By Stephanie Butzer
Heat by heat, runners at The Wild Stampede conquered numerous obstacles, uneven and slippery terrain and lots of mud.
After they finished the race, participants had the chance to walk around the facility and visit the Center’s animals. But there was a great challenge to fight through first.
Runners met their first obstacle — three muddy hills with water on the opposite side — within the first minute of the race. After a half-run, half-swim through a pond, they entered the woods where the obstacles were more difficult and complex.
One of the highlights of the race, as well as one of the hardest tasks, was a lake crossing. Participants had to cross by hanging from a fire hose. Many different techniques were used — some went headfirst or feet-first while others decided to simply swim.
Participant Chris Roach said he had done this sort of exercise before, but this obstacle tested him the most.
“It can be really challenging cause I did it when I went to boot camp for the Army and I remember going across that rope,” he said. “But this out here, it’s like, wow.”
Roach said he had participated in the Greensboro Zombie Mud Run the weekend before and said he enjoyed The Wild Stampede more because of the animals.
“[In the Greensboro race], you felt short-changed,” Roach said. “Here, it’s like you get to see not only the animals, but you get to meet all these different people. Everything here is just so much better. It’s far better than being chased by a zombie.”
Further down the course, the runners experienced obstacles like a log throw and an A-frame. The race ended with hills similar to those at the start and a long flat stretch to the finish line.
“It was great —challenging at points,” Roach said. “You don’t really know sometimes what’s ahead of you so it kind of surprises you.”
After the runners received a medal and T-shirt, many entered the grounds or had lunch, courtesy of Manna Concessions.
Leah Gardener, a participant and graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said The Wild Stampede was her first mud run.
“It was really cool when we passed the animals on the last leg,” Gardener said. “It was really good. They did a great job.”