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Tom Mix, Published September 14 2013

Mudman event hits Glyndon

Glyndon, Minn. - Overcast skies with a high chance of rain normally aren’t welcomed sights at Buffalo River Race Park, but on Saturday the damp, soggy atmosphere was just right for a mud run.

The infield and surrounding property of the BRRP was transformed to host the inaugural Fargo Mudman extreme 5K obstacle course race.

Ryan Sheeley, a 20-year-old runner from Wahpeton, N.D., was one of nearly 1,000 people to complete the muddy course full of military-inspired obstacles.

Sheeley ran in the first heat of the event along with his 43-year-old father Chad Sheeley. The younger Sheeley was the first competitor to cross the finish line turning in a time of 30 minutes, 31 seconds, but Chad wasn’t too far behind.

“It was great to get out and run with my dad,” Ryan Sheeley said. “It’s great to have a little father and son bonding time plus get in a little exercise, too. We wanted to finish near the top and I think we succeeded in that goal.”

“I give all the credit to (Ryan),” Chad Sheeley said. “He is the only reason I’m out here today. It was a very challenging course. The ropes and monkey bars were what slowed me down. It was a very well put together course.”

The course was designed so runners of all abilities could participate, but its uniqueness is the event’s biggest draw.

Race director Bill Corcoran, who owns and operates Graniteman Events based out of central Minnesota, organizes a series of Mudman racing events with other sites located in Duluth, Minn., and Kimball, Minn.

“There is a weekend warrior in everyone,” Corcoran said. “We have found out that people like to do something out of the norm and be challenged. At the same time, they want something they don’t have to train 15 hours a week for. With this event we cater to the elite athlete, but it’s also a race that people can have fun with.”

There are many variations of mud runs across the region, and like any racing promoter Corcoran’s biggest job is to make his events stick out.

Corcoran toured several sites in the Fargo-Moorhead area before deciding on Glyndon. Once the site is selected, even more attention is paid to details making sure the course becomes what Corcoran calls an adventure rather than a run-of-the-mill obstacle course.

Mud runs are just one style of the growing market of “themed runs” looking to attract runners who want more than the average road race.

There are no shortage of themed runs being offered. A “Run or Dye” 5K event – where runners race through colored dye stations and finish looking like rainbows – was held in West Fargo over the summer.

The possibilities for themed runs seem endless, but what will ultimately determine the sustainability of themed runs is the number of entries.

“These themed racing events have been a really strange phenomenon,” Corcoran said. “It really will be interesting to see what sticks and what doesn’t. They are out of the norm. You do these events for fun plus you can participate in them with your friends.”

Sally Loeffler, co-owner of Beyond Running in downtown Fargo, said themed runs don’t have much impact her business.

“Most take part in these events for fun,” Loeffler said. “They are good for first-time runners to get an introduction to running events.”

Jamie Krabbenhoft, 30, of Sabin, Minn., participated in the Hard Charge mud run held in West Fargo last spring and brought along a co-worker to Saturday’s event.

“It’s a fun race and it’s great to do something other than a normal run,” Krabbenhoft said. “It keeps things from getting too boring.”

Like Krabbenhoft, Ryan Sheeley also got his first taste of themed runs at the Hard Charge race.

“Last May, I ran in the Fargo half-marathon and the Hard Charge was a few weeks after that, so I figured I would give it a try since I was still in shape,” said Sheeley, who is a junior at the University of Jamestown. “After that I was hooked. I can definitely see myself making this one of my bigger hobbies.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562