Jimmy Montoya, team leader of the Wounded Warriors, crawls through the muddy obstacle course. “I wanted to rise to the challenge of leading by example,” Montoya said. (Rey Berrones Photo)
Exhilaration and tension swept across Noon Optimist Park. The sun broke through, warming the crisp air and shining upon neon colors, taffeta skirts and an overwhelming amount of team spirit.
Some paced nervously. Some danced with excitement. For some, it would be challenging. For others, it would seem like nothing. Only one thing was certain: No person would emerge unscathed. There would be mud.
Ros well’s first mud run, Roswell Mud, Sweat and Tears, had a great turnout Saturday morning. Although no finite number was determined on Saturday, Barbara Gomez, coordinator of the run, said there may have been more than 300 people, far exceeding the goal of 150. And many runners came from neighboring states like Arizona and Texas, as well as all over the state.
“I had people tell me they were going to go out of town for another run, but decided to stay in Roswell for this run,” Gomez said.
Whether runners were out for competition in a 5K or simply running for fun in the 1.5 mile, everyone was beaming.
Some proceeds of the event went to Operation Wounded Warrior New Mexico, and the Wounded Warrior team started off the races. Husband and wife Kenny and Brandie McMillon, Jennifer Tucker and Jessica Eastman helped make up the WW team. But their group was headed-up by Legion Rider Jimmy Montoya.
“We work together and are pretty close knit,” Eastman said. “So when Jimmy mentioned running for Wounded Warriors, we all volunteered.”
None of them had done a mud run before, but they didn’t seem the slightest bit worried. Mostly they just emitted excitement.
“I wanted to rise to the challenge of leading by example,” Montoya said.
And in their leadership, they were the first to run the course.
A group of girls in matching Wonder Woman outfits, “The Dirty Girls” and “Women O Sweat” were just a few of the groups to follow.
There also was a mother-daughter duo facing the extremes of the mud run. Heather Schmidt and daughter, Celina, dressed alike in curly white wigs streaked pink and purple and their faces peaked out behind masquerade masks.
“We went to the costume store and threw on what we had,” Heather said. “You can be as crazy as you want because no one can recognize you!” Being incognito apparently has its advantages, even in a mud race.
A lot of camaraderie was seen along every point of the course. As runners crawled through and slipped over pits and hills of mud, fought through a bog, crawled through pipes and climbed tire walls, there was constant cheering and team support all around.
Although not everyone was running competively, the elite teams did compete for best times, and coming out on top was New Mexico Youth Challenge, the group who also spent hours helping to set up the entire course.
But even those who ran for fun, with no time or prizes, enjoyed the event.
“Everyone who crosses that finish line covered in mud looks tired, but they all have huge smiles on their faces,” observed onlooker Mike Walsh.
As music kept playing and the Roswell Daily Record took victorious pictures of teams so covered in mud that it was sometimes hard to know who each person was, there was no shortness of grinning. Ultimately, it was agreed that the happiness felt by everyone made the first mud run a success.