About a year ago, Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie Balthazar was recruited to a team to run in a mud run at Fort Campbell, Ky. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for her, and she vowed she would never do it again.
That mud run moratorium ended Saturday. Balthazar, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the patient administrative division at Madigan Army Medical Center, recruited her own team to participate in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Down and Dirty Mud Run Saturday outside the Soldiers Field House.
Balthazar got service members, contractors and civilian employees in her department to do something different on a very sunny Saturday.
“It’s about getting them to do something they never thought they could do or said they wouldn’t do,” Balthazar said.
There were a lot of new faces at the event; more than 1,000 people ran in this year’s JBLM Down and Dirty Mud Run.
Among new participants was a trio of Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division — Sgt. Clint Barker, Sgt. Dalton McClung and Spc. Jerald Roberto.
Barker heard about the Down and Dirty Mud Run from one of his friends who participated last year. After seeing the flier for this year’s event, Barker told McClung and Roberto they were going.
“We don’t get to do a lot of new (activities) to broaden our horizons (at other bases),” Barker said, who was previously stationed at Camp Casey in South Korea.
The beginning of the course had a little mud, but people got their money’s worth halfway through. McClung said his favorite spot was going over and under the logs near the finish line.
“(The course had) lots of deep holes to run and crawl through,” he said. “It was a ton of fun, and I would definitely encourage as many people as possible to go next year.”
The positive reviews meant a lot to the team that worked for weeks to prepare the course. Josh Adams, the manager at Sheridan Sports and Fitness Center, was the lead coordinator for the Down and Dirty Mud Run.
He enlisted the support of staff at other fitness centers on the installation with experience running similar events on the base. One of them was Mallory Loy, manager at Wilson Sports and Fitness Center.
The work included rebuilding some of the obstacles, redigging some of the holes and clearing the path of branches and leaves that fall over the Mud Run course over the year.
“We’ve done 12-hour days,” Loy said. “(Friday) was a 16-hour day for both of us.”
Although the Mud Run attracted several new faces, there were plenty of returning participants who are seen at just about every run on JBLM — including retired Master Sgt. Phillip Kelley.
Kelley’s motivation is not just about the fitness aspect. He said a lot of his joy comes from seeing the other runners he’s met while participating in JBLM runs for the last seven years. With that in mind, Kelly said he’s planning to be at JBLM’s Freedom Run July 21 and the JBLM Pacific Pathways Sprint Triathlon Aug. 4.
“It’s hard to break that habit when you do them all the time,” Kelley said.