Getting down and dirty ... for a good cause
Kitsap Sun, Bremerton, Wash.
CENTRAL KITSAP, Wash. — Crashing through the woods, Sgt. Maj. Tim Smith's right foot stomped down, landing in a pit of mud.
Anyone else might have let out a litany of curse words trying to lift a foot from the unforgiving bog, but Smith instead looked down at the mud seeping over his khaki ankle-high boots and grinned.
As a loud suction sound filled the air, Smith freed his boot and laughed.
"The more people that go in it, the more muddy it will be," he said. "Once we dig this up, it will be nice and soupy."
The recently retired Marine veteran has spent much of his free time in recent weeks in tramping through the woods behind Royal Valley Farm, sandwiched between Highway 303 and Paulson Road in Central Kitsap. The property is connected to the farm and home of longtime Silverdale residents Ron and Nadean Ross.
The couple has given Smith free rein to explore their woods to create the ultimate mud run obstacle course.
Formerly stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Smith worked at the Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center. He was responsible for running young Marines through the 3.8-mile course, making sure it provided enough obstacles to teach teamwork, endurance and quick thinking.
With his expertise in muddy obstacle courses, Smith is the ideal person to create the course for the inaugural Extreme K Mud Run, which will be Saturday, Oct. 6. Organizers have been brainstorming for a year for the event, which is being put on by the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce.
"We were thinking, how can we create more of a vibrant economy and how can we make Kitsap more of a destination?" said Kathleen Knuckey, executive director of the chamber.
Initially the chamber looked into hiring a company to host the run, but the cost was too much and the money wasn't going to stay local. Members decided they could do it themselves. The money raised will go to community organizations including the Central Kitsap Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, St. Vincent de Paul, Kitsap Community Resources, Harrison Medical Center Foundation and CSTOCK.
The popularity of mud run events have grown in recent years as civilians test their endurance running through scaled back courses, which replicate those used to prepare cadets for service.
While cadets run through the courses for rigorous training, civilian mud runs put a fun spin on the everyday 5K run.
"There are so many people that aren't exercise enthusiasts that are excited about this," said Deanna Wentz, chamber board member and mud run committee chairwoman.
The popularity of mud runs have grown so much so that Knuckey said she knows of people who travel around the area to participate in the events. That's the audience the Silverdale Chamber hopes to capture, she said. Eventually, the organization wants to build the run into a two-day event that will bring people to stay overnight, helping to bolster the local economy, Knuckey said.
Last week in the woods behind Royal Valley Farm, Smith explained his strategy for creating the course that includes obstacles with names like "insanity swamp," "peanut butter pit," "life's a ditch crossing" and "hole of horror."
"Mostly I tried to use the natural terrain to make it difficult, and I think I've successfully done that," Smith said. "I think Marines would run through the whole course and it would take them 30 to 40 minutes. The average person it will take about an hour."
Smith used the volunteer labor of young Marines from Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to build the course, which includes obstacles built from giant mooring lines donated by the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. He volunteered to build the course because he realized what it would do for the area.
"The main reason I wanted to help with this course is I realize that the community is overwhelmingly supportive of the military," he said.
Visit www.extremekmudrun.com for information and to register.