Adventure racers survive ‘Spartan rash’

SYCAMORE – Members of DeKalb County’s Moose(L)-Up Redemption Club (MURC) recently participated in the Reebok Spartan Challenge at Cliffs Insane Terrain Park in Marseilles.

The event entailed running nine miles along muddy, hilly terrain with obstacles including crawling under barbed wire, scaling walls, carrying logs, climbing 20-foot ropes and bouldering along walls.

While members of MURC have done the event before, this year brought along a new obstacle: surviving “Spartan Rash.” Three of the five participants came down with a case of near-systemic inflammation, intense itching and small pustules resembling runaway poison ivy. In fact, the number of participants reporting similar symptoms – about one-quarter of the race’s participants – prompted the Illinois Department of Public Health to investigate. The IDPH released a statement suggesting poison ivy plants were crushed when some obstacles were constructed, so the oil that triggers a rash was in the mud racers crawled through, exposing them to higher levels than if they had touched a plant. Since racers didn’t realize they had been exposed, they also didn’t wash off the mud right away, the statement said. The department is still analyzing the data it collected.

While that last “obstacle” was the longest and most memorable, the MURC racers will more than likely be back next year for some more fun – and hopefully fewer lingering reminders.

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