<b><i>Getting muddy was the order of the day at the annual Swamp Romp, which, thanks to the Army, had a record number of entries</i></b>

MARINE CORPS BASE-KANEOHE, Hawaii - A record number of military personnel braved mud pits and water holes while here, Saturday, for the dirtiest footrace in the islands, with the Army entering more participants than any other service branch.

The largest Swamp Romp, to date, attracted more than 2,500 runners to the Boondocker Building, situated next to the Marine Corps Exchange Annex parking lot. There, six-person teams made up of service members and civilians traversed the obstacle-laden, 5.1-mile course.

Race coordinator Tina Lui credited the surge in numbers to "the Army being in town." In all, 74 of the 447 registered teams were composed of Army personnel only, including those from previously deployed units such as the 8th Military Police Brigade; 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division; and the 84th Engineer Battalion.

Coming in second to the Army, in numbers, was the Air Force, which entered 34 teams.

"Last year, we lost a lot of our numbers to the Army deployments," Lui said. "This year, we did well. It was a success."

Hosted by the Marines' Combat Logistics Battalion-3 unit and Semper Fit Sports, Recreation and Fitness Center, the Swamp Romp brought together people from all walks of life and varying levels of creativity.

Many of the race participants were perfectly willing to tackle the course in Aloha shirts, three-piece suits and prom dresses. One team even chose to wear their underwear over their pants.

Ultimately, the majority of participants just wanted to get dirty by rolling around in a bit of Windward Oahu mud.

"If you don't like getting dirty, what's the point in coming out here'" said Staff Sgt. Gene Lary, 25th Special Troops Battalion, G-6 (communications), and the ringleader of the "Minotaurs," a group of Soldiers sporting orange T-shirts with the motto "Taste the Beast." "That's half the fun right there."

The Minotaurs were the third team out of the starting blocks following the race's 7 a.m. start. At that time, Lary predicted his team would finish the race "in about an hour and a half."

Ultimately, the Minotaurs did even better, crossing the finish line with arms locked at the elbows and grins from ear to ear, in a respectable time of one hour, 13 minutes. The time could have been faster, but in a show of unity, team members decided against leaving a fellow Minotaur behind after he twisted his ankle early in the race.

According to race rules, at least five team members had to cross the finish line together; otherwise, the run would be voided. But crossing the finish line with only five members also meant absorbing a 60-second penalty.

The journey together, however, was much more important to the Minotaurs than their race time.

"We started as a team, and we were going to finish as a team," said Lary, a veteran of multiple biathlons and triathlons. "The time wasn't so important to us. We weren't out here to break any land-speed records anyway."

Following the race, participants first showered before enjoying complimentary snacks and drinks, as well as music from a live band.

Awards were handed out to the three overall fastest teams, the top three teams in each of six age categories, and the fastest team from Marine Corps Base Hawaii units.A-"A?

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16