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There Will Be Mud


Mud Races - Mud Runs

Story by Jason D. Martin

Photos courtesy of Whatcom EventsMud runs are good, not-so-clean fun for the whole family.I’m not huge on running, but I’ve always been adventurous – mountain climbing, backcountry skiing and exploring odd places. A friend of mine suggested I might enjoy a mud race.

Mud races – or mud runs – are a form of adventure race. They tend to be 5K endeavors on rural obstacle courses. Racers usually have to climb over challenges like cargo nets or slick walls shaped like a half-pipe, slide under logs or squirm through pipes. In all of these events, there is one universal truth:

Mud Races - Mud RunsTHERE WILL BE MUD. Early last fall, our whole family participated in the Dirty Farm Trek, a mud race put on by Bellingham’s VZ Foundation at the Deming Log Show Grounds. The 5K was composed of several challenging obstacles, but it also included a trivia component and required participants to carry an egg the distance of the course without breaking it. It was a fantastic first experience in mud running, and not too physically demanding. It was clear that any athletic person could participate in a 5K mud race like this.

The Dirty Farm Trek will not take place in 2013 due to logistical issues. The Muds to Suds race, hosted by Whatcom Events, will be held August 24 and 25 at Hovander Homestead Park, a preserved farm from the early 1900s with more than 350 acres of land along the Nooksack River in Ferndale. The race will include more than 22 spectator-friendly obstacles and seven major mud pits, attract up to 3,400 participants and will have tons of fun activities surrounding the main event, like an option to camp, beer and root-beer gardens, a costume contest, a bonfire and a barbeque.

“The soil conditions at Hovander are like Hershey’s syrup and people are going to get dirty,” said Pete Coy, president of Whatcom Events. “These races are a chance for adults to act like kids, with their kids.”

The Muds to Suds race will have heats specifically designed for children ages eight and older, but kids will also be able to run with their parents if they want to. Not just for families, the race is open to individuals and teams as well. Regardless of how they run, racers are encouraged to dress up in costumes.

“There are three or four national circuits,” said Mel Monkelis, executive director of Whatcom Events. “They bring in people from the outside and run their events. We wanted to do something that kept everything local.”

It’s no surprise that the county behind the creation of Ski to Sea, Bellingham Traverse, and Dirty Dan Piano Race is hosting an event like Muds to Suds. Events like this feel like Whatcom County. We have a population that thrives on off-the-wall competitions and “keeping it local.”

Adult entries in Muds to Suds are only $35, compared to $85 and up at some of the national mud runs. Another benefit of keeping it local at Muds to Suds is that spectators can walk to any obstacle and watch friends and family as they take on the muddy challenges.

Certainly, there are other mud runs in the Pacific Northwest this summer. Most of them are focused around the Seattle area, though there is a large event up in Whistler.

The big boys of the national circuits are the Warrior Dash, the Spartan Race and the Tough Mudder. Many would argue that the Tough Mudder is the most difficult of all the mud runs. Participants run nearly 13 miles and deal with obstacles that include everything from live wires that will shock you as you move past them, to pools of ice water, to a 100-foot long stretch of monkey bars over water.

All of the races have a team focus, with a goal of building camaraderie among participants. But the circuit races often tout the fact that the courses were designed by the military and that the obstacles are extremely difficult. The big mud races require participants to put a great deal of time and energy into training.

On the other hand, 5K local events provide a perfect place to experiment with mud races and to have fun. They provide user-friendly obstacles, generally allow children and are community oriented.

Before attending the Dirty Farm Trek, my wife was concerned that she wasn’t up for a mud race. After I reminded her that she runs faster than me, she finally decided to participate. At the end of the race, I couldn’t wait to do another one … and neither could she.

We both expect to get very dirty at the Muds to Suds event this summer. X

Jason Martin is a professional mountain guide and a freelance writer.

Local and Semi-Local Mud Runs 2013

Survivor Mud Run

June 8

Carnation, WA

survivormudrun.comTough Mudder

June 22 & 23

Whistler Olympic Park, B.C.

toughmudder.comWarrior Dash

July 20

Bonney Lake, WA

warriordash.comMudd, Sweat and Tears

August 17

Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Vancouver Island, B.C.


Muddy Buddy

August 18

Issaquah, WA


August 24 & 25

Hovander Park, Ferndale, WA

mudstosuds.comRun for Your Lives

August 24

Olympia, WA

runforyourlives.comTough Mudder

October 5 & 6

Black Diamond, WA


mud-race, muds-to-suds, running