By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
TREASURE COAST -- The sun was shining, sneakers were doubled-knotted, racers were pumped, and my practically luminescent coral running shoes were one of the many pairs toeing the line at the Treaure Coast's first Courage Challenge mud and obstacle race last weekend.
It wasn't my first mud run; I've participated in a couple Warrior Dash races in Texas and Florida, but both required one to two hour drives before and after the race. This inaugural mud and obstacle run was just down the road and I wasn't going to miss out.
This was, however, my first race longer than five kilometers. See, despite the fact that my dad is an avid runner, I am not. He coaches track and cross-country at my old High School and runs marathons in under three hours, but I guess passion and ability for the sport are not hereditary.
But I lace up my shoes and hit the pavement anyway because I know it's good for me and I do love a challenge, especially if it involves mud, sweat or feats of strength and agility. Hence the mud runs.
My husband Josh and I ran it together (and ran the distance we did), as we have all of our previous obstacle courses. We stuck together, encouraging one another as we pulled ourselves over wooden barricades and climbed to the top of a very slippery cargo net. We encouraged our fellow runners, too, as we passed them or they us on the sometimes long stretches of trail that connected obstacles.
They started out easy with balance beams and low hurdles then increased in difficulty. We were warned to watch out for snakes and alligators as we swam across a creek, used a rope to climb a barrier then slid down into muck on the opposite side, and scaled a sheer wall that required quite a drop from the top.
It was a challenging course that twisted and turned through Halpatiokee Park and wasn't for the faint of heart. The course required stamina and a healthy lack of fear to make it over some of the obstacles. Hence the moniker "Courage Challenge."
But none-the-less, runners of all ages and athletic ability participated and event co-organizer Jennifer Camp said "It was really great to see all different types of people out there coming together to do something empowering."
That's what it's about, after all: pushing yourself to the limit, feeling that sense of accomplishment, and pumping your fists in the air in victory when you cross the finish line. Oh, and the race medal and T-shirt proclaiming, "I have the courage."
Close to 1,000 people participated in last weekend's event and Ms. Camp said she hopes to increase that number at future events, including the second annual early next year. And next year it will be even bigger and better with more mileage and tougher obstacles for the serious obstacle course racers out there.
Camp and business partner Travis Humphreys are nailing down details for other races this year, too, though not as nearby as Halpatiokee.
For details and dates for upcoming events, keep an eye on www.couragechallenge.com. If you joined me at the race and haven't taken a look at your finishing times or race photos yet, check out www.splitsecondtiming.com for all the details. If you didn't run, there's no better time to start training for the next one.
I have the courage. Do you?