Six or 10 kms, 18-plus obstacles, a 10,000-watt after-party and a whole lot of slimy mud is what Mud Hero is all about.
In it’s fifth year now in Red Deer, Mud Hero was held on Aug. 12 and 13 at Canyon Ski Resort to suit the tastes of a wide variety of runners, and had two Stettlerites participating for the first time, Kevin Falkenberg, and his daughter, Taylor.
Since this was their first year they weren’t sure what to expect, but it was a very well-organized event, according to Falkenberg.
“We spoke to a few people and got the impression that it was one of the best organized events of it’s kind, and I volunteered as a first aider on Saturday, Aug. 12, with my ski patrol troupe, which gave me some idea,” Falkenberg said.
The Canadian Ski Patrol-Red Deer division provides help with first aid each year at the event, ever since Mud Hero came to Red Deer.
Speaking about preparing himself for Mud Hero, Falkenberg said that he had been riding his bike through summer to get fit.
”The course was set up to accommodate most people, and I even saw two pregnant ladies and a 79-year-old man taking part too. If you couldn’t do the challenge you could go around,” Falkenberg said. “I had trouble doing the avalanche element, but Taylor was able to do it, and she was pleased that she was able to do a challenge that I could’t. The first mud pit was our big concern, but once we got in the mud we were good with anything.”
Falkenberg added that the event was memorable for him as he did it with his daughter.
“We were supporting each other all summer with our training, and it’s a memory that we will always share,” Falkenberg added. “In fact we have already signed up for next year, crossing the finish line covered in mud is an incredible feeling hard to describe.”
There were many teams, from friends to mom and dad and kids. There were a few people that were there to challenge themselves for a good finish, and Falkenberg added that it was awesome to see people helping and encouraging friends and strangers to push themselves through the challenges.
“There were people of all shapes and sizes, ages, and genders, and there’s no reason that if you’re able to jog you can’t do this race. The station that I volunteered at on Saturday was the backwards bullfrog,” Falkenberg explained. “What struck me was how many people were smiling. On Sunday, the two of us couldn’t stop smiling too, we felt that we really accomplished something together, it was a fantastic experience.”
“We have three different versions of the Mud Hero course. We’ve got the Mud Hero 6k, which is our most popular one, and then we’ve got what we call the Mud Hero Ultra 10k, which obviously is 10 kilometres, and those are for people who want a little bit of extra challenge,” said Ted McLeod, president and one of the co-founders of Mud Hero, adding that the obstacles are more challenging for the Ultra.
There was also a 500-m kids’ course that kids ages four- to 12-years-old could do as many times as they liked.
It too had different-sized obstacles for them to transition up to.
“Obviously the four-year-olds would have a little bit of trouble getting over a 4-foot wall whereas a 12-year-old can, but that’s a pretty good challenge for them,” said McLeod.
The first Mud Hero event was held in July of 2012 in the Canmore area, and McLeod, along with fellow co-founder and CEO Adam Ruppel only expected a couple of thousand people to show up, but much to their surprise they had over 5,000 for that week.
Both with a history in running events, the two men thought they would make Mud Hero appeal to a wide audience with a broad range of obstacles and easy to hard sections of the race.
“Let’s be honest, not everyone is in the gym 16 hours a week,” said McLeod.
Their first number of events were six kilometres.
“We always aim to have at least 16 obstacles and we change them up every year, and that way people who are returning don’t feel like they’re just doing the same course that they did three years ago, and then two years ago and then one year ago.”