Church run gets down and dirty

GENOA – Sam Matkovich couldn't help himself. After running through a mud pit, Sam, 9, of Genoa, stopped and went back to slide through it head first.

"It was so much fun I had to do it again," he said.

Sam was one of 120 people, ranging in age from 8 to 63, to run in the first Mud Run for the King on Saturday. The run was sponsored by Crosswind Community Church in Genoa.

The event was the brainchild of Jonathon Brust of Genoa, a chuch member who wanted a family-friendly mud run, one that didn't involve alcohol or scant clothing.

"It was a killer time with the family," he said. "Since there wasn't one out there, I wanted to make it."

Church pastor Jim Freund said proceeds from the run will benefit the Children's Home + Aid Society in Rockford and an orphanage the Four Square Church sponsors in Cambodia.

"Orphanages are always on our hearts," Brust said.

There was a 5K run for adults and a 1K for kids. The course included 18 obstacles, including a muddy field to run through, a muddy pit to crawl through, hay bales and an open field.

"It wasn't easy," Logan Bankson of Kingston said. "It definitely pushed me."

Bankson's task was made even more difficult by his costume – he was dressed as his grandmother, in a full-length dress with a purse, for a costume contest for racers.

Freund didn't run the course himself – he said he was too busy supervising the runners, especially near the front of the church, on Cherry Road. He joked that even though he hadn't run the course, he probably ran just as far keeping things moving smoothly.

Ali Alsup and her sister Liz Anderson, both of Genoa, said they've done 5K runs before, but never a mud run. After heavy rain the night before, Anderson said her feet squished through even the drier parts of the course.

"It seemed like a lot of fun, and it was for a good cause," Alsup said, examining her mud-crusted fingernails after she finished the race.

"We thought this was a fun way to mix it up," Anderson said.

LaVerna Lyons of Kingston said she heard about the run at Brett's Run, the Genoa Days 5K, the weekend before. She then asked her friend, Alta Hadley of Genoa, to look into it.

"If she wants me to check it out, she wants me to do it," Hadley said with a laugh.

Co-workers Emily Schramer, Heather Richard and Jessica Nebout, who work together at Curtis Orthodontics in Sycamore, said they always run in the Sycamore Pumpkin Run, and decided to try their first mud run together.

"Since we all work together, we run together," Richard said. "Some of the obstacles were challenging, but it wasn't a hard run."

Elannie Hernandez, a veteran runner who drove out from Chicago for the event, said she liked the course on the church grounds, because it was different from most 5Ks she runs.

"I really like the obstacles," she said.

One of the run organizers, Matt Krueger, said the church hopes to make the mud run an annual event.

"It was a wonderful day," he said. "We had great weather."

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