The countdown clock is ticking for the start of one of the installation’s most highly anticipated events.
The annual Marine Mud Challenge will return to Fort Gordon on Sept. 18, after being canceled last year due to the pandemic.
The challenge, which dates back to 2008 at Fort Gordon, sends participants across a five-mile off-road course up and down hills, through water and mud, while encountering about 30 obstacles.
As with previous years, there is a competitive and noncompetitive category, but unlike previous years, everyone must register as an individual.
The competitive category will be conducted in waves of four people, beginning at 8:10 a.m., with each wave departing 45 seconds apart. The noncompetitive fun run will begin at 9 a.m. and will also be conducted in waves of four people, with each wave departing 40 seconds apart.
Registration is limited to 250 competitive “mudders,” and 750 noncompetitive “mudders.” The decision to cap the number of participants was made largely as a COVID precaution, but also to help achieve an optimal experience for everyone involved.
“In previous years, they’ve had a huge influx of people show up on game day, which is awesome, but it makes it really difficult logistically … and so for those 1,000, we want to make sure that we can offer the experience that they paid for,” said Maj. Christopher Patterson, Marine Corps Detachment commanding officer.
For anyone concerned about there not being a team option this year, event organizers said it should not take away from the overall experience, adding that competitors will still have the opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie that comes along with the challenge.
“I think what we’ll do is we’ll allow people to go to the start line with who they want to after (the competitive waves) take off,” Patterson said.
Those who competed in the past will see some changes this year, beginning at the start line.
“We’re going to run it in a different direction than we have in the past, so it will have a different feel,” Patterson said. “It’s almost literally the reverse of how we’ve done it in the past.”
Some of the old obstacles have been replaced with new ones, and according to the detachment’s senior enlisted advisor, Master Gunnery Sgt. Cayce Nowell, participants can expect more mud.
“We collected feedback from the last time it was held and used that feedback to make some changes,” Nowell said. “One of the complaints that we got was it’s a mud run, but there’s not a lot of mud, so we’re trying to fix that issue.”
“We were limited a little bit just because that’s the footprint we can work with, and the level of effort required to construct new things … but we think it’s going to be fresh for those who participate this year,” Patterson added.
The Marine Mud Challenge is open to anyone 13 and older. There will not be a children’s course this year.
For anyone on the fence about signing up, Nowell has some words of encouragement.
“It’s a unique experience, it’s an opportunity to run side-by-side the Marines and service members of Fort Gordon, and the proceeds and profit go toward helping out your local Marine Corps Detachment,” Nowell said.
“Participants will also experience a great sense of accomplishment upon completion,” added Neil Smith, Sports director, DFMWR Recreation Division.
As of now, the challenge is still on for Sept. 18, but a final decision to keep or postpone it will be made by Aug. 19. Visit the Ft Gordon Marine Mud Challenge Facebook page or go to https://gordon.armymwr.com/view-event/59036 for more information.
Want to volunteer?
If trekking through the mud just isn’t your idea of a good time, consider volunteering.
“For those that want to volunteer to help us out, we would be very grateful for their support,” Patterson said.