Tag Archives: mud runs

Having Tons of MudRunFun

By Corrie Seabrook

Tracy and Damion Trombley at the 1980s-themed Hog Wild Mud Run

Tracy and Damion Trombley at the 1980s-themed Hog Wild Mud Run

Damion and Tracy Trombley have led hundreds of people into the mud.

A year ago the Florida couple, both 32, founded the growing obstacle race community known as MudRunFun. They’ve since built the group into a traveling running party that shows up 150-strong to races around Florida and the Southeast.

Damion admits it was something of an accident. He was no jock growing up, playing on a Little League baseball team at 8, but never was pushed by his family to pursue sports. After high school, he spent six years in the U.S. Navy as an interior communications electrician. He and Tracy settled in Damion’s hometown of Palm Bay, Fla., after getting married.

In 2011, Tracy, who grew up in Pompano Beach, registered Damion for the Champions Mud Bash, a now-defunct Florida race. “I tried everything I could to get out of it,” Damion said.

Though the heat was brutal and the course forgettable, he enjoyed the goofy vibe of the event, which included a man running in a Gumby suit.

“I just thought that was so cool,” he said.

Tracy Trombley competes at the Gulf Coast Spartan Race last year

Tracy Trombley competes at the Gulf Coast Spartan Race last year

He and Tracy quickly became active in obstacle running. MudRunFun began as a group of people that the Trombleys became friends with as they participated in races all over Florida.  Beer was consumed, and conversation started friendships.

“The group made itself,” Damion said. “But Tracy was the one who started all this. If it was not for her I would have never found out about this sport.”

The group started small, “next thing I knew I had a big group of people,” Damion said. MudRunFun’s first banner was created when one of the group’s elite runners, Joe Rivera, took a piece of cardboard and a marker, wrote “MudRunFun” on it and stuck the board on a car. The group continued to expand through the Facebook page and MudRunFun’s own website.

MudRunFun.com, the community’s website, posts banner ads and race calendar updates frequently. Advertisements for races, event listings, photos and videos keep the group connected as well as display the group’s passion for obstacle running to the public.

The site also provides race directors with ideas for their own races. MudRunFun’s Facebook page allows this muddy community of about 800 people to share opinions on the different events that they compete in every week.

MudRunFun continues to grow in numbers

MudRunFun continues to grow in numbers

The Trombleys know “what works and what does not work” after having participated in over 40 races, Damion says. The couple has consulted for different races and help work the events. Race directors also encourage MudRunFun’s involvement because of the number of people that make up the group.

There are no memberships to join the team, which runs with the colors orange and green close to their hearts. The community was created in Florida and has branched out to California, Alabama, Texas and Michigan.

Florida’s MudRunFun group has elite male and female teams. The elite teams are competitive and often win at the events. The female division is a four-person group with members who can run a regular road 5K in as fast as 17 minutes. The male elite consists of a seven to eight person team that enjoys dominating the courses.

In real life, Damion serves as CEO of MudRunFun and also works for Lighting Science Group as a return materials authorization (RMA) manager. This electric company focuses on discovering new technology with LED lights and even invented the lights that decorate New York’s Time Square ball, which famously drops on New Year’s Eve. Outside of obstacle running, Damion enjoys fishing if his weekends aren’t packed with obstacles.

Trombleys2Tracy is a full-time student who will finish her undergraduate degree in business administration this summer. The couple has two young children, ages 10 and four, who have taken after their parents and run alongside them at events.

Damion attributes the growth of obstacle running to websites that carry information about the sport. “A year ago if you Googled obstacle course racing, you wouldn’t find much. Today you will find endless amount of info and photos,” Damion said.

Even without the athletic background, Damion is passionate about obstacle running. “It’s a different way to exercise without actually seeming like you’re exercising.”


Becoming a ‘Dirty Girl’ (Feb. 9, 2013)

By Corrie Seabrook

IMG_6907DADE CITY, Fla. – As I brushed mud and muck from my hair, arms, and parts of me where I definitely did not want mud and muck, I knew the Dirty Girl Adventure Run was no ordinary 5K race.

On an unseasonably warm Florida morning Saturday in which much of the Northeast was digging out from under a blizzard, I was among the 2,000 or so women who dealt with a dozen or so muddy, moderately-difficult challenges spread over the neatly-manicured grounds of the Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City, Florida, just north of Tampa.

I brought along a friend for moral support, parked in a freshly mowed field, and made my way through the Dirty Girl tent city. Everything was pink, from the tents to the signage to the cases covering the iPads used by staffers to check us in at registration. I picked up my race packet, safety-pinned my race bib (#3207), to my black tank top, and took in the scene.

IMG_6866Dirty Girl is an all-women’s event, marketing to ladies who might be intimidated running with men and those who prefer the all-female camaraderie. Still, as we sat on towel watching the earlier waves finish the race, we noticed families camped out all over the grounds.

Children and husbands, fathers and brothers sat and stood around the finish line. They ate and took pictures. A little girl complained to her mother about dirt taking up residence in her lemonade. Women of all ages conversed with one another about how they would conquer each obstacle on the course. A father held his baby girl and pointed to her mother who had begun to climb a netted obstacle.

IMG_6888As my start time came closer, I took off toward the starting line. Having been sick for two weeks, I began to feel the nerves kick in as I stretched. Groups of women congregated for the 10:30 a.m. wave. While I waited for the race to start I peered at the clothing on the women. The women wore outfits decorated in pink. Some had the group names sprinkled with glitter on the shirts. Others danced around with their tutus bouncing around their waists.

I was to race with my editor’s wife and two of her friends and they weren’t hard to spot – three blondes in black tank tops and short green kilts. Racing as “Team Running Commando,” they’re apparently part of a larger co-ed group that does races throughout Central Florida. They didn’t actually run “commando,” opting for black shorts under their kilts – a wise decision as I’d soon realize.

I felt out of place with my all-black outfit, though by the end of the race the four of us would look pretty much the same covered in mud.

IMG_6845Before the race commenced, Zumba fitness instructors pumped us up for the three miles of obstacles we would have to face. Suddenly we took off. The kilted women and I stayed together. We ran through the horse stables and under bending trees. Women joked about the tiny mounds of cow feces being additional obstacles.

The first couple of obstacles were high, inflatable walls that you crawled up one side and bounced down on the opposite side. Women screamed as one actually plunged you into a pool of mud. There was no escape from the mud; you had to slide down. Another obstacle made you duck and dodge through a maze of cables. Occasionally a foot or hand got caught in the cords.

IMG_6957We jogged from obstacle to obstacle. The mud and water made our sneakers heavy with each stride. We laughed when some obstacles made us feel ridiculous. We cheered each other on when the obstacles scared us and we thought we couldn’t finish.

Though I have a background as a swimmer and play on a water polo team, Dirty Girl was my first running event. In roughly 45 minutes, I trudged through murky water and climbed slippery walls. I crawled through pools of mud and ran through wooded terrain. Before I ran Dirty Girl, I didn’t understand why people were so into this new racing trend. When I crossed the finish line I realized that I didn’t come in first and I didn’t sprint the entire race. I did this race for myself. I wanted to see if I could actually accomplish something that was foreign to me.

IMG_7022My new friends and I probably could have gone faster, but that’s not the point of the event. In fact, Dirty Girl is not presented as a competitive event. There are no timing chips, clocks, or age-group awards. Women run Dirty Girl for the fun of it. The bond with the strangers I met seemed almost instant. There were no judgments on the course. No one put you down or made you feel inferior.

Dirty Girl’s mission is to get women out of their comfort zones and to just have fun. I am a product of that goal, a ‘Dirty Girl’ excited to take on another challenge.

Florida Obstacle Race Calendar Filling…for 2013 (March 7, 2012)

By Pete Williams

A competitor in last summer's Savage Race. Obstacle events are multiplying for 2013.

A competitor in last summer’s Savage Race. Obstacle events are multiplying for 2013.

(Published March 7, 2012) – We’re still not sure if obstacle racing and mud runs are here to stay or just a passing fad. But Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, and especially Tough Mudder already are filling their calendars for 2013, with numerous dates in Florida.

A year ago, Tough Mudder held 14 races in North America, Spartan Race 27, and Warrior Dash 35. That was impressive considering Warrior Dash only debuted in 2009 and the other two races in 2010. This year, the three race series already have combined to schedule 125 events, including races in Canada and Europe, and planning for 2013 is well underway.

Warrior Dash, which has two races in Florida this year, announced a third-annual event at Lake Wales for Feb. 2, 2013 shortly after its January race concluded. Spartan Race officials followed suit after their race in Miami last month and will return to South Florida on Feb. 23-24, 2013.

Expect more ice plunges in 2013

Expect more ice plunges in 2013

Now Tough Mudder has announced dates and locations for a whopping 51 events for 2013. Tough Mudder will have just one Florida event this year – coming to Fort Meade’s Dirty Foot Adventures on Dec. 1-2 – but will visit the Sunshine State at least three times in 2013.

Tough Mudder will make its Miami debut Feb. 16-17, 2013 – just a week before the Super Spartan Race, the eight-mile version of the event which has been held at Oleta River State Park in North Miami the last two years. Tough Mudder also will come to Jacksonville on May 18-19 and visit the Tampa Bay area for what will be the third time, moving its date from December to Nov. 2-3.

Obstacle races, which feature 12 to 30 challenges over a 3-to-12 mile course, have exploded in popularity in the last 18 months, especially among the coveted 21-to-35 demographic that’s generally underrepresented in distance running and triathlon. Marketed to groups and featuring lively post-race festivities with free beer, obstacle races have thrived even amid a difficult economic climate. Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and Warrior Dash each should gross more than $40 million in 2012.

The races have inspired numerous competitors, including several Florida-based promoters. Savage Race, which drew 2,000 athletes to its inaugural event in Clermont in August, is expecting 3,500 for its second race on Saturday, also in Clermont.