MANKATO — They came, they saw, they got dirty.
The third annual Mankato Mud Run took place up and around Good Counsel Hill Saturday and, according to race director Randy Knutson, everyone survived. The elite 5K race drew the most competitors and, while most crossed the finish line exhausted, there will a lot of smiles at the end.
"It was the largest field we've had," Knutson said. "We had 1,300 people today. The first year we had 560 and last year it was 1,160.
"There were 102 volunteers and we ended up throwing away 400 pairs of shoes at the end. Let me tell, those are heavy. Some people just took their dirty clothes off and left those, too."
It is believed all those clothes-tossers had a second, clean set to change into. The Mankato Police Department had not reports nudity in the area late Saturday afternoon.
Sixteen-year-old Rebekah Kolstad was a first-time competitor Saturday. It was obvious from her tired but wide grin at the end that she enjoyed herself.
"It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be," she said. "The hills were the killers."
Kolstad entered the race with Savannah Quandt and Ali Schreiber, two friends from Mankato East High School. Schreiber is a freshman and Quandt just graduated in June. All three were first-time entrants.
The Mankato event is basically a 5K with a nasty streak. Instead of just running on a relatively flat service ala most 5K's, this one included a series of obstacles, many of them something similar to what you might see at a Marine boot camp.
The races concluded with two large mud pits to be negotiated. On the first, competitors simply jumped or walked into the pit. On the second, they swung on ropes Tarzan style and plopped into the mud.