Kilgore mud run challenges participants
By Meredith Shamburger
June 25, 2016 at 10:48 p.m.
KILGORE — A man crested a hill near the finish line of Kilgore's inaugural Stars and Scars Mud Run to the shouts of support and rounds of applause from spectators on the sidelines.
But before Andrew Smith could officially be crowned the first-place runner in the 5K category, he had to make it through a big mud pit that kept sucking and slowing him down.
"You just keep moving as much as you can," Smith, 30, of Lindale said of his strategy for making it through Saturday's race.
"I have these shoes that help drain water a little bit easier and get the mud off. Otherwise you feel like your feet weigh 12 pounds."
The Kilgore Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau hosted its first mud run Saturday morning, challenging 167 runners to make it through a series of obstacles and difficult terrain in both a 5K and a 10K race.
Crews from Mobbs Construction had been busy during the past week to move dirt around and finish the course, which was held at Rabbit Creek Offroad Park just south of Interstate 20 in Kilgore. Chamber President Cindy Morris praised their work Saturday, saying runners had a lot of challenges to overcome.
"There's 14 known obstacles, but we think our construction guy made three or four more," she said. "Like right over here is the ankle breaker, which is an up-and-down hill, rocky terrain. And we have the slip and slide, which is our start. We have a huge mud pit, which is our finish."
The race was part of the chamber's efforts to draw more visitors into the community. Morris said they plan to bring the race back next year and hope it grows to become a signature event in Kilgore.
The runners who came out were treated to water, cold towels and a free shower at the finish line. It took a little while to get all the mud off, especially for those who ended up crawling rather than walking through the mud to get to the finish line.
Smith began doing mud runs in 2014, when he ran a Spartan Beast race with a buddy on a whim. Coming home to East Texas for one, he said, was great. But the course was not easy.
"It was hilly and muddy to say the least," he said. "The obstacles weren't bad, but the hills and mud will wear you out, especially as it started to get hotter."
Melissa Null agreed. The Tyler resident had signed up for the 10K, but bailed out at the 5K mark.
"The whole time I was thinking I can't wait for this to be over with," she said. "There was no end in sight."
Null said the entire course was challenging. Although she found the mud refreshing because it was cool, the hills, rocks and terrain took a toll on her quad muscles. After the race, Null grabbed a bottle of water and sat down in a shady spot to catch her breath.
"It was a lot worse than I thought it would be," she said.
Reece Nichols, incoming chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, was all smiles after finishing the 5K race. This was his first mud run.
"I've been training for it on some hills, but the obstacles change the game big time and the mud is so deep that it just saps your strength," he said.
Nichols said the chamber didn't know what to expect at its first mud run, but officials hope Kilgore's event can be as popular as those in larger cities.
"I really hope it catches on," he said.