Runners get dirty for multiple sclerosis

Amanda Burg's dreams came true Saturday when she dove into a mud pit.


Burg's elephant-clown-shark costume didn't hold up well as she swam to the end of the pit, donned a set of goggles and buried her face in the mud, but the Soldotna woman didn't seem to mind.

Burg was one of about 30 people who signed up to run and support multiple sclerosis Saturday during a 5k race organized by New Beginnings Fitness Center in North Kenai.

"I've been wanting to do one," Burg said of the mud run. "I didn't think there was anything like that around here. When I heard about this one I just had to join."

Whitney Martin, instructor coordinator at the center, said this year's run was a revival of a mud-run tradition established by a former gym in the New Beginning's location just off of the Kenai Spur Highway.

"We did it three years in a row, then took a couple of years off," Martin said.

Now, with the new gym, Martin said she hopes to bring the 5k obstacle-course-style run back every year.

The Nikiski Fire Department was on hand to hose runners off and kept the mud pit mixed and wet for all of the participants.

"They said they'd be out there as long as they don't get a call," Burg said.

The first to make it through the course, in 26 minutes and 48 seconds, was Sean Goff, of Kenai who said it was nice to cool off in the mud after the heat of the race.

"It's not too bad," he said. "It's actually kind of refreshing."

The last two, Erin Boehme and her son Brenden Boehme, 9, paused and jumped into the pit together with Erin diving in enthusiastically and Brendan pausing before making a tentative splash into the murky water.

Erin smiled when she talked about pushing her son into the mud and laughing together until the two realized that one of Brenden's cochlear implants had fallen out.

"He had a hat on earlier to keep them in and he took it off while we were running," she said. "I just completely forgot."

Several racers happily jumped back into the mud to search for Brenden's hearing aid and when it was found, Erin held it up triumphantly to the relief of several members of the crowd.

As she spoke, another of Erin's four sons, 6-year-old Nolan, walked up with a handful of bright yellow flowers he'd picked on the side of the road while waiting for the runners to return.

"You did a good job," he said as he presented her with the bouquet.

Erin said it was her oldest son's first 5k, but he loved running so it wasn't hard to get him into the race.

"There was mud involved," she said. "What 9-year-old doesn't like that?"

Rashah McChesney can be reached at