Muddy footrace makes Anchorage debut Sunday at Kincaid Park

Mike Nesper
David Hulen

A giant slide, a high wall and a cargo net are just a few of the obstacles thousands of participants at Anchorage's first Mud Factor event could encounter as they make their way along a 5-kilometer course Sunday at Kincaid Park.

They'll also encounter $10 parking fees and $5 gear-check fees, and anyone who wants to watch will be charged $10 spectator fees.

And there will be plenty of mud, of course.

The untimed run is not a race, said Grayson Swift of California, co-founder of the for-profit events.

"Our event is designed to be seriously fun," he said. "Anybody can do it. You don't need to be a top athlete."

Mud Factor hosts runs in about 16 different states each year, Swift said. Each course has a few of the same obstacles, he said, but they build unique ones at every venue. Crews will continue to tweak the course until about an hour before the first wave of participants start at 9 a.m.

"We don't stop," Swift said.

While participants can expect to be covered in mud, Kincaid's course will feature fewer and shallower mud pits than a typical run. All of the mud will be above ground to protect the trails, said event director Scott Davis.

Sharing a mud pit with thousands of other people poses potential health risks, according to Alaska's state epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin. Two years ago, 22 participants in a Nevada mud run suffered severe diarrhea after ingesting water contaminated with animal feces.

No one has suffered an illness in Mud Factor's three years of operation, Swift said.

Still, salmonella, E. coli and tetanus are some of the diseases participants could contract via muddy water, McLaughlin said. He recommends getting up-to-date with tetanus vaccinations and cautions those with open wounds from participating.

"If they already have open wounds before the race, they should consider not racing or discuss with their health care provider how best to cover the wound before the race," McLaughlin said via email.

Runners should hose off immediately following the race, McLaughlin said, and wash thoroughly with hot, soapy water when they get home.

Those suffering from post-race skin infections and/or diarrhea -- especially bloody diarrhea -- should seek medical care and inform medical personnel about their exposure to mud, he said.

Injury is another potential danger.

A 28-year-old man died in April 2012 in West Virginia after another racer landed on top of him in a deep pool of muddy water. That was a Tough Mudder race, which features much more extreme and dangerous obstacles than Mud Factor, Swift said.

"It's not about being so tough," Swift said of his race. "We wanted to make a fun run for everybody."

Mud Factor has a $2 million insurance policy, according to Elizabeth Stanley, the principal administration officer for the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

Mud Factor organizers, which will host a run in Fairbanks in August, will have Kincaid cleaned up by Monday, Stanley said.

"We have to leave that park like we were never there," Swift said.

The municipality of Anchorage charged Mud Factor $10,000-$13,000 to utilize Kincaid, Stanley said. Saturday's Alaska Run for Women paid $12,000 for use of the Coastal Trail, she said.

As the permit holder, Mud Factor is allowed to charge for parking, which will help cover the cost of security and traffic control, Stanley said.

Participants -- about 6,000 were signed up as of Friday -- can register Sunday during the event at Kincaid at a cost of $80 for adults, $40 for kids. The race is open to anyone over 4, and one spectator per child participant will be admitted for free, Davis said.

The race has two divisions for kids -- ages 4-7 and 8-13. Each division runs together on a two-mile course that skips some of the larger obstacles, Davis said. Parents are encouraged to run with their kids, he said.

The first wave of children starts at 9 a.m., with waves of 300 following every 15 minutes. Adult waves for participants 14 and older are slated to start at 10:30 a.m.

Reach Mike Nesper at or 257-4335.