By Corrie Seabrook
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.
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.
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.
Tracy 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.”