AshevilleHendersonvilleNews StoriesPete Zamplas

Splish, Splash: Mud Run benefit for Hands On! Annual run has more than ever

This was the most number of racers in the Mud Run’s sixth year — over 50 percent more than the usual 500-600 — and thus the biggest fundraiser ever for Hands On!, its past board Pres. John Igharas said. Entry fees ($42.50-$55 per adult, $20 per child) generated an estimate of over $35,000.

All Mud Run proceeds go to Hands On! A Child’s Gallery, the non-profit center off Main Street in Hendersonville, its Ex. Dir. Heather Boeke noted. Hands On! celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.


Teams had to cross the finish line holding hands, to qualify their times. Here, a Home Depot jovially squad awaits one of its own to finish together. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

The three-mile course as usual is across much of Berkeley Mills Park near the Kimberly-Clark plant. It took overall a half-hour for the fastest racers, on a sunny and warm (over 80 degrees) pre-summer day.

Four-person teams from across the Carolinas competed in three ability levels — premier Masters of Mud, Murky Mud Mates, then Nitty Gritty Mud Lovers. New this year, people competed individually — timed, or untimed for fun and often with friends. Igharas said some found it tough to get three others for an official team. To simplify matters, there were no duos — only singles or four-person teams.

Pardee UNC Health Care is the race’s title sponsor. Park Ridge Health and Drs. Richard and Alison Reid are “premiere” sponsors. Many teams were nurses or other health care workers of Pardee, Park Ridge and from Upstate South Carolina.


Marli Gmyrek climbs out of the frozen water vault. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Results are in for 143 four-person teams, and the top 18 individuals. The top 12 overall finished quicker than 40 minutes.

There were 25 Masters of Mud teams. Best-finishing of those squads with more males than females were, in order: Waynesville’s Finest (Sam Sinyard, captain) 32:55, Mud Men (Jarod Connell) 33:37, More Than a Carpenter (Steve Bennett) 34:39, Please Slow Down My Kids (Michael Prats) 34:57, Rolling Roots (Evan Barr) 36:34, It’s Cool We’re with the Band (Derek Stipe) 37:32, Muddy Mountain Men (Wyatt Hughes) 38:16, Chafing the Dream (Timothy McBride) 39:02, Borg Warner (Justin Krauss) 29:49, Mudder Brudders (Tucker Epperson) 40:48, Flat Rock Ciderworks (Matt Orr) 43:20, Dirty Patriots (Kelby Cody) 43:29, N.C. Printing’s Muddy Elite (Chris Power) 43:48, with Mountain River Tap & Grow (Beau Waddell) in 20th overall at 44:45.

Teams with more females than males were led by Chicas Lo Dosas (Mia Salvaggio) — fifth overall at 36:14 — and Breakout Rock Stars (Neri Valdovinos) which was seventh overall at 36:35. Other swiftest mostly-female teams were Dirty Dancing (Erin Price) 43:30, Mud Warriors (Natalie Owenby) 44:59, and Dirt Up Our Skirts (Cathy Dahlberg) at 45:36.

Quickest co-ed (two females, two males) teams were Carolina Soul (Mary-O Soule) eighth overall at 37:20, Muddy Wodders (Kendal Maybin) 40:06, Red Mountain Landscapes (Steven Shillinglaw) 40:33, Lethal Mission (Chris Helton) 46:08, and The Muddy Ducks (Derrick Davis) at 47:26.

Individually, Brent Blythe was fastest at 32:43. Other best times were John Glover 33:10, Patrick McGraw 35:04, Jonathan Benson 35:37, Lawson Whiteside (38:13), Kevin Taylor 38:34, Michael Landreth 39:20, and Will Hager 40:21. Angela Greer 41:42 and Heather Ford at 41:47 were swiftest women, and rounded out the top ten.


Vows for this couple from team Dragon Feet might be adjusted to “Through sickness, deep mud and health…” Photo by Pete Zamplas.

The course had most of the same nearly 30 obstacles as a year earlier. It again culminated in a slide through tubes, into a deep muddy puddle. There are four tubes in a row there. Angela Arellano’s Living in A-Mud-rica, among cleverly-named teams, went through it in unison for a superb total mud splash.

Marli Gmyrek, 15, outs-plashed people twice her weight as she zoomed through the pipe into the mud pond. Her team is Muddy Fun, captained by Madison Kirby.

Gmyrek plays soccer for Hendersonville Lady Bearcats, along with Boeke’s daughter Ella. Gmyrek was among 20 Hendersonville-area students who last summer reached the National History Day’s national competition, which focused on explorers. Saturday, she explored the muddy course.

There were changes, shaped by post-race surveys of racers last year, Igharas said. For instance, he said, many were leery of wading through a hosed-off, swampy path near the end largely for fear of snakes. He said though no slithering creatures were detected there, the concern was honored. Thus in its place were floating steps, in a station provided by local Boy Scouts.

A new challenge was a climbing wall, put up by The Home Depot. First-time competitors such as Jacob and Shannon Laughter were surprised by the vault of icy-cold water. She said her husband Jacob was very “encouraging” to her, to persevere through obstacles.

A smaller, simpler portion of the course was used for a mile-long family fun run Friday.

The race T-shirt slogan this time is “This Mud’s for You,” as a spin-off of the classic Budweiser/“Bud” slogan. A post-race picnic was spiced by rock covers by the local Stipe Brothers band, which ran the course. By then, dozens were laughing about what they had gone through on the course.

Park Ridge labor/delivery nurses Chloe Arden, Amy Burrell and Kaytlin Morgan were happy they conquered the climbing wall and how their anointed one, Arden, outdid many others by climbing far up a slick rope to ring a bell. They figured they had an edge in gripping despite slick mud. “We’re used to catching slippery newborn babies,” Burrell quipped, “so we can handle the mud.”

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