In the past few years, obstacle races have become increasingly popular and have grown to host millions of participants each year. In an attempt to target and involve the Jacksonville market, Terrain Racing, owned and operated by CoolEvents, will be hosting its first mud run in the city on Saturday, Dec. 16.

“We’ve hosted a number of events in Florida, but this will be our first year specifically in Jacksonville,” Justin Muir, media manager at CoolEvents, said. “Our intent is to bring Obstacle Course Racing events to the forefront of the community and get as many people involved as possible.”

Muir added that the goal of these races is also to elevate the sport of OCR and to broaden the scope of people that are not only interested in the sport, but who also have the desire to participate at a competitive level. In pursuing these objectives, the directors at CoolEvents have aimed to seek out locations which already possess natural features, such as streams, creeks, valleys, hill climbs and more, so that they can enhance the runner’s experience — the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, located at 13611 Normandy Blvd, being one of these locations.

“We work our obstacles into those environmental settings to maximize what we have available and to create the best possible mud run experience for participants to enjoy,” Muir said. “Terrain obstacles are unlike most ‘big box’ OCR events that are currently being hosted. [This means] you won’t find inflatable obstacles here.”

Instead, Muir stressed that participants can expect a very physical event with a local feel — one that will feature challenging obstacles with natural finishes, which will lend to the overall CoolEvents’ environment. Runners can also look forward to testing their abilities by navigating over wooden structures, climbing rocks using hand hopes, scaling natural rope nets and, of course, trailing through tons of mud.

“I am really looking forward to the challenge and camaraderie,” Josh Nowicki, a 34-year-old Jacksonville resident who has signed up to run in the 12:30 p.m. heat, said. “The mud run isn’t really a race to me, its more a really fun event that can be experienced with friends.”

Will it be too difficult?

Although some participants may be concerned that the terrain will be too physically demanding, CoolEvents ensures that there is an option for everyone in the family to participate. For example, early in the morning the event will offer competitive waves for runners looking to put themselves up against some of the area’s best athletes, with cash prizes on the line. Yet, as the day goes on, the event will host open waves for non-competitive athletes who have simply set out to accomplish the goal of finishing the event.

“Some may be participating for a personal best and others may run with a group and use the opportunity for team building,” Muir said. “Others may simply run it as a family because it’s fun. Lets face it, it’s not every day an entire family gets to play in the mud and experience obstacles together.”

Additionally, for the younger children wishing to complete the course (or really just to run through the mud), CoolEvents will offer a completely separate 1-mile course, called “The Mini Monkey” wave, that will include miniature-sized obstacles. Other participation options will include an unlimited laps package and 10k options, both designed for distance athletes who wish to push themselves and test their limits.

“At the time we currently have 2,500 participants and look to push that number up to 3,500,” Muir said.

How to prepare

“The Mud Run Guide offers an excellent articles on ‘Beginners and Mud Runs’ as well as an entire book for those looking to train at a higher level,” Muir said. “As we push to develop the OCR industry, we want to ensure that folks are getting the absolute best information available and Mud Run Guide is a great tool for those seeking information on events, training, and tips/techniques.”

In terms of obstacle training, the site recommends completing a timed series of push-ups and squats, followed by a 1-mile run, jog or walk. However, the Mud Run Guide also stresses that basically, if a participant can walk approximately 3 miles in muddy clothes – they can complete their first mud run.

“I workout four times a week at CrossFit Jacksonville Beach. I think those classes have helped prepared me for the obstacles and the 5k meter run,” Nowicki said.

‘Tis the season

As CoolEvents tours its terrain events nationally, it has to work around hosting races in the winter months throughout the northern states to accommodate its runners. Therefore, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and California make up the majority of this particular brand’s winter schedule.

However, recognizing that December is a time of charity and giving, CoolEvents has decided to place an emphasis on these aspects of its race for the Jacksonville event. In doing so, it will be hosting a food drive for athletes to bring canned and non-perishable foods to the race, and that will be given directly to the Daily Manna Serving Center.

“Our local charity for the Jacksonville event, where proceeds will be donated to, is going to be A-T Children’s Project,” Muir added. “We’ve worked with this charity in the past and they’ve been absolutely wonderful to work with. A-T stands for Ataxia-Telangiectasia and is a rare genetic disease that attacks children, causing progressive loss of muscle control, immune system problems and a high rate of cancer.”

So, if the idea of testing the ability to successfully overcome all obstacles, trekking through the mud and enjoying the camaraderie of fellow racers is not enticing enough, CoolEvents hopes to attract participants interested in helping to give back this holiday season. Expecting thousands of participants, the platform truly possesses a unique opportunity to make a difference in the community.

For more information on the Jacksonville mud run, or to register, visit terrainracing.com/locations/jacksonville.