WATERVILLE — Pam Burgess didn’t originally think she’d be running an obstacle course in a Spider-Man costume.

But when she hit the trail of the Dirty Dog Mud Run at Thomas College on Saturday morning, she took on the challenge of the 5K course dressed as the famed webslinger.

“It was spur of the moment,” Burgess said.

Saturday was the first time the event — with a course that started by the baseball field and darted throughout the campus — was the first held at the school since 2019, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I thought it was two years at first, but then everyone told me, ‘No, you canceled 2020, the last one you did was 2019.’ So it’s been three years,” said race director Jim Delorie, who is also the assistant dean of student engagement at Thomas College. “To just have people back on campus, in an atmosphere where they can get out, people playing in the mud. We’ve got kids playing around. It just feels great to have energy and to have the event again. That makes me happy.”

Obstacles of all sorts stood in the way of participants, including wooden barriers to climb over and balance beams, among others. In order to reach the finish line, four large bales of hay served as a wall for runners to climb over. If a runner couldn’t complete an obstacle, they would do 10 jumping jacks instead. A mud pool was among the highlights of the course. Some ran through it. Some ran around it. A couple brave souls even dove into it.


“It’s about a 3 mile course,” said Delorie, a veteran of Spartan obstacle races. “We have 15 obstacles. We’ve got some mounds of dirt from the construction that’s going on on campus. (The runners) are digging in the mud, they’re playing in the mud. They’ll jump over some walls. They’ll do some monkey bars. On the back part of the course they’re jumping rope in the mud, they’re flipping tires in the mud. In the middle of campus, we have a cargo net. It traverses most of our campus. They’ll get to see our trails, they’ll get to see most of campus. They really get to go everywhere. They’ll have a lot of fun.”

Runners participate in the Dirty Dog Mud Run on Saturday at Thomas College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Multiple races were part of the mud run. A lap race — where runners try to complete as many laps of the course as possible, started the morning, followed by an elite race. A kids race — the Pup Mud Run — wrapped up the day.

For Devon Hinckley, 30, of Winthrop — who finished as the top elite participant with a time of 31:38 — the race was practice for a bigger goal.

“In a couple weeks, I have a major 50K obstacle course race, a Spartan ultra in New Jersey,” Hinckley said. “I use this as a good experience, a good warmup for something important. Currently, I’m a Spartan racer, I’m hoping to qualify on my way to complete an ultra-based (race) as an elite (runner) and then (race) in the ultra world championship and become a world champion myself.”

Most participants of the Dirty Dog Mud Run were on hand for the challenge of the course, and to have fun. Burgess, 48, of Dover, New Hampshire, took part in the run with her grandkids — Keenan Burgess and Xavier Velazquez, of Saco — both of whom had never run in an obstacle race before.

“(Waterville) is my husband’s hometown,” Pam Burgess said. “So I decided to run this race with the two grandsons. It was fun, and we have a family gathering after.”


Keenan Burgess and Velazquez, both 13, did well in their first attempt. Keenan Burgess finished 21st overall (36:24), while Velazquez was 23rd (36:41).

Steele Young, a Thomas College senior, flops into the water Saturday while competing in the Dirty Dog Mud Run at Thomas College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“There were some parts that were pretty hard, but it was pretty fun, to be honest,” Keenan Burgess said.

“The hills and the tire flips (were the hardest),” Velazquez said. “That took out a lot of energy.”

Attire was also a key component of the Dirty Dog Mud Run. While Pam Burgess’ Spider-Man ensemble was the highlight of colorful outfits, some runners competed with bunny ears on, in anticipation of Easter. Teams of runners wore matching T-shirts, with messages varying from “5 AM Crew” to “#NoExcuses.”

Delorie said 600 runners registered for the race, an excellent turnout for an event that hasn’t taken place in three years.

“It definitely feels a little more back to normal,” Delorie said.

Quinn Troy had the top overall time of the day, finishing the course in 30 minutes. Chet Hanscom ran the most laps, six in total, finishing at 3:24:31. Franny Rose ran the most laps for females, with five, finishing at 3:37:38.

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