Muds to Suds

A dirty race to the finish line

Monday, August 19, 2013

In case of inclement weather, the second annual Muds to Suds race will most definitely not be cancelled.

In fact, those barreling headlong and foot-first into the 22 obstacles set up in a two-mile course throughout Ferndale’s Hovander Homestead Park will already be dealing with so much mud and dirty water they likely won’t even notice if the sky above them is dumping more liquid into the messy mix.

“A good mud race needs good, sticky and smelly mud,” event organizer Mel Monkelis says. “The farm fields at Hovander Park offer some of the best. It’s dark and sticks to everything.”

Monkelis says the pits will be filled back in when the Aug. 24-25 event comes to an end—per their agreement with Whatcom County Parks & Rec—but, for a handful of glorious and gutsy hours on Saturday and Sunday, the fields at the park will be a muddy playground for everyone from kids to teens to adults.

And, just in case you show up thinking there’s a chance you won’t get completely filthy, you should know before you even lace up your tennis shoes that there’s simply no chance you will get out clean. When looking at the descriptions of the nearly two dozen obstacles, phrases such as “sandbox on steroids,” “standing mud puddles,” “sand bar on the river,” “muddy swimming” and “paintballs” pop up, making it likely you won’t even be recognizable once you’ve come to the finish line.

Additionally, racers will also encounter, among other things, rope webs set up in trees, climbing walls, chill-inducing ice shavings, a sudsy blow-up slide, a pyramid of hay bales and swinging balls.

And, although the race focuses on burly tests of endurance, those who choose to skip an obstacle along the way won’t be chided for it.

“Racers can choose to walk around any obstacle they want,” Monkelis says. “The point of the Muds to Suds race is not to prove to yourself or others that you can ‘walk on barbed wire.’  The emphasis is on camaraderie and having fun. We encourage racers to help each other through the obstacles.”

Unlike most mud races happening around the country, spectators will be allowed past the start line, and can observe any of the obstacles—especially those that feature their friends or family members slogging through the wet stuff—from nearby.

“We purposely designed the course around the spectators so they could walk to any obstacle or mud pit and watch their kids or friends,” Monkelis says. “Allowing kids to race with their parents and grandparents is just fantastic as it really bonds family members. In this high-tech world we live in, it’s just nice to let go of technology and have good old-fashioned fun again.”

With an age range of 8 to 71, Monkelis stresses it’s not just a single demographic that chooses to spend a summer weekend getting dirty at Muds to Suds. He’s also not sure if the kids or the adults have more fun.

“That is a very hard question, for when you see the smiles on kids’ faces at the mud pits, it’s almost like Christmas in August,” Monkelis says. “But when you see the adults smiling as well, at each mud pit, and at the finish line, well, it’s a tossup.”

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