COLUMBIA — Threats of snakes, sticks, used toilets and mud didn’t stop about 750 participants from running the Epic Mud Run I on Saturday at Midway Travel Center.
Teams and individual racers slouched through 2.5 miles of the muddy course covering hills, hay barrels, port-a-potties, mud swamps, Slip 'N Slides and tire holes.
Some racers got into the nontraditional spirit of the event by dressing in costumes such as swim briefs, colored socks and MU-themed sombrero hats.
The individual early sign-up fee for the race was $39, and early team sign up cost $105, according to the Epic Mud Run website. Children’s Miracle Network and MU’s Children’s Hospital were the beneficiaries of the event, said MU's coordinator with Children’s Miracle Network, Michelle Kemp.
Some of the registration costs and all funds collected from the $2 parking fee were donated to those charities, according to the Epic Mud Run website.
Joe Bechtold, general manager of Midway Travel Center, the home of the travel channel show "Truck Stop Missouri," was on site during the race with the travel channel crew. Bechtold and his employees participated in a leg of the race as travel channel crews filmed.
The mud run was a production of Ultramax Events. Mark Livesay, owner of the Columbia business The Starting Block, owns Ultramax Events.
"We've been doing races for 12 years, mainly focusing on running, and triathlons," Livesay said.
Ultramax Events is responsible for Columbia’s Maxtrax, Duzou, Trizou and Turkey Trax races. Ultramax began preparing for the Epic Mud Run three months ago, Livesay said.
Ultramax staff ran through a mud field to muddy the course before letting participants begin the race. Racers finished by sliding down a Slip 'N Slide, running through used port-a-potties, which had their backs cut out, and army-crawling through a mud swamp.
People from across Missouri came to participate in the course. Rock Bridge High School students Annie Rumpf, Kathleen Oglesby and Tristan Welsh formed a team to participate in the race after hearing about it at Wilson’s Beach Club.
Most racers seemed to enjoy the mud bath, but the race had a special connection to those relying on its charity partner, MU's Children’s Hospital.
Renee Luebbering of St. Thomas came to watch the race with her daughter, Cassidy-Rae, who was born 10 weeks prematurely, spent 51 days in the neonatal intensive care unit and has been hospitalized seven times. Luebbering said she is thankful to the children's hospital and Children's Miracle Network.
"I don’t feel like 'thank-you' is enough for saving my daughter's life and letting her be here today," Luebbering said.
Race participant Kaleigh Summers summed up the day and her reason for coming.
"It's nice to get muddy for a good cause," she said.