MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Running through the terrain, the air was chilled and she could feel the mud dripping off her legs, arms and face. Her hands were covered in the thick, dark gunk, looking as though she were wearing gloves. Her shoes felt heavier and there was even mud between her toes, but she kept running. Just as she and her team thought they had seen the worst of it, they turned the corner and saw their next challenge, a two foot deep trench, filled with brown mud and murky, ice cold water. They knew they had to crawl through it. Sgt. Carmen Pilman began to wonder what she had gotten herself into.
“This was my first mud run ever and I was not expecting it to be like this,” said Pilman, adjutant non-commissioned officer, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School. “It was freezing cold, crazy muddy and I had so much fun.”
Approximately 800 Marines, family members and other DOD personnel ran in the Coyote Mud Run Oct. 26 and 27, held at Del Valle Field. They faced a 6.2 mile-long course that featured 29 obstacles including wall climbs, muddy low-crawls and an ice bath.
“The course was designed to make the runners think it was different than it was,” said Cpl. Yamil Tomassini, embark chief, MCCES. “We kept all the good stuff in the back, that way when they started running, they wouldn’t have a clue what was coming up.”
The Combat Center's first mud run took months of planning and help from multiple units and organizations on base.
“We started building the course around October 15th,” Tomassini said. “We started with laying out the route and everyday we would have to re-grade it because the wind would come and make the path not as visible. October 18, we started moving the obstacles in. We had to build them on site because we were using 6 inches tall by 6 inches wide beams at 16 feet long to transport a fully constructed obstacle all the way down there would have been near impossible. Then we graded and police called the entire route, to get rid of large rocks and any other hazards.”
With the help of other Combat Center units, MCCES was able to turn areas of the Combat Center's dry desert land into mud trenches, slides and hills.
“The Monday before the race, we had CLB-7 start soaking the ground,” Tomassini said. “We knew it had been dry for a while and it would take a while for the water and mud to start building up.”
CLB-7 tested the water used to soak the ground, beforehand, to ensure it was potable, Tomassini said.
“They supported us through the week and they came in at 3 a.m. both days and soaked the ground until the the race started at 7,” Tomassini said. “We can't take all the credit because without them supporting us with water, we wouldn't have had a mud run.”
Corpsmen from 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, offered a helping hand by being stationed at every other obstacle to ensure safety and tend to injuries.
Participants were grouped in waves and released 15 minutes apart to ensure the obstacles wouldn't become too crowded. The run took approximately four hours for all participants to run through, each day. When they crossed the finish line they were able to rinse off, eat and enjoy festivities such as bounce houses, games and music.
“That last half mile was really tough,” Pilman said. “By that time, all the mud was drying and caked everywhere. It was stuck in my hair, in my clothes, in my eyes. Finishing the race was the best feeling ever. Well, and rinsing out all the mud.”
“I would ask people what the best part was and some would say, ‘The ice bath.’ and I’d ask what was the worst part. Some would say, ‘The ice bath,’” Tomassini said. “So, people had different reactions but all together they loved it, even the kids.”
In addition to the 10k, there was a kid’s mud run offered, making the event suitable for the whole family. The kids course was a one-mile course with 10 obstacles that were smaller versions of the obstacles on the 10k. They got to do windows, up-downs, low-crawls and tire hurdles.
“The satisfaction people got out of it was what made all the work worth it,” Tomassini said. “The first year is always going to be the hardest year to run but now we have all the obstacle and the groundwork laid, so next year will be even better.”