Sunday River and Shawnee Peak rolled out two of the first large-scale public challenge-course mud run races in Maine last year.

Now the town of Gorham and its local university are going to try to grab a few honors.

A class of students at the University of Southern Maine will host a mud run on May 7 in what race directors hope will be the first of many true mud runs to come.

All the proceeds of the race go to a scholarship fund for the sports management program at the University of Southern Maine.

“Some mud runs are incredibly large races and people travel large distances to participate. What’s different about ours, mud will be the focus,” said Jo Williams, a USM associate professor of sports marketing who is orchestrating the race.

Participants are encouraged to wear costumes and compete in teams. So far, 100 people have registered, and race organizers don’t plan to cap the event.

About 150 racers are expected, but none will be turned away from getting dirty and wet.

“The more people who run through the mud, the better the mud,” Williams said.

The sports marketing class taught by Williams and USM assistant professor Heidi Parker has been working on the event for the last year.

And Williams brings the experience of running LPGA events in Vermont.

She thinks the first year of Maine’s whole-hearted mud run will be a hit.

“Students have been getting all muddy and running around Portland handing out fliers,” Parker said. “They’ll probably do that three or four more times as we head toward crunch time.”

While Sunday River and Shawnee Peak’s challenge-course events tap into the communities of elite, rugged and fit recreational athletes in Maine, Parker said Gorham’s mud run is geared toward everyone, regardless of fitness level.

“Ours is not quite as intense. It’s about getting muddy and having fun. And it’s only two and a half miles,” Parker said. “Somebody does not need to be fit to complete the course.”

The class was given permission to hold the race at Gorham Middle School, which made the event possible.

“Not everywhere are people OK with digging mud pits,” Parker pointed out.

With three weeks to go, the course has yet to be dug and laid out, but the event promoters have no doubt it will be muddy fun.

There will be 12 obstacles such as a spider web run that sends racers climbing over webbing; some kind of slippery slope; a sand run; one deep mud pit and other odd challenges.

“There will be feathers. And we’ll leave it at that,” Parker said.

Five to six sections of good mud are assured, and definitely expect one wide, deep mud pond that will take an excavator to create.

Chances are good bleachers will sit at the one big, deep mud run.

And the hope is that Gorham’s race will offer so much mad muddy fun that it will grow.

“There is a pretty good chance it will become an annual event,” Parker said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience. And we hope for this to be an event for the community, to really celebrate the mud season in Maine.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

[email protected]