FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — More than 300 runners took to the streets and trails of Fort Leonard Wood Saturday for the 21st Marine Corps Volkslauf 10k Mud Run.
The race marked the return of the event after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Beginning at what’s called Car Wash Hill, near the Auto Skills Center, runners traversed paved roads and wooded trails along the 6.2-mile course, that ended with a waist-high water crossing to get to the finish line at Happy Hollow recreation area.
“The Marine Corps conducts this event to increase our integration with the local community,” said Marine Maj. Aaron Meek, operations officer for the Fort Leonard Wood Marine Corps Detachment and one of the organizers of the event. “This race is great for anyone who wants to push themselves while participating in a great fun run, or for groups who want to enjoy the outdoors here at Fort Leonard Wood.”
The overall winner, with a time of 56:01, was Preston Parry, who was competing in his third Volkslauf. He said he ran the race in 2017 and 2018, as an Army dependent, before his father’s retirement two years ago. This year, he traveled from his home in Nebraska to participate.
“This is more fun than a street race 10k,” he said. “Those races can be kind of boring. Here, you’re running, jumping and swimming, so your mind stays busy.”
He said his favorite part of the event was the river crossing because it is what makes the race unique, and the hills were the most challenging part — especially coming from a relatively flat location.
“There aren’t many hills (in Nebraska),” he said. “It’s pretty flat, so they are definitely the biggest challenge.”
He advised future participants to train well before competing.
“I made sure I was running at least six miles or more every day, so when I came here it wasn’t too bad,” he said.
Army spouse Jenni Sherman took second place overall, and was the first female to cross the finish line, with a time of 56:29.
Sherman has been living at Fort Leonard Wood since 2012, and has been competing in the race since 2016. She said she enjoys the challenge the event provides, and, like Parry, the water crossing is her favorite part of the event.
“The course has a little bit of everything,” she said. “It’s a 10k, but it’s hard because it’s mostly uphill and has good elevation. The trail is easier on my body — I do road running and it’s terrible.”
She credits her finishing time to the lack of obstacles included in this year’s event, and said activities like push-ups and monkey bars have slowed her in the past.
As a civilian, an added benefit is the friendly competition with members of the military, she said, and she is excited to be counted among the winners this year.
“I love beating them,” she said. “This may be my last year, so I’m glad I finished first.”
(Editor’s note: Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office, contributed to this article.)