets for youth in the ski and snowboard community (in cooperation with the Marquette General Hospital Women’s and Children’s Center), a safety seminar where kids will be fitted for the helmets and also to the ski patrol for medical and other equipment to keep the public safe on the hills.

“Everyone involved in creating this race is a volunteer,” Gollakner said. “Many people don’t realize that the Marquette Ski Patrol volunteers their time all year on the ski hill…We are not paid employees. The same is true for our Marquette Mountain Mud. It is 100 percent created, managed, built and run by volunteers.”

While the path is the same as last year, the course consists of new and familiar obstacles, including a giant snow pile, a foam machine, a river crossing, cargo net and tire obstacles, mud pits and logs and a well-padded slip-and-slide, improved this year after feedback revealed participants had received some bumps and bruises last year, Gollakner said. There are 20-25 obstacles in the four-mile course and just under 20 in the two-mile.

“Our goal each year is to try to keep a selection of some of the same obstacles and improve them, but completely swap some out to keep it exciting,” she said.

Participants will ride a scenic chairlift to the start, where they will take off in assigned waves starting at 11 a.m. The courses follow a set of switchbacks and various obstacles along the 550-foot descent to the finish.

Teams of four to six as well as individuals will compete in male and female individual age brackets for about 16 prizes, consisting of mugs, hoodies, glassware and free registration for next year. There is also an optional costume contest for teams and individuals to compete in with two categories: cartoons and zombies. Pictures of costumes will be voted for online from Monday, June 30 to Saturday, July 5. The winners will be posted July 6 and will receive gift certificates to local businesses.

All ages, young and old, are encouraged to participate at their own pace, Gollakner said. The youngest age group is 10 to 17 and requires a parent waiver, while 10- to 15-year-olds also require an adult to run with them.

Children ages 4 to 9 can participate in the free children’s mud park.

So far, the number of registrants is approaching 400 this year, compared to just under 650 last year and over 200 the first year in 2012. Online registration costs $41 and is available until Wednesday at midnight; registration the morning-of costs $61.

The fee covers a commemorative T-shirt and bandana; free parking and bag check; the use of a timing chip during the race; medical support, aid stations and sanitary facilities on the course; and a snow gun or garden hose rinse at the finish.

Chair loading times and wave assignments are posted online and will be updated again on Friday at Check-in and late registration will take place from 8 to 10 a.m.

Arriving earlier rather than later makes the check-in process smoother and ensures early participants the correct T-shirt size, Gollakner said.

“It’s a fun challenge, and I’ve had people email me and say, ‘I’m not that good of a runner.’ But the beauty of this race is it doesn’t matter if you want to run or walk,” Gollakner said. “It’s about simply having fun.”