By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
As if there weren’t already plenty to do on Oct. 8 – New Salem’s famous crafts festival is that weekend – three Rising Fawn sports enthusiasts have come up with a new twist on the benefit tournament: Dade County’s first mud run.
The Moonshine Mud Run, proceeds to benefit cancer battler Karen Gass, will begin at 9 a.m. on Oct. 8., at the Rising Fawn farm of Joey Street. Dade residents Ryan Faircloth and Mike Lawson have been working with Street for three months digging mud pits and building mud walls to make the 5K, 3.2-mile race possible.
What is a mud run? “It’s basically military-style obstacles, stuff you have to cross, climb over, climb under,” said Faircloth in a Monday telephone interview. “We’ve got 12 to 14 obstacles including mud pits, mud walls and mud crawls. We’ve got walls you’ve got to climb over, we’ve got hay bales you have to climb over, we have a pond you have to cross – so you’re going to get muddy.”
As explained by Faircloth, a mud run is a team sport based on military training, developed in the same enterprising spirit that turned boot camp into something one pays for as opposed to something one is dragged off to when one loses one’s grip on the porch rails.
At least in Oct. 8’s version, teams of five pay $200 to compete in the run, and Faircloth describes the ensuing competition as a bonding opportunity. “You start together and you have to finish together,” he said. “Basically, you have to stick with your buddies.”
If it sounds a little on the rugged side, Faircloth says not to worry: “A lot of athletes do it and they’re going to be the ones that just take off and try to win,” he said. “But there’s a lot of people that just do it for fun because it’s like being a kid again, getting all muddy and dirty.”
Still too Rambo for you? No fear: Faircloth says mud runs are also popular spectator sports. General admission to the event is $5, which entitles you to follow along the race course or gather around the obstacles and gawk as contestants clamber over, slither under or slog through. “People will get a kick out of just watching it,” said Faircloth.
Faircloth and his friend Mike Lawson have some history with mud runs: They had competed in one previously, loved it, and ever afterward yearned to stage one themselves. Finally they decided 2011 would be the year and had already begun working on the race course at Street’s when they learned that Rising Fawn’s Karen Gass, 35, had developed a rare chordoma cancer.
Ms. Gass must travel to Jacksonville, Fla., for treatment, said Faircloth, and sometimes her family allows her to go alone rather than spring for lodging costs there. “Funds are really tight right now,” he said.
So Faircloth and his friends decided to turn their mud run into a benefit for Ms. Gass and her family. They contacted the American Cancer Society and collected over $3,600 in sporting goods and gift certificates from corporate sponsors in the area to be auctioned off or given away at the event.
Ticket sales for the Moonshine Mud Run will begin at 7 a.m., and Faircloth says early registration guarantees you a free T-shirt. It will be an all-day event with music, entertainment and an additional team mud sled-pull free to mud run participants. First- and second-prize mud run winners will be awarded trophies.
Faircloth says 85-90 percent of all proceeds with stay locally to benefit Ms. Gass and her family, with the balance going to the American Cancer Society.
One burning question, of course, still remains: What does one wear to such an affair? Faircloth says attire is casual but the key is to remember you’re going to get muddy.
In the mud run he attended, he said, “I did learn that it’s best to duct-tape your shoes real tight to your feet.” In a particularly sticky area called the Mud Stomp, he said, people’s tennis shoes got sucked into the mire and they were obliged to race on barefoot.
To get to Oct. 8’s mud run, take the Rising Fawn exit off I-59, turn south on Highway 11 and go exactly four miles until you see Joey Street’s farm on the right. There will be signs and banners.
For more information, you may call Faircloth at (423) 432-4888.