Mud runs provide alternative at XTERRA event

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Leigh Collins will never forget her first experience at the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs.

There are pictures to prove it.

Collins, a resident of Birmingham, had so much fun during the 10K race at last year’s XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs that she signed up to do it again this year.

“I loved it,” she said. “It’s a totally different feel from a 10K road race. It seems to be a little more laid back and about enjoying the experience.”

This year’s event is scheduled for Sunday, May 20 at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham. It is open to runners of all ages and skill levels, and there will be four courses available to accommodate the various levels of runners: a 42-kilometer full-marathon, a 21K half-marathon, and the 10K and 5K “mud runs.”

The full-marathon and half-marathon courses get much of the media attention, and rightfully so. Most of the elite runners in the field enter either the full-marathon or half-marathon.

But as Collins will attest, the 10K and 5K courses are challenging adventures for runners who may not want to run longer distances, and the trails are called “mud runs” for a reason. Collins and a fellow runner were photographed with smiles on their faces as they sloshed through one of the deeper mud pits along the course last year.

“I remember it so well because I had new shoes on, and just before it started, some guy said ‘oh boy, you got new shoes on – watch out’ and I had no idea,” she said. “I just ran. At the very end of the course, there was that one big puddle and I went straight into it and it was about waist deep. It was hysterical, and I guess the look on my face said it all because I remember everybody else around there laughing.”

Collins works as a yoga instructor at the Birmingham YMCA, and said any runner is capable of running in the 10K and 5K mud runs.

“I have a stepdaughter who is running the half-marathon, and that’s probably for the more competitive runners,” she said. “The 10K is perfect for anybody who just wants to go out there and have fun … and get their shoes muddy.”

Online registration for all distances is available at Xterraplanet.com/xduro/oakmtn.html.

The XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs are being held in conjunction with the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships and XTERRA Southeast Championship.

The triathlons will be held at the same location on May 19, followed by the trail runs the following day. To find out more about the weekend of events, please visit Xterrapelham.com.