By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – It hasn’t rained much in the past two weeks, but pockets of the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation property on the banks of Lake Wawasee were plenty muddy.
In the sixth annual running of the Mudtastic Classic, the WACF trails were busy with nearly 200 runners and walkers that weren’t afraid to wear a little muck on a muggy summer Saturday morning.
Put on by the Syracuse Parks Department as its showpiece event of the summer, the Mudtastic is roughly a two-mile course around the WACF property on the west side of Lake Wawasee. But rather than just beating up the trails, the department adds over a dozen obstacles, most containing standing mud. A run through a portion of actual Lake Wawasee on the northeast side of the lot has runners also winding through trail systems that include mud pools and rope ladders.
A tube system on the southeast side of the trails had participants sliding down a pipe over 10 feet long into a foot of muddy water, then having to slog through the muck into another tube and back into a foot of goodness, and finally up a 45-degree incline. Working through another three-quarters of a mile, the end of the course takes them up the infamous ladder and down the slip-n-slide into a finely curated pool of filth happily overseen by former Wawasee wrestling star Raymon Torres.
“I expected a little more mud, but for my first time, this was great,” said Angela Drabenstott, who was still soaked after getting hosed off after the race by the Syracuse Fire Department.
“Pretty much just muddy,” added Logan Drabenstott. “Pretty good day overall.”
Additionally, repeat competitors found the course as challenging as ever. William and Amber Hinton have run the course now three years and enjoyed every minute of it.
“It was really good. I think they changed it up a little to mix it up a little here and there, which was nice,” William said. “One hundred percent we’ll return next year and do this as long as they have it.”
One of the event’s organizers, Darin Lursen, mentioned he and several others had been up most of the morning prepping the course, which needed some extra TLC because of the lack of rain the past two weeks. Lursen also pointed out the event, which was a fun run and technically untimed, was spaced out from five to ten minute start intervals to give some social distance on the course.
“We used a 250-gallon tank and we had to make a lot of trips back and forth so people didn’t just have dirt to play in,” Lursen joked in maintaining the mud. “About the only big difference we had from last year to this year was we dropped down from about 300 people to 200 to help with social guidelines. We also had a lot of people wait until later to sign up, but we understand that.”
The Mudtastic Classic is designed to raise money for the Syracuse Parks Department to reinvigorate youth and senior programs at the community center.