By JAMES COSTELLO
Saturday’s Mudtastic Classic at the WACF Levinson LaBrosse Lakes and Wetlands Education Center represented the fifth annual running of the event, but it was Syracuse Parks and Recreation Department Program Director Darin Lursen’s first. He couldn’t have asked for much more in his first year at the reigns of the obstacle course mud run.
Turnout was great, the weather was beautiful, and things went off without a hitch at the parks department fundraiser, presented by the K21 Health Foundation.
“It’s been a really good turnout,” said Lursen. “It was a long week setting all this up, but we got it just how we liked it. And the rain held off today — we couldn’t ask for better conditions.”
Each and every year, the course — which winds more than two miles through the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation grounds near Lake Wawasee — features a number of challenging, yet fun obstacles designed for participants of all ages and athletic abilities, and this year’s was no different in that regard. But with so many returning faces to the annual event, the layout, specific obstacles and placement of familiar equipment change each year to give runners something new to look forward to.
“Basically, this entire week we were trying to build the obstacles and get the mud in here, do all the fine-tuning the last couple days,” Lursen explained. “We have people coming back every year so we want to try and give them something a little bit different. We’ll have some of the same obstacles, but we moved them around to give it a different look. We’re always looking for new ideas.”
“It’s a family-friendly environment — multiple obstacles that are family-friendly as well that a little kid or a big kid can go over. Not a timed event, so you just come out and essentially have fun,” said parks department superintendent Chad Jonsson. “It’s a fun time to get dirty.”
Preregistration for the fifth Mudtastic held steady from last year at about 232, but a multitude of race-day entrants turned out as well. Cost for the event was $15 for kids and $25 for adults, and all of those proceeds go back directly into the parks departments funds for the year.
“We use the funds for this toward the operations of the parks department,” Jonsson explained. “So it doesn’t necessarily go toward a specific project, but things that we use on a day-to-day basis, it goes into a fund that we use for purchases of recreation activities, basically.”