First there was mud wrestling. Now there’s another way to get mud in your eye — and everywhere else.
Domenick Deutsch, 22, of Pleasant Hills is a fan of mudder runs, a challenging muddy obstacle course that is made to suggest an end-of-world, apocalyptic scene. A retail sales merchandiser for Coca-Cola, Mr. Deutsch has participated in 15 mudder runs since he first got involved in the sport in 2010 at a run at Power Point Park in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
His enthusiasm for the runs have taken him as far away as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., although he said his most challenging was the World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24-hour event with a 5-mile course and 22 obstacles. At the 24-hour event in November, he ran more than 45 miles and overcame more than 200 obstacles in Englishtown, N.J. Runners complete the 5-mile course as often as they can in 24 hours.
In November, he plans to run again in what is billed as the World’s Toughest Mudder in Las Vegas, Nev.
In September, he and two fellow mudder fans are planning an Apocalypse Mudder Run of their own at South Park. Scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Sept. 13 at 30 Corrigan Drive in Bethel Park, the 5K run is geared to beginner and intermediate runners.
The course will follow the hills and trails in South Park, which will be marked with seven to 10 obstacles including walls, natural and man-made obstacles and the Super Slide of Doom," a slide down a hill into a pool of water.
"Unlike some other runs, we’re not a zombie run," Mr. Deutsch said. "Instead of zombies, runners will have to look out for scavengers, who will try to steal anything of value as they try to make it through to the end of the course. The scavengers will look a little scary, but won’t be allowed to push or punch the runners and won’t get any more aggressive than if they were playing a game of tag football. "
Registration for the run opens Monday, and participants must be at least 16 years old. The fee is $55, although groups larger than six get a discount. Day-of-the event registry is $80, and those wanting to act as scavengers can register for $20. Parking and gear check-in is free, but registrants must sign a liability waiver and bring along government-issued photo ID. To register online, visit website www.apocalypserun.com.
"You need not be in good shape to participate and there is no age maximum," Mr. Deutsch said. "I once ran a tough mudder against an 80-year-old man."
A medical tent and paramedics will be on hand. Mr. Deutsch said the run is not a race; “it’s a challenge,’’ and participants can take their time completing the course. The ultimate goal, he said, is the satisfaction of finishing, whether it takes 30 minutes or two hours.
At the start of the run, participants, who can run either as individuals or a team, will receive three flags that will be fastened around their waist with Velcro. Along the route, scavengers will attempt to "steal" the flags from the participants. Anyone who loses all three flags is eliminated, but can still opt to finish the run.
Finishers get a T-shirt, medal, head band and a bag of promotional products.
There will be no designated spectator areas along the course as the run goes through mostly inhospitable terrain. However, friends and family may wait for runners in the Apocalypse Square area near the parking lot.
Mr. Deutsch said he expects anywhere from 1,500 to 4,000 people. A portion of the proceeds go to the Homeless Children’s’ Education Fund.
Mr. Deutsch said tough mudder runs have been taking place in Pittsburgh since 2010, and that Seven Springs has three annually — one in the spring, the summer and the fall. In May, he placed fifth in the Seven Springs run.
"We hope to make our mudder an annual event and that the run attracts a lot of beginners who might want to take advantage of our shorter 5K course."
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: email@example.com.