The chance to play in the mud was too attractive an opportunity for Sarah Backus and Lisa Hunker to pass up. So Backus, food service director at Apollo-Ridge School District, and Hunker, cafeteria cashier at Apollo-Ridge High School, signed up for the June Dirty Girl Mud Run in Export, Pa.
Billed as a “3.1 mile (ish)” women-only obstacle course fun run, Dirty Girl Mud Runs are designed to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer.
The event, hosted annually in multiple cities, features 10 to 12 obstacles that require participants to scale walls, climb ropes, crawl through tunnels of mud, jump over fire and slip down tall slides. It’s an untimed race. The whole idea is for each participant to push herself to her own limits, but not to be pushed so far that she is uncomfortable or frustrated.
“I saw it on Facebook and thought it was the perfect excuse to play in the mud, and it was for a good cause,” says 27-year-old Backus. “I’ve never done a 5K before and thought this would be a good one to start with.”
Get ready, get set …
Backus doesn’t run in her usual workouts. In fact, her workouts typically consist of playing with her children, ages 2 and 4, and squeezing in some walks. She enlisted her longtime friend, Sarah Murdy, to run alongside her.
“We are always looking for more chances to spend time together, and this looked like the perfect thing,” she says.
Once Hunker, Backus’ co-worker, found out about the race from Backus, she too was on board.
“I’ve always wanted to do an obstacle course and thought it would be fun,” Hunker says.
Hunker formed her own team with friends from church, dubbing themselves The Mud Buds. Hunker normally works out by running and hitting a punching bag, along with other exercises. A few years ago, the 51-year-old started paying closer attention to her health.
“I started trying to make better choices, making sure I go to my annual check-ups and stay active. I think all women should be proactive about their health,” she says.
Hunker worked out a bit more to prepare for the event, even keeping up with workouts the week before the race, when she was on vacation at the beach.
“I made sure I did a lot of steps there and walked in the sand. It was a great workout,” she says.
Unlike Backus, Hunker wasn’t looking forward to playing in the mud, but was doing it more for the challenge. Despite the mud, she had a great time.
“I wasn’t crazy about being covered in mud, but it was definitely fun. We finished in 45 minutes, and I wish it had lasted longer,” Hunker says.
Backus embraced the mud a little more.
“I ate a lot of mud that day because I was laughing so hard, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. We just decided early on that we were going to get dirty and have fun,” she says.
The party-like atmosphere included a DJ and music, food and beverages, and additional activities like hair braiding.
Backus has already started talking about conquering the course again next year and has goals to run the whole event, unlike this year when she and Murdy walked and jogged. She also plans on staying at it for a while and hopefully inspiring her 4-year-old daughter, Laura, to get involved.
“I would love to have my daughter be able to do it with me some day. There were a lot of mother-daughter teams, and I think that would be great fun,” she says.
Hunker says she will also be in the Dirty Girl Mud Run in 2016.
“I’m always looking for things to do to keep in shape and have fun,” she says.