1,500 sprint through the mud

  • Matthew Chinn, 11, left, and Rebecca Correia react as they step into a mud hole during the Russian River Mud Run at Rio Lindo Adventist Academy on Sunday, October 27, 2013 in Healdsburg, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Andre Simon slid 200 feet down a hillside, landed in a large, cold, muddy pool and emerged with a broad smile on his face.

"I am uncomfortable," he admitted, "but it is so much fun here," he said. "It's amazing."

Simon, a 35-year-old behavioral specialist from Sacramento, was one of 1,500 hardy souls who participated Sunday morning in the Russian River Mud Run. Another 700 to 800 people showed up to watch and cheer.

Russian River Mud Run


Under a gray, overcast sky, with temperatures in the low 40s, runners ranging in age from 8 to 73 traveled an obstacle course along the banks of the Russian River and across the 365-acre Rio Lindo Adventist Academy in Healdsburg.

Runners climbed a steep hill dubbed the "Stairway to Heaven," paved with truck tires. They slogged across the river at a shallow point, and ducked under and leaped over barriers on another stretch of the course.

At the finish line, firefighters from the Healdsburg Fire Department hosed down the muddy runners, who were served a free hot pancake breakfast.

Medics were stationed along the way, but aside from a sprained ankle and a few back spasms, there were no injuries reported.

While organizers noted the fastest times, the race was more about family fun than competition and looked more like boot camp than the Olympics.

"As long as we all cross the finish line together, we win," said Kelly Ferris, 38, who organized a 10-member team from Comstock Wines, a new winery starting up in the Dry Creek Valley.

Most of the runners entered as a part of a group with either family members or co-workers, or both, said Orhan Sarabi of True Grit Running, the Santa Rosa-based event promotion company that put on the Mud Run.

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