Fundraisers aren’t afraid to get dirty

3,000 runners took part in a muddy race to raise money for MS.

Participants in the Mud Run MS Twin Cities crawl through the last obstacle in the 10k obstacle course Saturday afternoon at the Trollhaugen Ski Resort in Dresser Wisconsin.

Erin Westover

Participants in the Mud Run MS Twin Cities crawl through the last obstacle in the 10k obstacle course Saturday afternoon at the Trollhaugen Ski Resort in Dresser Wisconsin.

Ian Taylor

DRESSER, Wis. âÄî Wet mud splashed as the final wave of runners left the starting line.

Three thousand registered runners ran through 10 kilometers of mud, climbed cargo nets and even jumped over a fire pit to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis cure research.

Mud Run MS Twin Cities is an annual event organized through the Minnesota chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Mud Run LLC. Participation costs between $40 and $60 depending on registration time, and each runner is expected to raise an additional $100.

âÄú[Most] people raised more than that,âÄù said Anna Kucera, senior marketing manager for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Mud runners raised $500,000 this year âÄî double last yearâÄôs total, Kucera said. She said all of the money will go toward research for a cure to multiple sclerosis, as well as to programs and services for people affected by the disease.

âÄúThe coolest thing is people are having the time of their lives, but itâÄôs not just about having fun, itâÄôs about making a difference,âÄù Kucera said.

Jason Owens, a University of Minnesota graduate student, participated for the second year in a row. He said the heat was much more intense at this yearâÄôs race and the mud that caked his shoes added to the difficulty.

âÄúCarrying 20 pounds of mud in a six-mile run is almost impossible to prepare for,âÄù Owens said.

He liked the challenge of the race but said he has other inspirations for competing.

âÄúI met a couple who had driven all the way from Milwaukee to run for their son, who has MS. I felt proud to start by [that] couple,âÄù Owens said.

âÄúI like to do some races every year, one thatâÄôs challenging and for a good cause,âÄù said Owens.

Mud and dirt cover every inch of the obstacle course. Runners who trek through it often get rid of their shoes by throwing them in a designated pile after finishing the race. Shoes are gathered, cleaned and donated to charities. Kucera said the mud was so thick one year it sucked the soles off of her shoes.

Paul Courtaway, the raceâÄôs executive director and designer of this yearâÄôs course has a personal connection to the fundraising cause. One of his best friends has MS, he said.

Courtaway started the Original Mud Run company specializing in creating mud runs for local charities 14 years ago. In 2007, NMSS asked him to create an event. It was then that he began a âÄúcrusadeâÄù to rid the world of MS through mud runs.

 âÄú[ItâÄôs] about bringing a community together to be a part of changing peoplesâÄô lives,âÄù Courtaway said.

Courtaway said this run is the biggest and most difficult obstacle course in the world.

âÄúEveryone should try to finish the course. The harder you try, the harder [the race] is,âÄù he said.

Kellie Greskowiak didnâÄôt complete the course but said she enjoyed it.

âÄú[I had] so much fun, really bummed not to finish,âÄù Greskowiak said.