Splish-splash: Kids run a-muck

Rain makes XC race a challenge, but athletes have a blast in 'mud run'

Runners in the girls race of Saturday’s Warrior Invitational try to find solid footing on the muddy course at Matchett Park.

Jared Leblow of Central High School finished second Saturday in the muddy Warrior Invitational at Matchett Park.

One racer remarked after the Warrior Invitational on Saturday morning: “You usually have to pay a lot of money for this.”

The cross-country race wasn’t technically a mud run, a popular endurance challenge with expensive entry fees, but it could’ve passed for one after rain soaked Matchett Park. Nearly every runner had mud-caked legs and everything from mud mustaches to full-blown mud beards.

The race almost didn’t happen, but it started after a 30-minute lightning delay.

Central cross-country coach Ted Leblow said he modified the course after early morning rainstorms soaked a small bridge.

“Kids could have gone right off the bridge and into the creek,” he said.

There still were weather-made obstacles on the course. Mud, up to six inches deep in some places, made up the remains of the running trail. Small lakes dotted the parking lot, spectator area and the fields throughout Matchett Park. Puddles formed below hay bales set up as hurdles, and runners made a soft splash when they touched down.

Racers plopped down in the grass and washed in the large puddles after the race, trying to wipe off the mud.

A small ravine, set up as a quick down-then-up obstacle, turned into a slide-then-crawl. Racers slipped and skidded down one side, and scrambled on their hands and knees to make it up the other side.

“I literally fell into it and slid,” said Fruita Monument runner Micheala Hoffman, who finished fourth. “Going up, you have to dig in with your hands. It was so hard, but it was so fun.”

Hoffman was the highest local finisher in the girls varsity race, finishing in 20 minutes, 22 seconds, behind a trio of runners from Eagle Valley. Carly Volkmer won the race in 16:51, more than two minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.

Grand Junction’s Taylor Chaffetz finished fifth, her teammate Claire Gehl was eighth, and Fruita Monument’s Taylor Valentine finished sixth.

In the boys race, Zach Walsh of Basalt won with a time of 14:38. Central’s Jared Leblow, the son of Ted Leblow, finished second in 14:50.

“There were muddy patches all over the course, everyone just kicking it up,” Jared Leblow said. “But it was fun. I enjoyed it.”

Fruita Monument’s J.T. McLaughlin was fifth in 15:45, and Grand Junction runner Allen Adair was sixth in 16:04.

Ted Leblow said the weather wasn’t going to derail the race.

“The kids had a lot of fun, I think, and that’s the bottom line,” he said. “We were able to get the race in, despite conditions that are different than anything else they will experience this entire season.”


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