THUNDER BAY -- Mud runs are quickly becoming an almost mandatory rite of passage for fitness enthusiasts.
Candace Begin, 46, checked completing a mud run off her checklist on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, completing the Conquer the Fort Mud and Obstacle Run at Fort William Historical Park.
She started working out with Unleashed Fighting Fitness last fall and decided to follow the lead of thousands before her who tackled Tough Mudder style events.
“Over that time period I’ve lost 45 pounds and feeling awesome so hey, why not,” Begin said of what compelled her to rise to the challenge.
The seven-kilometre course weaved around the perimeter of Fort William Historical Park, starting near the stage area.
Athletes battled their way through mud pits and feats of strength as they trekked through the course, including two instances where they had to cross a 150 metre stretch of the Kaministiquia River.
Ashley Posmituk ran her second mud run and is hooked. She said she plans to do many more in the future.
“It’s just fun to get dirty and work together and have a good time while being fit,” she said.
In addition to the distance that must be covered teams must also navigate a host of different obstacles, such as military style climbing walls, which require a wide array of skills and strengths.
That’s where teamwork becomes vital.
“I think it’s important because we have some people who are stronger and some people who are lighter that we can help push up,” Begin said.
Posmituk said her team enjoyed all of the physical challenges but admitted they might have taken the running component a little too lightly.
“It was really fun. The obstacles were put together really well but there was quite a bit of running and we weren’t so prepared for,” she said.
People could compete as a member of either a fun or competitive team, or take on the course solo.
Daniel Howells was among those competition individually and blazed through the course in a little more than 30 minutes for the fastest time in the single category.
The former standout high school runner is no stranger to competition.
“It was very fun. Some of the obstacles were very challenging,” Howells said, adding he enjoyed the river crossing.
Event coordinator Sharla Brown says the event attracted 400 participants and is the first local mud run where men were able to participate.
She also organized last year’s Dirty Girls Mud Run, which featured more than 700 participants.
The once niche event is starting to become more mainstream, she said.
“I think they’re the new trend. It’s a lot of fun and something different. It’s not just running around (a certain distance) you actually have obstacles and you’re doing it with the camaraderie of friends and the people around you,” Brown said.
The event was also a fundraiser for Special Olympics Ontario, raising close to $70,000.
Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run manager Cody Jansma said last year $1.8 million was raised for the organization, benefitting 19,000 athletes across the province.
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