Fun in the mud at Pocahontas Park

Multitudes of eager racers and heavy-eyed spectators gathered Sunday morning at Pocahontas State Park for this year’s Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series event. And though the event listed “Richmond” as its official host site for this particular race, Chesterfield County proudly welcomed folks to its outdoor haven off Beach Road before sending them off caked in our precious county mud.

According to the event’s website, www.muddy-buddy.competitor.com, each Muddy Buddy race benefits the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and “empowers individuals with physical challenges to find success in sports – and in life.” With the goal of each race to raise $2500, the foundation proudly sponsors a race, with proceeds providing challenged athletes with the necessary equipment, such as sports chairs and hand-cycles.

“Challenged Athletes [CAF] has many areas that they help out,” said event director Jamie Monroe. “It’s a national foundation, so they support people here in the Richmond area, the Virginia area, and throughout the country.”

Pointing to the U.S Paralympics for statistics, the event’s website asserts that there are 21 million individuals living with a physical disability in the country today, with only one in 10 of those participating in daily fitness activities, cost being a major factor.

For Eric Beck, the director for that particular event, whose responsibility includes overseeing all 18 Muddy Buddy races across the nation, the event’s success largely originates from it being enjoyable for people to experience.  

 “It’s just a fun way to raise money for CAF, for assisting athletes in the game of life,” said Beck. “But the event itself, people take it less seriously. It’s about having a good time and getting muddy and being with your best friends while doing it.”

Several hundred, if not thousands, of race participants were released in “waves” from the finish line, a mark situated just inside the park’s entrance gates, and then raced with a partner through the 6.2 mile, marked-off course, which ran through parts of the park.

Racers, in teams of both young and old, men and women, lined up minutes before the race’s official start time at 8 a.m.

But then, at 9 a.m., with racers backed up for numbers of rows, the first-place team took to the dirty pits and mounds of Chesterfield mud. For the next two hours, runners in teams of two met the same fate, covered in head to toe in wet, grimy dirt-filled mud – not one participant left the park’s confines without taking part of it with them.

“I believe this race has been going on since 2003,” said Monroe once again. “The crowd’s always been tremendous, and everybody’s been very supportive of the race.

Probably 50% of the racers are repeat racers, and they come here year after year, so they know how much fun it is. They enjoy it.”

To learn more about the Muddy Buddy cause, visit www.muddy-buddy.competitor.com and keep posted on events around the country.

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