Thousands of participants slid their way up and down the hills at Seven Springs Mountain Resort Saturday while completing the annual Mud on the Mountain obstacle challenge.
Rain earlier in the week combined with the water cannons used to make snow in the winter to saturate the ground and leave runners struggling to stay on their feet while running more than seven miles and traversing 32 obstacles.
Brook Sharpnack, 28, of Washington was the overall winner of the elite heat that went off at 8 a.m. His time was 1:12.58.
He said had done this event before, but not the elite race.
“This is my fifth year doing Mud on the Mountain, but I wanted to see what I could do in the elite race this year,” Sharpnack said. “My goal was top five. I do a lot of half marathons, 5Ks and 10Ks and just wanted to see what I could do here. I was very happy to finish and especially finish first. It wasn’t what I expected.
“I always look forward certain obstacles like the monkey bars and swimming in the pond. As long as they keep those, I will enjoy it. You never know what to expect weather wise from this. The rain last night (Friday) made the course a lot more slippery. The hills were the hardest. I train in Washington where there are hills, but there is nothing like a mountain in your way. The first four miles up hill was the most difficult.”
Jacqueline Flaherty, 28, of Pittsburgh was top female finisher with a time of 1:24.12.
Amanda Parrish, 24, of Morgantown, West Virginia, said she loved all of the mud and was glad her boyfriend’s mom talked her into participating.
“Our group, Team Gast, has done a few different challenges, but this is our first mud run,” Parrish said. “We all thought it was fun. I dove head first into the mud. I love to ride four-wheelers, so I live for mud. I loved how everyone was positive and helped push you through obstacles. It was a good team effort.
“Going through the water at Dunk, Dunk Goose was the worse for me. As soon as it hit you, you were sucking in air and then to go all the way under was cold. I cramped up a bit afterwards, but I pushed though it.”
Craig Nagy of Saltsburg said he does Mud on the Mountain as a personal challenge to himself.
“I’ve done this and other mud runs because I got too old for other competitions so it’s a one-on-one challenge for me,” he said. “This one uses the terrain real well. I did a Spartan race in Vermont and they used the ski slopes there too which makes it tough.
“I like the climbing obstacles like the walls the best and dislike the cold water of the lake. I never look past the next obstacle. When I go up the mountain, I only look at my next step. If you look ahead, you can’t do it.”
Davidville resident Mike Seibert said he participates every year with a group of co-workers from Somerset Hospital.
“Last year was the only year I didn’t do this because I was sick, but I did do a Spartan race,” Seibert, 38, said. “It is a test of strength, endurance, mental stamina, all of that wrapped into one. I don’t mind getting muddy. I train a lot of people who do this, so they kind of expect me to do it too. I don’t mind, but I try to stay ahead of them, because it is tough to go back and hear that I got beat by somebody.”