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This race is the pits

Mud Run draws a crowd

Posted: September 28, 2008 8:19 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Miguel Bagues, 11, was the first kid to finish the Mud Run Sunday at Pitchess Detention Center.

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When the mud stopped flying Sunday, Miguel Bauges didn't care about being the first kid to cross the finish line. The 11-year-old was happy enough just being covered in mud, he said.

Bagues braved five-foot-deep water traps, faux gunfire and hot temperatures to compete in the 13th Annual Special Enforcement Bureau Mud Run. Participants run a muddy, water-bogged obstacle course on the grounds of Pitchess Detention Center.

Just to add to the aesthetic, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies fire blanks in the air. The mud has a magnetic draw, pulling in thousands of competitors for the early Sunday morning event.

Bagues' camouflage pants were slathered in mud. His face was mix of water, sweat and slimy mud and he was still breathing heavy minutes after he finished the race.

The event was totally worth it, he said.

"My aunt did another mud run and told me I would like it," Bagues said. After a 5.50-mile run Bauges was a mud run convert. He was ready to change and head home, but he planned to tell all his friends about Sunday's messy fun.

The mud run isn't a marathon or triathlon and at times it isn't a run. Participants walk, crawl, tumble and roll their way to the finish. In the end, finishing is just as important as a finish time, said Cheryl Broughton, founder of Fitness Edge Boot Camp, a local fitness program that get people out of the gym and puts them through the wringer, military-style.

Mud runs are Broughton's life. Fitness Edge is aimed at people who are serious about getting in shape. The classes shed pounds and prepare people for events like Sunday's mud run, she said.

"We aim for this event each year," she said. The training doesn't stop after the mud settles, she said. Boot camp training and mud runs stoke people's competitive fire. Her "troopers" work harder to run even faster at the following year's event, she said.

Brian Cole is one of Broughton's students. He started training with her in 2006 and lost more than 50 pounds.

"I did it for my kids," he said. Cole's second child was born in 2006 and he swore he would lose weight and be healthy enough to play with his kids, he said.

Cole enjoys the challenge, but he likes the camaraderie even more.

"It is even more rewarding doing this with people I train with and work with everyday," he said.

The mud run finish line is a mass of dirty, sweaty and wet humanity. Hugs are exchanged and champagne bottles pop to celebrate. But the thing that echoes across the finish line are the survival stories. Debra Gorman held her left shoe sole in her hand as she hugged her teammates. "I lost it in one of the pits," she said laughing.

The toughest part of the course for Gorman was climbing out of the pits. The steep muddy hills can be as high as 12 feet and the footing is poor, she said.

Bridgette Strong said the hardest part of the mud run is still to come. It'll take two weeks of showers and Q-Tips to get clean, she said.

After trudging through the mud-soaked quagmire, runners enjoyed a barbecue. Music blared and fire from the grill flared while mud maniacs tried relentlessly to get the mud off. A long line formed at the makeshift shower.

Gorman said she can't wait for next year.

"As long as I can walk I am going to do the mud run," she said.


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