RUSH TOWNSHIP — They were dirty and tired, and eager for an ice-cold drink, but their smiles were huge. They had tested themselves, and they had passed.
About 500 people trekked to Mid-State Regional Airport over the weekend to participate in the Hardcore Mudd Run, an endurance event that combines a race, a boot camp-style obstacle course and a little borderline torture.
“We came as a team. We finished as a team,” said Erika Syktich, of DuBois. She completed the course in style, wearing a mud-stained Wonder Woman outfit. “We like the challenge.”
According to Fred Williamson, of Julian-based HMR, the competitors are evenly split between men and women. While most fall in the 25-30 age bracket, there are plenty older and younger participants, some older than 60 years old.
The 8-mile course is also something that builds a bond between team members, like Peter Sorensen, of State College, and other members of the Tussey Mountain Ski Patrol.
His favorite part? “The finish,” he said. But his team also liked the swamp walk, a draining slog that is exactly what it sounds like.
The least favorite, for everyone polled, is no contest at all. “Electrocution.”
That’s right. Electric Avenue is the name of the obstacle, where challengers crawl on their hands and knees through muddy water, around bales of hay, and under a wooden frame stretched with electrical wires connected to a car battery. More thin, electrified wires dangled, making it impossible to crawl through the course without experiencing periodic shocks.
“Everyone who went through swore at least once,” said emergency medical technician Michael Weaver, who was on hand at that stop to make sure “electrocution” didn’t end up as bad as it sounded.
So, why do people do this?
“We’re crazy,” said Wendy Wagner, of Pennsylvania Furnace, who powered through the course with two co-workers.
There is a little more to it than that. A portion of the proceeds from the event, which costs as much as $150 if a challenger runs both days, goes to the Children’s Miracle Network.
“It’s about teamwork, not individuals. It’s about camaraderie and people helping a good cause and having fun,” said Williamson. “And getting dirty.”