About 500 children buzzed around the finish line of the Fun 2 Run Mud Run and Fun Dash medaled and muddied Saturday morning at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro after finishing an obstacle course.
Now in its fifth year, the mud run is a hit with kids and parents alike. Runners crawl through a mud pit, jump hay bales, cross balance beams as well as a river and then slide through the finish on a slip n’ slide.
With the help of approximately 70 volunteers, this community event provided not only a fun-filled morning and sense of challenge for the runners, but also a space to welcome and unite the young families of the area.
For many of these young children, completing the race gives a sense of achievement.
Charity Thomas, of Harrisonburg, waited in line with her son Becket who was competing in the mud run for the first time. At the finish line, Becket held up his medal and proudly announced that he conquered the balance beams.
“I didn’t even have to hold my arms out,” he exclaimed.
In many cases, nerves and obstacles alike required teamwork for the young runners.
Waiting for a glimpse of her granddaughter, Karen Tracy, of Waynesboro, said her 8-year-old granddaughter was nervous to run, but was comforted when another young girl took her hand. The two ran the duration of the course together.
For John Carver, of Staunton, the most difficult obstacle was the river.
“I had to cross it, but I almost slipped and face-planted,” Carver said.
His mother, Natalie Carver, said her family enjoyed the mud run and were glad her son had an opportunity to participate in such a race.
The purpose of the Fun 2 Run Mud Run and Fun Dash is to provide children with an opportunity to run, said organizer Amanda Reeve.
“When I started working with parks and recreation, we wanted to add a kids’ event to the series,” Reeve said. “Within the Run the Valley Series, there is the Mad Anthony Mud Run, Park to Park half-marathon, some 5k and 10k races as well as an 80s themed race that we started last year. So, we wanted to add something for the kids. From year one, it has just been a hit.”
The turnouts for this run have been high since its beginning five years ago, Reeve said. In the first year, there were 350 participants, followed by numbers in the upper 400s the second year and more than 500 in the most recent few years.
Preparing for and implementing an event of such magnitude, including set-up and managing hundreds of children through obstacles in open spaces, requires the help of more than 70 volunteers.
“It’s a lot of work,” Reeve said. “We have a great parks and recreation team that built obstacles and put them out as well as tons of great volunteers. We have over 70 volunteers from both Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences and then the whole Waynesboro Generals baseball team.”
Waynesboro Generals Assistant Coach Sean Connole said this was his first experience assisting with the mud run and his players enjoyed volunteering.
Connole helped man the river, which proved to be almost as messy as the slip n’ slide.
“We were helping with the part of the course down by the river,” Connole said. “Probably half the kids that were going through the river got a little a extra wet from that.”
Further supporting the communities’ children is the Fun 2 Run Mud Run and Fun Dash event’s beneficiary, the Blue Ridge Children’s Museum. The museum is designed to connect “families of young children with nature, culture, and community in the Central Shenandoah Valley.”
A portion of the run’s proceeds will go directly towards the museum. Reeve also said families could donate to the museum directly when they registered for the run.
“The cool thing about kids is they are happy and love it,” Reeve said of the race. “When they had to wait in a line, they did not care. A lot kids even have cousins and friends here; and, they meet new friends here and they do it together.”