By JAMES COSTELLO
The Mudtastic Classic has grown a little each and every year of its existence. At Saturday’s fourth annual mud run at the WACF Levinson LaBrosse Lakes & Wetlands Education Center, participation took a pretty significant jump, up from roughly 175 participants last year to around 250 this year.
“We are way up this year in numbers. We have almost registered 250, which is 60 more than last year, I think. I don’t remember exactly what it was last year, but we’ve never gone over the 200, and we’re up to 250. It’s great,” said Syracuse Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent Chad Jonsson.
That’s good news for the parks and rec department, which relies on the Mudtastic to provide some of the funding for its many programs and facilities. Cost to participate was $20 per adult and $10 per child, aged 7-14. The money went back into the department’s coffers in a general fund, explained Jonsson.
“This is essentially a fundraiser for the parks department. We use it for other programs and activities and things we do in the park; not really for one project but just to help fund the parks in general,” he said.
Saturday’s run marked the first year Jonsson ran the race directly, after former program director Tyler McLead left for another job opportunity — although McLead did return as a volunteer to help with the event — and the transition went pretty smoothly for Jonsson. As always, members of the Syracuse-Turkey Creek Fire Department waited outside the finish line to hose down muddy participants after the runs. Runners came decked out in some creative costumes, only to have a good time ruining them in a swampy obstacle course that included climbs, slides and trenches of water and mud on the trails near Lake Wawasee.
New to this year’s event, all participants had the option to either run or walk the 1.25-mile short course or to continue along for the full 2.25-mile tract. And the course itself was all new, as it is every year, giving returning participants something novel to enjoy.
“We change it every year just to vary it up so that someone doesn’t come out here every year and say ‘Oh, it’s the same thing.’ We move things around and we dig different holes, and we develop different ways of putting people in holes,” Jonsson explained.