When fences went up around the dirt parcel on the west side of Copper Sky Regional Park, it was a sure sign of pending, dirty excitement.
If You Go
What: Maricopa Mud Run
When: Oct. 22, 9 a.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park
How much: $40 adults; $20 ages 12-17; $15 ages 4-11
Yards of mud, complicated obstacles and zombies will take over the place for the fourth annual Maricopa Mud Run on Oct. 22, starting at 9 a.m.
“We’ve been working on this probably since this March,” said Matthew Reiter, City of Maricopa fitness coordinator. “I start six to eight months early. But then throughout the whole year we have tons of discussion on the plan of this.”
Reiter attends five to 10 mud runs a year from other organizations and takes photos and brings those ideas to Parks Manager Mike Riggs. Together, they and their staff start creating and organizing Maricopa’s run.
“[Riggs] likes building these things, and I like running them,” Reiter said. Having the expertise to create the course and land on which to build it has been a matter of great timing for the city, he added.
The parks crew started building the course in mid-September and will continue as they also work on other city projects they are also responsible for.
“There will be one or two of us that will stay pretty steady,” Riggs said. The work is dependent on what equipment is available in other departments.
Because it is a city event, they do not need to subcontract or hire a course designer for $20,000. The city crews build the obstacles and save them for future runs. Riggs said they want to get seven to 10 years out of them. They build a couple new obstacles each year.
They also incorporated feedback from last year’s participants. That has brought about more zip lines, a kids’ run and a beer tent.
“This year with the zip lines we’re going to put people in the mud, so there’s a surprise,” Reiter said. “Last year you could cross the mud and land on dry ground. This year, no matter what happens, you’re going in.”
The kids’ run is a mini-version for ages 4 to 11.
“If you’re out here watching them and you see the faces and the smiles and the high fives that are happening with the people actually participating, it’s just unbelievable,” Riggs said. “Everybody has a great time. That’s the joy I get out of it, just watching everyone have a great time.”
Organizers have used lanes already set up for overflow parking from other events to use as mud-run lanes. Each lane has two or three obstacles to climb over, swing over or run through.
The National Honor Society from Maricopa High School will again get zombie-fied to add an extra challenge. Runners can get two flag-football flags to wear during the run. If they make it through the zombies with both flags intact, they win a prize.
Celebrity trainers will be on hand to lead the pre-race warm-up. The first part of the race is on dry ground, starting near the skate park. Reiter said runners will probably be sent off incrementally every 10 minutes to ease the pileups that occurred at the early obstacles.
“We’re trying to make it as challenging as we can and still make a fun family experience,” Riggs said.
The course is two miles, which is considered the “sweet spot” for mud runs. Anything longer is too much, anything shorter is not enough. Old clothes and especially old shoes are recommended.
The event will also have log-rolling, a kids’ play zone and food vendors. Participants get a T-shirt and dog tags.
“It’s really like a casual city event that’s fitness. So for people who’ve never done a run or done an obstacle course, maybe their guard’s a little more down because it’s a city event,” Reiter said. “I would be more apt to get off the couch and try it because I wouldn’t have that fear that I’m going to go in there and get wrecked.”
Mayor Christian Price has again thrown down the challenge to beat his time. The first 50 runners to finish faster than the mayor will receive a Mayor’s Achievement Coin. But be warned, Price has been training all year.
The parcel used for the mud part of the mud run is actually marked for commercial development. When that happens, Riggs said they will find a new location for the mud run or a new way to construct it.
As much fun as runners seem to have participating in the Maricopa Mud Run, the crews that make it are just as happy.
“The staff is 80 or 90 percent local. The pride they take in it knowing they’ve done it, the accomplishment once it’s done, is a real builder for this team,” Riggs said. “We consider it one of the huge team-builders that we do in the Community Services Department because everyone gets out and helps.”
This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.