Sheila Rafliff emerges through the bottom of a bridge across the Marine canal to battle water up to waist high and unexpected holes beneath the surface. Rafliff took part in individual competition at Saturday’s Dirty Devil Dog Mud Run at MCLB-Albany. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY —It was a great day Saturday for a 5K Dirty Devil Dog Mud Run, and that made for a lot of happy, muddy, physical achievers at MCLB-Albany. It was the second straight year for a 5K run at the base, but last year was uncomfortably cold, two-time participants said.
“Last year we had runners as young as five years old, to an 83-year-old woman. This year we have Leland Burkhart, who is in his 70s,” said Col. Don Davis, base commander. “They’re just out here having a good time. We’ve toughened (the course) since last year, though. There’s lots of mud and they’ll get covered in it.”
This year’s course featured a trainload of frequent obstacles to strike fear into the hearts of any couch potato, with names like: Island Hoppers, Ammo Can Carry, Mud Crawl, Tire Run, Fire Hose Climb — and of course, the Marine Canal, a mile or so of water and mud resistance designed to make you think of your recliner.
“It’s knee-deep to thigh-deep, so their thighs will be burning by the end,” Davis said. “When they pop out, then they run to the amphitheater, up and down the stairs and have a big finish right there in front.”
Davis said the Mud Run is set for a time of the year that’s “cold, but not too cold,” — just chilly enough to keep the snakes and “the other critters” away.
Any runner with the $40 fee could participate in a choice of three races — the individual competitive run, which began at 10 a.m., the four-person team competition at 11 a.m., and a fun-run at noon. Fun Run participants could pretty much treat the obstacles in the manner of their choosing and were not ranked for finishing their race. Fun runners were, however, encouraged to wear creative costumes, which would be competitively judged.
First place in the men’s individual competition went to Capt. Justin Jacobs, public affairs officer and company commander, who also planned to dress as Big Bird later on and participate in the Fun Run with his wife.
“It was really challenging,” Jacobs said. “There were some great obstacles with a Marine Corps twist to them. Honestly the Canal was the most challenging part. The water was anywhere from ankle deep to waist deep and you never knew when you were going to hit a hole. I saw some frogs but no snakes. It definitely was a good workout.”
Davis said that while runners were charged a participation fee, the objective was to bolster the relationship between MCLB-Albany and surrounding communities. Runners were also encouraged to bring a new toy for the Toys for Tots, program, sponsored by the Marine Corps Reserve, Davis said.
“It’s kind of our three Cs — Country, Corps and Community,” Davis said. “Country and Corps we’re really good at. This is just a good opportunity to embrace the community. This is about putting Albany on the map. it’s about involving Albany and turning Albany around and making the base seem like a beacon of hope. The Fence around the base shouldn’t serve as a barrier to keep the public out. (The public) can say ‘you know, that’s something that brings a lot of joy to Albany and a lot of opportunity.’”
Davis said that the turnout for this year’s Dirty Devil Dog Mud Run was a little less than expected. He blamed it on the Auburn-Georgia football game, planned for the same day.
“People around here are such football fans,” Davis said. “I know a few people who ran last year but not this year because they’re going to the game. I suppose that next year when we pick the day, we’ll try to avoid the Auburn-Georgia game.”
Second place in the men’s individual competition went to Thomas Langstaff, with Daniel Ledford picking up the third place award.
First place for individual women went to Anastasia Millerd with Stephanie Fowinkle taking second and Renee Hunter placing third.
In team competition, first place went to The Devil Dogs: Sgt. Cameron Perry, Sgt. Aspen Thompson, Sgt. Aubrey Wilson and Cpl. Franklin Good.
Second place went to the Lynch Team: Carey Lynch, Jimmy Lynch, Sarah Lynch and Alexander Santana.
Third place in teams went to Dual Threat: Jeff Bruce, Rodney Bowers, Chelle Harrell and Paige Peavey.