Nearly 700 participants turned out to run the U.S. Marine Corps Detachment's 17th annual Volkslauf Mud Run on Saturday, which, for the first time, started at the traditional end of the race near Happy Hollow Recreation Area and ended at what is usually the starting point at the top of Car Wash Hill.

"You go up some hills, and you forget how steep some of them are," said Chris Hartke, who cheered on other runners along with several of his U.S. Navy Detachment teammates after finishing the race. "It wasn't as intense as I thought it would be, but it definitely humbled me. I can't wait to sign up for next year."

The reversed course and other changes -- such as the medal each participant received after crossing the finish line -- proved popular with many runners, who gave the Marine Det. planners a lot of positive feedback, according to Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Breen, who was one of the race coordinators.

"It seems that the big changes we made this year really paid off," Breen said. "Everyone liked the finisher medals. The obstacles and running the route in reverse were all big changes. We may even make bigger changes next year, but that remains to be seen."

Runners were divided into waves, which departed from Happy Hollow every few minutes from 8 to 9 a.m.

Participants ran along gravel trails, up and down rocky hills, along mud-caked roads and across water-filled pits, where some participants lost one or both shoes.

One participant even attempted to complete the race on crutches. Ryan Tran, a Marine who had signed up to run with his friends, said he hurt his foot and was placed on light duty the day before the race.

"They told me, 'no running,' but I wanted to do the Volkslauf," Tran said as he navigated around mud pits midway through the race. "It's actually not too bad."

One aspect of previous races not included in this year's event was a river crossing. Race officials reconfigured the 10k route around the Big Piney River after determining high-water levels presented too great a risk.

Runners still had plenty of challenges to contend with, however, including large obstacles near the end of the race, and, of course, the long slog up Car Wash Hill.

"Finishing up Car Wash Hill was quite a challenge," said Col. Andy Herbst, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, who participated as a member of the Rough Riders, a team which also included Command Sgt. Maj. Tyson Goolsby, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood CSM.

After finishing the race, both Herbst and Goolsby -- a fixture at several area 5k events, including the post's monthly 5k fun-run series -- cheered on fellow participants as they approached the finish line.

"All of the (running) groups were out here," Herbst said. "I saw Team Red, White and Blue, members of Run Blue, Team 413 and others. It was good to see them all here."

The Volkslauf included runners of all ages, including several youth teams and participants. Brian Woolfe, 18, ran his last race as a member of the Pulaski County Young Marines, one day after graduating Waynesville High School.

"I retired today," said Woolfe, who said his future plans include joining the U.S. Marine Corps. "We do (the Volkslauf) every year, but this year they had it backwards. It was awesome. I loved it."

Breen said that nearly 100 volunteers helped to set up and run the race. Volunteers also manned multiple refreshment stations along the route, where participants could get water and fruit.

"There are so many moving parts that require multiple individuals to run it, and this year things went pretty smooth," Breen said. "If we didn't have these individuals, our standard 48 hours of setup prior to the race would take three to four days to set up."

The first-place individual male winner was Logan Thomsen, while Brittany Warf was the first-place individual female winner.

In the Youth division for runners ages 16 and younger, Peter Flowers took first place among males, and Madelyn McDonald was the first-place female winner.

Among the winning teams:

-- The winning Military Male Team included runners Jason Bowers, Jesus Chamorro, Reece Corbett, Jacob Serrano and Nicholas Silva.

-- The Military Female Team category was won by Team Railroads.

-- The Male Team division winner was Team F.

-- The Female Team division winner was Bodyblast 4.

-- The Coed Team division winner was Team Winnebago.

-- The Youth Male Team winner was We the People.

-- The Youth Female Team winner was Muddy Buddies.

-- The Youth Coed Team winner was the Young Marines Team 2.

Complete results are available online at actnowracing.com.