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Getting down and muddy

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Suzanne Upchurch says she doesn't like getting dirty and, for that reason, doesn't work in her

yard. She also has a similar aversion to exercise, referring to herself as a couch potato. Clean and

inactive best describes the 43-year-old Pooler resident.

Last Saturday, Upchurch went muddy and active and loved every minute of it.

Upchurch was among several thousand participants in the third annual JCB Mud Run in Pooler.

The 5.6-mile course featured 22 obstacles and plenty of mud and water as it meandered through a

trail in the woods and around the JCB North American headquarters building off I-95. Offered for

the first time this year was an all-terrain bike race in four categories. Proceeds from both events

benefit the West Chatham Lady Bamford Center for Early Childhood Development.

Participants in the Mud Run competed as two-person teams. Teamwork is essential, as times are

based on when both members cross the finish line. Seven hundred forty-four two-man teams

competed in this year's event.

Although she had previously done the Savannah Komen Race for the Cure 5K, Upchurch was

making her first foray into the world of mud running. She had hired a personal trainer to help her get

in shape and recover from a back injury. When she heard about the Mud Run, Upchurch says she

saw it as an opportunity to get off the sofa and do something.

Upchurch and her 23-year-old niece, Megan Seamands, finished in 1:38. She says they probably

lost 20 minutes due to Semands reaggravating a dislocated kneecap and having to walk the last part

of the race. Despite the slower time, Upchurch could hardly contain her enthusiasm as she described

her day of fun in the mud.

"It was exhilarating," Upchurch says. "It was very liberating to roll around in the mud. I thought

it was yucky when I first stepped in some soggy grass, but then I thought to myself, wait a minute,

I'm supposed to get dirty. Once I got going, it was pretty cool."

Upchurch says it was cool along the trail in the woods and there was a nice breeze at times. She

especially enjoyed going down the mudslides. "I felt like a kid sliding down," she says. "I was

flying."

Upchurch wasn't as enamored of the last obstacle - a large plastic tube runners crawled through that

deposited them in a pit of very thick mud that she equated to sludge and that had a strong aroma. "It

was nasty-smelling and gross," says Upchurch, noting that running in mud is hard and more tiring than a regular road race.

Nevertheless, her days of being clean and inactive appear to be numbered. "It's more fun and

challenging than a regular road race," says Upchurch, who plans on doing the Big Nasty Mud Run in

September in Bloomingdale. "I like the idea of putting myself to a new challenge.

Runners from Great Britain did just fine on foreign soil, and mud, capturing two of the top three spots among the 753 two-person teams. Mark Dalkins of Stoke-On-Tent, took the top spot in 37:56. John Duberley, of Savannah, was second in 42:03, and Samuel Lucking, also of Stoke-On-Tent, placed third in 46:26.

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