WATERVILLE — Newly melted ice made for a muddy Sunday.

Between that and the near 60-degree temperature, it was “perfect weather” for the Dirty Dog Mud Run at Thomas College, said Jim Delorie, the school’s assistant dean of student engagement. The annual 5K race, in which participants tackled 16 obstacles from log hopping to wall climbing, drew over 500 people Sunday morning. The event was a fundraiser for the school’s recreation department.

About two thirds of the course snaked through the campus’s new Sukeforth Trail System, which opened in October.

Crystal Lockhart sloshes through mud while passing under a log Sunday morning during one of the obstacles in the annual Dirty Dog Mud Run fundraiser held at Thomas College in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

“That was a huge change to the course” said Kerry Smart, head coach of the cross country team and director of athletic fundraising. “In the past we had used some of the trails that were here already, but this year we definitely extended it. There’s a little bit more running this year, I would say, because of the trail system.”

Hannah Meneses, 33, of New Castle, said utilizing the trails this year was a plus.

“Running through the woods where it was still a little icy was the most challenging (part of the course),” she said. “But it was awesome. I love trail running.”

Delorie said that the college’s facilities team worked hard to clear the trails after the recent snowstorm.

“Preparation this year was a lot different than previous years,” Delorie said. “It involved a lot of removing ice. The last two days we were just getting rid of the ice, because in the woods you can still see snow piles, even though it was beautiful yesterday. So we did a lot of chipping and breaking and getting it so it’s safe. But what’s nice about that is that, as it broke and melted, the spots under it just became mud.”

Several racers said the muddiest spots were the most exciting.

The most fun (obstacles) were the ones where you had to get down and crawl in the mud,” Meneses said. “That was great.”

George Harper, a 45-year-old from Bath, agreed.

The last one, going under — the beams were really low and the mud was really deep. That’s where I got this,” he said, pointing to his muddied calves. 

Delorie said he tries to add something different to the race each year, which has now been held for five years. New on Sunday were a “floor is lava” wall traverse, a disc golf challenge and a modified tire pull.

“Our facilities guys built us monkey bars,” Smart added. “We’ve had monkey bars before, but they actually built them for us this year.”

I liked some of the new stuff they added this year,” Harper said. “The tire drag was different than last year — it was a little challenging because it was a big tractor tire. The jump rope was tough because it was in the mud.”

The race was open to members of the public and cost $45 per person. Delorie said just under 100 participants registered day-of, which was a welcome surprise. Last year, cold temperature and a hailstorm led to a dip in participation.

After racers crossed the finish line and received a medal, they joined spectators near Thomas College’s athletic fields, where there were food trucks and a Bigelow Brewing Co. beer tent.

Nick Kopf, 24, who placed second last year, was the first to finish in the single-lap race this year, with a time of 24:25.9. Full results are posted online at Back 40 Events.


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