This blog was written by Bentonville Ozone Director, Ellie Chase.
|High School student and Leader participants|
It’s not every weekend I find myself scrambling, on hands and knees, through the squashy, rich mud of an animal enclosure in Mulberry, Arkansas. And you better believe I don’t typically make a habit of stomping great distances through pastures, drenched in pond water and mud, my shoes creating a cacophony of water logged sounds at each step. But on April 27th, these moments fit perfectly together in one common occasion. The Hillbilly Pork-Chop Round Up 5k Mud Run set the stage for a day of muddy, messy, dripping, daring, hilarious fun for Ozone leaders and students.
As an Ozone staff, we love the chance to give students new challenges, fun experiences and opportunities to stretch themselves. A 3-mile run with muddy obstacles seemed like a fit for all three, I thought as I signed up high school students from Fayetteville, Rogers and Bentonville, as well as a few other leaders who were up for an adventure. The website promised a day of fun and excitement, yielding a face and feet full of the finest mud water could make and more. I was sold. Students were pumped. We could only imagine what was in store.
On the morning of the 27th, we loaded our 15 passenger vans, dressed in old clothes just waiting mud, and headed south towards the small town of Mulberry and our soggy, smelly destiny. Hillbilly Trail Running, the organization behind the race, sets out to spread their brand of family fun around the region through several running events each year. For this race in particular, we came to discover they’d planned on hoisting us over rope net walls, barreling us down a slip and slide, through pigpens and into a barn filled with hay bales to climb, amongst other obstacles. Between the individual obstacles, there was running. Sometimes in creeks, other times in fields.
While running any distance is often perceived as a serious challenge, students took the opportunity to enjoy completely the race ahead of them. Messiness didn’t wait for the run to begin, as students jumped right in (quite literally) to the mud-fest. Baylea of Fayetteville, who was almost completely covered in mud before the race even began, made certain all her pals embraced the mud essence as well, “Just tackling people in the mud was a lot of fun. There was no point, no purpose to that really, just to have fun and be with one another, getting dirty… AWESOME.”
Running in races, on roads or trails, is a tradition that was passed to me by older members of my family, a tradition that has been carried out throughout the years, and one I have deeply enjoyed passing to Ozone students. There’s a goal to push oneself towards, and that is a wonderful place to teach young people from. Gia, of Fayetteville, was the youngest student to join us on the run, accomplished much during our event, “I’ve never run a 5k before, so that’s probably the longest I’ve ever run. It was cold and wet… but eventually I will do a race again.” Elyssa, of Bentonville, finished the race with excellence and expressed her growth from pushing herself throughout the event, “I was challenged because I’ve never run a 5k. I kept going even when I was tired and I felt like my legs could fall off. I kept going because at the end of it I knew there’d be the reward of having finished a 5k. I’m more eager to do races like this because I know I have that accomplishment of having finished.”
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