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updated: 7/31/2011 5:49 PM

Muddy Buddy race helps challenged athletes

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  • Daniel Gonzalez, 18, treks through the mud pit at the Columbia Muddy Buddy Chicago bike and foot race competition on Sunday at Indian Hills Farm in Gilberts.

       Daniel Gonzalez, 18, treks through the mud pit at the Columbia Muddy Buddy Chicago bike and foot race competition on Sunday at Indian Hills Farm in Gilberts.
    Kristin Ackmann | Staff Photographer

  • Several racers donned loud costumes at the Columbia Muddy Buddy Chicago bike and foot race competition on Sunday at Indian Hills Farm in Gilberts. Organizers said they encourage this, since they always want the race to have a fun atmosphere.

       Several racers donned loud costumes at the Columbia Muddy Buddy Chicago bike and foot race competition on Sunday at Indian Hills Farm in Gilberts. Organizers said they encourage this, since they always want the race to have a fun atmosphere.
    Kristin Ackmann | Staff Photographer

  • A group of bikers start the Columbia Muddy Buddy Chicago bike and foot race competition at Indian Hills Farm in Gilberts on Sunday, which raised funds for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

       A group of bikers start the Columbia Muddy Buddy Chicago bike and foot race competition at Indian Hills Farm in Gilberts on Sunday, which raised funds for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
    Kristin Ackmann | Staff Photographer

 

Every year, Arlington Heights residents Jessica Hutchison vows to take on an athletic challenge along with her cousin Jaclyn Marks of Tinley Park. After tackling a half marathon last year, the pair mistakenly thought the Columbia Muddy Buddy Chicago race held Sunday in Gilberts would be a bit less work.

The 6-mile obstacle course is set as a team bike/run event, where partners leapfrog past each other to get to the finish line.

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"We did the half marathon and we thought this would be easier," Hutchison said. "It was not."

For approximately the first mile, one partner rides a bike and the other runs. When the biker hits the first obstacle, he or she drops the bike, gets over the obstacle and runs the next leg. The runner catches up, gets over the obstacle and digs the team's bike out of what has probably become a large pile. In the end, the team finishes together by crawling through a giant mud pit.

Besides the mud, obstacles this year at Indian Hills Farm in Gilberts were a rock wall, a fog maze, an inflatable hill and a slide.

"The everyday athlete is looking for something a little more exciting than your average road 5K," said Jamie Monroe, Muddy Buddy series director.

But Monroe said it's also the chance to create an experience with someone else that brings people in.

That's a major motivating factor for Ryan Cooney, of Arlington Heights, and Kasey Swanson, of Libertyville, who raced for the second year Sunday -- this time decked out like chickens.

"It's a lot of fun to dress up and get silly," Swanson said.

The pair said they have raced in several mud events in the last two years, but never before with helmets covered in felt to look like chickens.

"We always dress up, even if it's not a costume race," Cooney said.

Bob Babbitt is the founder of the Muddy Buddy race, which is a national event that will be held at 16 different sites this year. He was dressed as a frog Sunday, drawing attention to the leapfrog style of the race.

"I always wanted to to have a feel of family and fun atmosphere," Babbitt said.

The race started at 7 a.m. with several waves until about 10 a.m. when the last of the adults finished. Then kids were given their shot at the mud pit with a sprint distance race. Proceeds go to the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps those with physical disabilities enjoy success in sports.

Visit muddy-buddy.competitor.com for more information about future races.

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