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Mud run draws 5,000 to Granite Bay

By: by Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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More than 5,000 adults and kids packed the shores of Folsom Lake State Recreation Area in Granite Bay on Saturday and Sunday for the third annual Merrell Down & Dirty National Mud and Obstacle Series presented by Subaru.

Thousands more spectators came for the sheer spectacle, as the event featured a 5K, 10K and Adventure Kids 100-yard dash and one mile race. Courses included off-road competitions with military-style obstacles, cargo climbs, water crossings and the infamous mud pits. The third year in Sacramento was again the tenth and final stop of Michael Epstein Sports Productions, Inc.’s premiere series and the only event with a Saturday night 5K.

Proceeds benefit Operation Gratitude, a California-based organization which sends personalized care packages to United States military personnel deployed around the world.

Unique to the Sacramento event was also a costume parade and contest at 9 a.m. on Sunday before the first 5K.

Sean Pearson, 26, and Ali Furler, 22, of Sacramento were dressed as Princess Peach and Mario. They said the costume contest was fun and then Pearson hiked up his dress and took to the course.

“I’ve always wanted to dress up as Mario and Luigi, but could never find a buddy to dress up with,” Pearson said. “Princess was her [Furler’s] idea.”

Pearson finished at one hour, three minutes and six seconds and Furler at 1:03:07, costume and all.

“I’m just really glad it’s warm, because I like cooling off in the mud. If I was freezing it’d be a bummer,” said Furler.

From men in dresses and women in mustaches, to entire families, the Merrell mud run series brings all kinds of people and skill levels to the event.

There’s a male and female barefoot 5K and various age groups ranging from ages 13 to 73-year-old Vern Dwelly, who finished at 44:21 in the male 70-74 group.

Steve, 38, and Sally Rindfuss, 36, of Antelope were at the event early with their son Gabe, 10, who later ran in an adventure kids event. Along with friends Michelle Langley, 38, and her son and daughter Louden, 7, and Bristol, 9, also of Antelope, the two families participated in their first Merrell event at the suggestion of another friend, Kristi Kandt of Lincoln.

“Last year was amazing. We did it as a family last year and it was in the mud, which is always fun with two boys,” said Kandt. Her sons Dawson, 10, and Cole, 15, also participated.

As to why Steve Rindfuss competed in his first Merrell event he said, “because my wife asked me to do it.”

“We thought it would be fun and the mud part is going to be absolutely great,” said Rindfuss.

Christian Kash, 34, of San Francisco completed his second Merrell event in Sacramento. His 10K time was 58:48, finishing 39th overall and seventh in the 30-34 age group.

“It’s my favorite race I’ve ever done,” said Kash, who has completed multiple half-marathons and other races. “I like the challenge of this because it involves obstacles and running and sort of breaks up the monotony of just running. I got fifth in my age group last year, which was motivation to come back.”

Michael Epstein Sports Productions, Inc. has raised more than $100,000 to support Operation Gratitude.

With 10 national Merrell Down & Dirty National Mud and Obstacle Series events and registration around $60 a person, another $100,000 is not out of the question.

“It’s the least we can do for such a tremendous organization and the military personnel we are so fortunate to stand behind,” said Epstein.