Monthly Archives: September 2013

Eye of the tiger: Runners greet mud, obstacles at The Wild Stampede

By Stephanie Butzer

Heat by heat, runners at The Wild Stampede conquered numerous obstacles, uneven and slippery terrain and lots of mud.

The mud and obstacle 5K, created by Legend Race, attracted more than 150 people of all ages and running levels to the Conservators’ Center grounds.

Just thirty seconds into the race, participants in The Wild Stampede had to face three large and muddy hills. The third heat of runners had to slip and slide their way through the course since two previous groups had made the mounds slick.

Just thirty seconds into the race, participants in The Wild Stampede had to face three large and muddy hills. The third heat of runners had to slip and slide their way through the course since two previous groups had made the mounds slick. All multimedia by Stephanie Butzer.

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.

After the race, participants and spectators were invited into the facility to view some of the Conservators’ Centers animals. Arthur Tiger, a rare white tiger, entertained some guests with his immensity and toothy yawns.

After the race, participants and spectators were invited into the facility to view some of the Center’s animals. Arthur Tiger, a rare white tiger, entertained some guests with his immensity and toothy yawns.

“[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.”

Click here for The Wild Stampede photo gallery.

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Conservators’ Center holds obstacle 5K for the wild at heart

One of the obstacles in The Wild Stampede was for participants to get across a lake via fire house. Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

One of the obstacles in The Wild Stampede was for participants to get across a lake via fire house. All photos by Stephanie Butzer.

By Stephanie Butzer

There are few races that incorporate balance beams, mud hill crawls and rope climbs. There are even fewer that guide runners past exotic animals.

The Conservators’ Center, in conjunction with Legend Race, a local company that constructs unique races, will host The Wild Stampede, a mud and obstacle 5K that runs along the Center’s outer border Sept. 21.

Some of the obstacles will mimic toys in the animal enclosures, such as the A-frame, a common plaything for tigers to run up and down.

Fred Augustine and his wife, Gail Augustine, created Legend Race, a obstacle racing company focused on low costs for intense local races. Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

Fred Augustine and his wife, Gail Augustine, created Legend Race, a obstacle racing company focused on low costs for intense local races.

Fred Augustine, founder of Legend Race, has been constructing the course since late June. This will be the first race the Center has held, and Augustine said it will be a challenge the whole family can enjoy. He said the run is a good mud run for both beginners and experienced athletes.

“This won’t be timed because we want more families to come and tour the animals and get a feel for what’s up here,” Augustine said.

Maximus MacClennen, the Center’s coordinator, said the question his team asked themselves when planning the race was how to make The Wild Stampede more entertaining than the dozens of other mud runs in North Carolina.

“It’s like, you can go out to a field and do your mud run and leave or you can come here, do your mud run and you might hear some lions and tigers while you’re doing it and then afterwards you can take the whole family on a tour,” MacClennen said.

Two groups of Elon University students — Service Learning students and Leadership Fellows — came out to the Center to assist with digging trenches and moving large parts of the obstacles into place Aug. 16 and Aug. 23, respectively.

At a trial run, two men attempt to scale a wooden - and slippery -  A-frame. Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

At a trial run, two men attempt to scale a wooden – and slippery – A-frame.

“The 23 of us not only arrived at the Center with jittery determination, but also with uneasy anticipation,” said freshman Kelly August, a Leadership Fellow. “As a member of the staff explained our tasks for the day, howls and unrecognizable growls sounded in the distance.”

After working for hours on the obstacles, August and the rest of her group were able to see the animals inside the compound.

“The dedication of the volunteers and workers at the Center left the biggest mark on me,” August said. “It was easy for the 23 of us to complain about the heat or the bugs, but to those who give entirely of themselves to this cause, it was just another day doing what they love.”

Freshman Dexter Blank, also a Leadership Fellow, said he thinks the Center deserves more recognition for its animal care, so hopefully the race will bring in more positive publicity.

“The event will be one-of-a-kind and I have no doubts that it will be a success,” Blank said. “I believe that our group was very helpful, worked hard and represented Elon in a very respectful manner.”

The race fee is $50 and includes a walkabout of the compound. Spectators can pay a small fee to enter. Sixty percent of the proceeds go to supporting the animals the Center cares for, including big cats, wolves and binturongs.