Mud Dobbers

Mad Town 5K Mud Run,
Oldham’s Mud Run challenging

Extreme events give runners a new twist
on testing their limits

(May 2017) – Gary Bennett of Madison, Ind., will turn 49 years old the day before the fourth annual Mad Town Mud Run on May 20. This will be his third time participating in the event. He missed number two because he chipped a bone in his foot while jumping rope in the gym shortly before the second-year event, but he served as a volunteer at the tire flip and box jump stations.
“I was extremely bummed because I love doing stuff like this,” said Bennett.
His love of this extreme event has spread to his family.
“My wife, Kim, and daughter, Lexi, 19, work one the of the stations each year,” he said. My son, Gabe, and I run it together. He has yet to beat me. He is 17 now, so it will a tough year for me to beat him.”

Photo courtesy of Ray Black

Participants in last year’s Mad Town 5K Mud Run negotiate a number of obstacles and crawl through this mud pit on their way to the finish line.

The Mad Town 5K Mud Run is organized by Ray Black of the Lide White Boys & Girls Club as a fundraiser.
The diabolical obstacles are like a twisted boot camp that could only be thought up by someone very comfortable pushing people to their limit – someone like a wrestling coach.
That is where Black comes into the picture. He is the third generation of wrestlers in his family. He wrestled at Madison Consolidated High School and then four years at Hanover College. His list of accomplishments is long and includes NCAA champions. His wrestlers at the club start as early as age 4 in the Indiana State Wrestling Association. The club will soon play host to the 34th annual Little League Wrestling Tournament.
One of Black’s wrestlers from the club is Bubba Jenkins, who was the 2011 NCAA Division I National Champion, and now competes in Mixed Martial Arts. He started with Black at age 6.
The 5K starts at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, the original location for the Boys & Girls Club. From there, the competitors run west on Vaughn Drive to the start of the Heritage Trail and up the trail to the hilltop. There are more than 20 obstacles in between the start and finish.
The first obstacle is at the start of the Heritage Trail, where there are 100 tires to be run like a football players drill. Then there are hurdles by the sewage plant. Once they reach the Crooked Creek Trail Head two blocks north of Main Street, they go up and over the arch bridge, where they pick up a car tire and carry it through the creek before starting up the hill.
“That hill is a 16.5 degree incline,” said Black. “Along their way up the hill, they jump up and down 10 sets of boxes. Then, before they reach the quarry, they do tractor tire flips. After that, they pick up a 4x4x8-foot fence posts and carry it a quarter mile.”

Photo courtesy of Ray Black

Mad Town 5K Mud Run participant Gary Bennett (front left) races through the tires during the 2015 event.

Black takes it easy on the females here; their fence post is only six foot long.
Just before the edge of the Madison State Hospital property, they scale an eight-foot wall, walk a 24-foot balance beam, crawl under barbed wire in the mud and finally through a 15-foot culvert tube.
There are also 16-foot monkey bars and a final mud pit as they try and finish the hill.
“Near the end, there is a pull up station, and two 14-foot gates to climb,” said Black. “Just before the end is the dreaded black box. It is totally dark with little surprises that may feel like worms or crickets.
At the finish, participants jump over a flaming fire pit and then into ice water. After that, the finish line is a piece of cake.
Bennett has a long history of difficult training from Black.
“I have been lucky to be around Ray since I was a little guy,” he said.  “He had me at a young age, 6 or 7. Wrestling is so good for the kids; it builds character and teamwork.”
Bennett’s son is also on Black’s wrestling team and qualified for regional competitions this year.
“The great thing about the mud run is that it is competitive but also builds community,” Bennett added. “It is OK to help someone over an obstacle, and it gives them a sense of accomplishment. It is nice to compete but also nice to help others over physical as well as mental obstacles.”

Ray Black

Black has devised ways to increase the competitive nature of the event. He has issued a challenge to all local gyms to see who does the best job conditioning athletes. Each five-person team must include two females, and each individual needs to conquer all the obstacles without assistance from teammates.
When teams reach the club property, they pick up a backboard. With two women in front and two men in the rear, they carry the first team member 1/8 of a mile.
There is also a junior beast cup for those 18 and under. That is a challenge for high school wrestling, football and track teams.
In both beast cups, it is the time of the last member to finish that is the team time.
The popularity of the mud run is growing. There were 57 participants the first year. It grew to 105 in year two, and 157 last year. Black has his sights set on breaking the 200 mark.
It is also a family affair for Black’s family.
“My wife did it last year,” said Black. “She fussed at me and said that is another of your dang wrestling deals. The burpees nearly broke me.”
Black’s daughter, Coco, flew in from Atlanta for the event. His granddaughter, Gracie, 10, won her heat.
Mad Town is not the only mud run in the region. The Down & Dirty Obstacle Mud Run is set for May 20 at Wendell Moore Park in Buckner, Ky. This second annual event is organized by the Oldham County Parks & Recreation Department with sponsorship from 360 Chiropractic.
“We plan a series of 5K events,” said organizer and parks director Tim Curtis. “We were looking for a variation and saw the popularity of tough events for mudders and thought we would give it a try.”
The Down & Dirty 5K Obstacle Mud Run includes included walls to climb, trenches to navigate and other physical challenges such as tire carry and football toss. There are more than 20 obstacles or challenges for the 130 participants to overcome.
“There is a whole series of these events,” Curtis added. “Some are an extreme challenge. Ours is a little shorter. It’s a good time.”
Curtis organizes the event and also takes part in it. “I am a distance runner but never did this kind of thing before,” he said. “It challenges a different muscle group. It is also good for team work.”

• For information about the Mad Town Mud Run, call (812) 265-5811. For information about the Down and Dirty event, call (502) 225-0655.

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