Retired Army master sergeant Phil Kelley prepared himself for the 2017 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Down and Dirty Mud Run Saturday outside Soldiers Field House on Lewis Main. Not wanting to have his shoes lost in the mud, he double tied his laces tight.
“Trying to find your shoe in the mud is tough,” Kelley said.
The majority of the more than 800 mud runners found themselves losing their shoes, especially during the Army crawl portion about halfway through the 5K course. Some lost one; others lost both, regardless of how many knots their shoelaces had.
“I triple-tied my shoes; my left shoe only came off twice,” said Staff Sgt. Huber LaGrou of the Joint Force Headquarters for the Washington National Guard on Camp Murray.
The runners were released in waves to allow people to have time traversing the course. Many runners wore the bright orange race shirts they picked up at registration, most of which had mud splattered all over.
Coming in with anything colored is likely going to match the mud and dirt.
“I’ve seen the pictures (beforehand),” said Bonnie Longie, a retired Air Force master sergeant. “The more mud the better.”
Participants saw a change of direction from last year’s Mud Run with runners starting next to the Evergreen Chapel and then going around the trails behind Soldiers Field House. Participants who have attended past Down and Dirty Mud Runs agreed there seemed to be a lot more mud in this year’s event.
“The one they did last year was pretty dusty and dry,” said Sgt. Hulubante Amare of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command. “The fact that it rained a lot this week helped a bit.”
Crews kept the 13 to 15 mud-related obstacles hydrated throughout the week and even came at 5 a.m. the day of the event. The work actually started weeks ago with the “grand finale” — an approximate 20-foot deep trail that was filled with a foot of water.
Aaron Jones, director of JBLM Sports, Fitness and Aquatics, said the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s outdoor maintenance team was to be thanked for making the walls on both ends easy to run up and down without tree limbs and rocks.
“They’ve been out two, if not three weeks running excavators, dropping hay bales, moving tires and dropping dirt,” Jones said. “Not enough kudos go out to them.”
Plenty of people certainly tried to run the man-made muddy lake, lifting their knees high to make it through. Some chose to swim for it.
“(The volunteers) were like ‘go big or go home,’ so I dove in,” said Lance Muhonen from Greenville, S.C.
The rest of the course featured a tire trail, mucky bars and dirt walls during the 5K run that were a hit with adults and children who ran with their parents and/or guardians.
“It was fun to see her dig deep and be physically challenged,” said Julie Rude from Maple Valley, who brought her daughter Ivah, 10. “It was a little hard at times, but it was great.”