Ryan Sparks
Curry Coastal Pilot

Nearly 40 runners from across Oregon and beyond braved harsh rainfall to compete at the second Rogue River Rampage mud run along the bank of the Rogue River in Gold Beach this past Saturday.

"The weather worked out perfectly: We had more mud than last time," said Gold Beach Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandy Vieira. "There was a lot of excitement from all the people that came out. The consensus was the participants had a blast and it was a lot of fun."

The deluge that arrived on Saturday is considered perfect weather for a mud run, though it did leave the track more wet and less muddy.

"With the rain, we had more rain to silt ratio in the puddles. So it was muddy but it wasn't stick-to-you muddy, but we can fix that in next year's race," said Vieira.

About half the field was made up of Curry County runners, while the other half had athletes coming from as far as Walnut Creek, Calif. to compete.

"The river was a little flooded so you are running in water sometimes a foot deep," said Maarten Von Otterloo, of Walnut Creek, who finished third in the men's race. " if you get really muddy and wet you'd liketo feel hot. Some of the runs I've done you are actually swimming in mud. Here, the water was fine and as long as you are running you are warm."

The course, which spans from Huntley Park west to Jim Hunt Creek and back, is a 4-mile course that sports eight obstacles, such as a tire run and rope swing, and challenges runners with its different terrains, all set along the beautiful backdrop of the Rogue River.

"It's a single track and out in the middle of nowhere so it puts the wild in wilderness," said Jari Robberson, of Yreka, CA.

Robberson, who compiles results and stats for the Yreka High School cross country team, has run in several mud run races in Northern California and Oregon and says she enjoys this race as much as any other.

"It's cool to come to a smaller track like this. I was pleased with my race mainly because I got fifth place overall and I was pretty happy about that. It was a great experience, the race was really fun and the glass float award (for second place) was really cool," she said.

For others, like father-son duo Rian and Jonathan Fechtel of Eugene, the race was a chance to bond as well as enjoy the Rogue River.

"We wanted to get a good starter race for him (Johnathan), and it was a good excuse to get the RV out and get a vacation going at the end of spring break," said the elder Fechtel, Rian. "To be on the Rogue is awesome. We love the Rogue."

Jonathan, who finished second in the men's youth race, said he was surprised to learn he finished in second place.

"I was like "what?" when I got second place. It was pretty cool," said the 15-year-old Marist Catholic High School soccer player. "It was the first obstacle race I've ever run. I was nervous because it was 4 miles and I never ran that distance before, and with all the obstacles I didn't know what to expect."

Brad Willard won the men's race, finishing with a time of 30:53.

"I think they did a really good job with the track. I was pretty worn out by the time I finished but I was kind of stoked to be in first place," said the 24-year-old from Brookings.

Monica Bowman won the women's race with a time of 35:11, finishing just five-and-a-half minutes ahead of Robberson.

Daren Cuff finished ahead of Fechtel to win the men's youth race with a time of 36:25, and 9-year-old Sarah Nicholson won the women's youth race with a time of 42:53.

Vieira states that with the success of this year's race they are excited to get to work planning next year's event.

"We're all very excited about it. Even after as exhausted as I was after the event, I Immediately went home and started thinking about where I could find surplus cargo nets," she quipped.

If approved, the plan for next year is to make it a bigger, broader event.

"I spoke with the participants and they've given me great feedback," she said. "They want more mud, more obstacles, more climbing along the trail. We are also looking at possibly adding a 10-kilometer run as well."

She continued on to say that they gained valuable experience from this year's race.

"There was definitely more thought we put into it this year, and now with more thought and more attempts, there's more experience gained out of it. Now we are even more set for next year."

The most rewarding part, however, is seeing the enjoyment the participants have in competing at this event.

"As exhausted as we were, it was rejuvenating to see how much fun people had," said Vieira. "Just to see their joy and them recognizing the beauty of the Rogue River and surrounding area, made it worthwhile."

Photo courtesy of Tammy Ross