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Mud run raises money for charity

W_-_Swamp_Dash_IMG_0120_copyBilly Neilson (right) jumps down the last few hay bales, just one of 19 obstacles faced by competitors in the Swamp Dash and Bash on Saturday, April 21.

ALACHUA – Mud stained the clothes of racers as they crossed the finish line. It was hard to tell if the stains were from crawling under barbed wire, sliding into a pond of muddy water or simply running a four-mile race through Windy Hill Farm in Alachua.

Gainesville resident Judith Bellaire, 32, said she hadn’t run anything like this race.

“This is kind of a crazy way to start,” she said as she and her fellow runners examined the wall of hay barrels they had to climb over.

Fellow runner and Gainesville resident Shane Philhower, 35, said it didn’t really matter about the time in this particular race.

“Even if we did horribly, at least we can say we did it,” he said.

The Swamp Dash and Bash featured 19 different obstacles for runners to overcome on Saturday. The obstacles ranged from balancing on a thin wooden plank above a pond to climbing over 10-foot walls.

The run was created to benefit Shand’s Children’s Miracle Network. According to event coordinator LaVonne Rembert, the benefit mud run raised $13,000.

Swamp Dash and Bash was founded by Rembert and her husband Jonathan. Jonathan Rembert also runs Start 2 Finish Race Management, which specializes in race organization and time keeping.

The first Swamp Dash took place last November, and 180 runners attended the event. This time, the number tripled in size, bringing in over 600 competitors.

At least one of those runners didn’t go completely willingly. Tanquyen Nguyen, 25, of Gainesville, and Caryn Nichol, 30, of High Springs, wore matching Elmo T-shirts. Nguyen said she went at the request of Nichol, who was, after all, the birthday girl.

“She hates me right now,” Nichol joked.

Both women finished with a time of one hour and 22 minutes.

Between dragging a cinder block across a dirt field, climbing a cargo net and climbing monkey bars, the average time for the race was well over an hour.

Different racers had various techniques for preparing for the race. Some had run similar races before, and others had never done a 5k. Lawtey resident, Leslie Stroud, 33, said she did a P90X routine five times a week to prepare. She finished at just under one hour, placing her in 10th place in her age group.

As racers crossed the finish line, they were greeted with live music. The familiar chorus of “Tuesday’s Gone” echoed from Jamie Davis and his band.

The racers who weren’t as lucky to be at the finish line yet, didn’t hear the music, but were encouraged by fans and spectators lining the course.

Amanda Prokopi saw the thin plank above the pond, and just dove in to swim around it instead of taking her chances, as her family cheered. She finished with a time of one hour and 12 minutes, placing her 25th in the overall female competition wave.

Her 4-year-old son, Rivers, said he thinks he could do the race, but he wouldn’t have gone in the water. “I don’t like snakes,” he said.