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Big Muddy Challenge promises some dirty fun for the family

Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 10:39 am

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Have you ever wanted to share your passion of running with your children and your friends?

A father and daughter team splashes through the water in a recent Charlotte, N.C. event. (Contributed photo by David Kenas)

A father and daughter team splashes through the water in a recent Charlotte, N.C. event. (Contributed photo by David Kenas)

Active residents may have thought about that, because there are so many races for adults and several runs directed more toward children.
But, founder of The Big Muddy Challenge, Adam Spisak felt there needed to be a race for families to participate in together and he specifically wanted to do a mud-based run because he has done about 10 or so on his own.

“It’d be neat to share this experience with [my 2-year-old daughter] one day,” Spisak said he thought to himself one time during a race.

This year there are six Big Muddy Challenge races across North Carolina and into Virginia — three have already occurred.

Spisak said they chose to have one of the runs to be located in Hanover at Ashland Berry Farm  Aug. 2  because the venue is family-focused and has enough land for the roughly two-mile course. He found out about the venue from some friends in Virginia and then spoke with the owner.

“It just made sense,” Spisak said.

Spisak said he really liked the fact that the farm hosts family-friendly activities in the fall.

The run has various obstacles along the way such as an army crawl and several mud pits.

It also has a “mental component,” where participants are asked questions that someone of any age could answer in order to pass to the next part of the race. Some even require individuals to write the answer in mud on their partner’s shirt.

That aspect of the run is added to make sure that the event does not just involve physical tasks, Spisak said.

Regardless of the tasks required, Spisak said the run is designed for people between the ages of 6 and 87.

“We’re working very hard to blend the two,” he said.

That has been Spisak’s main goal when he organized the first Big Muddy Challenge last year in Raleigh, N.C., where roughly 1,000 people participated in the run. The goal of the run has been to “blur the line between traditional adult events and traditional children events.”

“There’s a big difference between cheering someone on from the sideline and being a supportive spectator versus truly interacting together as a family with friends to complete the race,” Spisak added.

There is also another important goal of the race. Spisak said they want to promote the race as being a fun, active outing the whole family can take part in.

After that initial race, Spisak and his small team received feedback from runners and their families. Spisak said after a lot of positive feedback they had decided to do several races this year and see what the outcomes are.

Spisak said there are a few races of this kind already, but none of them quite fit his vision or the Big Muddy Challenge’s vision because most focus on either children or adults.

“Any mom or dad who does race probably has a little bit of a passion and curiosity that they’d like to share with their child and when I say share I mean literally participate side-by-side,” Spisak said.

A portion of the proceeds from each race benefits a chapter of the organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters. Some of the proceeds from the Hanover race will help the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Richmond. Spisak said he wanted to support the organization because it focused on older individuals helping and mentoring younger people and teaching them how to be leaders.

“When I think about those traits, I would identify Big Muddy Challenge with those traits more than purely a physical race because at the end of the day, [those] are the things people remember,” Spisak said.

The event will start at 9 a.m. Aug. 2; children tickets cost $37 and adult tickets cost $40. Ticket sales will end the day before the race. For more information about the event, visit the website.