Normally, a muddy track spells trouble for athletes, but not at the Dirty Dash.
The muddy obstacle course has been held elsewhere but Saturdayâ€™s event at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley was the first time for the Lower Mainland and brought out huge numbers willing to take on the muck.
Langley equestrian therapy program Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities (PRDA) will benefit from funds raised at the Dirty Dash, which bills itself as a cross between a five-year-oldâ€™s mud pit and a boot camp obstacle course.
Participants by the hundreds ran a five-kilometre course that started out with a trek through a mud pit before they climbed walls, went down an inflatable slide, and hit several other muddy sites along the way.
Abbotsford couple Amanda Dixon and Chris Whyment brought a hint of the Highlands as they did the course in kilts.
â€œIt was awesome,â€ said Dixon.
Whyment said he would like to try the course again that day but was wary, having ended up with mud in challenging places on his person.
An outdoor shower allowed people to de-mud on site.
There were also play structures for kids, a concession, souvenirs, and music.
Itâ€™s too soon to know how much was raised for the local charity partner.
PRDA provides equestrian therapy for people of various ages with an wide range of disabilities, from autism, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome to anxiety, paralysis and acquired brain injuries. The non-profit receives no provincial or federal funding and relies on corporate and individual donations to subsidize 75 per cent of the cost for clients.
Thunderbird was approached by Dirty Dash, a Salt Lake City based outfit, about hosting the first event north of the border. There are events throughout the United States.
â€œEveryone had a great time,â€ said Thunderbird technical associate Ania Wypych. â€œThere was lots of great energy.â€
Thunderbird estimates that 3,500 people attended the event and the equestrian park in North Langley is willing to play host again if Dirty Dash makes a return to the region.
â€œI did the piglet plunge with my four-year-old,â€ said Heather Seigman, the PRDA administrative coordinator.
She was one of the PRDA folks taking part. Several did the course, including the piglet plunge for little kids.
â€œIt was a great experience and I think a great first time event,â€ Seigman said.
One of the PRDA volunteers was looking for an athletic event and found Dirty Dash, which didnâ€™t have a charity partner. She emailed organizers about considering PRDA.
The association asked its volunteers to help out at the event, sold water balloons, and hosted a concession and information display.
This was the first Dirty Dash in Canada, said Ryan Creighton, the race director.
â€œWe raised a few thousand dollars for charity and helped get people outside and being active by making running fun,â€ he summed up.
The event had about 2,700 registered participants, which is fewer than other events.
â€œBut thatâ€™s just big enough to work out all the little kinks for next time,â€ Creighton said. â€œIâ€™m hoping to get closer to 4,000, or more, people to come back to next yearâ€™s event.â€
That will include parking and traffic control issues. Creighton said he took steps for this first event but more is needed to make things smoother for the public.
Thunderbird is surrounded by single lane roads so traffic was backed up for miles as everyone tried to get there Saturday morning.
When planning he looked at several places, including Aldergrove Regional Park, the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, and even Delta.
â€œBut Thunderbird has more of what I look for in a venue â€“ lots of land, water, and rolling hills. They also have a lot of machinery that makes our setup/tear down very convenient,â€ he said.