Philly, you took on the weekend in EPIC muddy fashion. Way to get down and dirty for two straight days, raising nearly $400K! Check out these highlights from MuckFest MS Philadelphia!
More participant photos are coming soon as well!
“You might look at someone, and think, ‘You don’t look like you have MS.’
But what does someone with MS look like? We look like you!”
Walter Clark (his friends call him Spike) knows he might not immediately appear like he is living with multiple sclerosis. But, it has been nearly a decade since he received his diagnosis. Since then, his life has never been the same. He hasn’t let that stop him from living his life though, and from doing all he can to support others who are fighting the same fight.
He began giving that support, and participating in National MS Society events, the spring after his diagnosis. That started with Walk MS and led him to MuckFest® MS Philadelphia the following year! He admits he wasn’t fully prepared for that first run, but that didn’t stop him from coming back again the next year, and the next…and the next!
“After doing it, there’s such a sense of accomplishment. I completed that! You feel great about yourself, and it’s going towards people who are living with this horrible disease.”
Spike loves feeling this sense of accomplishment personally, but also loves to see it on the faces of his teammates as they cross the finish line. And what a team it is! “Spike’s Wolfpack” started with only Spike and two friends, but it’s now grown to include many other family and friends.
They’re in it together!
“I always look forward to seeing people’s smiling faces at the end. They’re so proud. I like seeing everyone getting dirty and laughing and having that comradery. Or that smile when you accomplished something you didn’t think you could.”
He remembers one time specifically where his friend’s mom, who was very afraid of heights, balked when she saw Mt. Muck-imanjaro. She didn’t know if she could tackle the obstacle, but the whole team came together to cheer her on and support her. She made it to the top, then completed the obstacle (and the run!) with a huge smile on her face.
That is what MuckFest MS is all about for Spike: tackling your fears. And of course, having a lot of fun in the mud!
Other than Mt. Muck-imanjaro, Spike also loves the Flying Muckers zip line, The Spinner, Swingset, and Big Balls. (Whatever gets him the muddiest!) Last year, he even did a huge belly flop to start off the run with a splash!
For first-time Muckers, he recommends staying as active as you can leading up to the race. He also recommends bringing extra clothes, a pair of flip flops and a towel to clean up with after you get down in the muck. Come, get ready to get mucky, and know that you’re doing an amazing thing by participating.
Jennifer Martel is a passionate mucker who walks in memory of her father, and we’re so excited to share her MuckFest® MS story with you! Be sure to scroll through the whole post to see pictures of Jennifer and her team.
My senior year of high school was a very memorable one. My mother was pregnant with my youngest brother as I was preparing to enter adulthood. I am the oldest child of seven, with 18 years between me and the youngest. What should have been a year of happy events actually turned out to be a year of mixed emotions for my family in 1991.
My father, who was 39 at the time, began experiencing numbness and tingling in his hands. His walking started to become unstable, almost as if he were drunk. Many visits to his primary care physician resulted in no definitive answers other than the possibility of carpel tunnel syndrome. An MRI was out of the question due to previously being shot by a pellet gun, which lodged a pellet behind his eye. Removal was not recommended and because of the magnetic imaging, he could not risk having the pellet move due to where it had been sitting for several years.
As his symptoms worsened, he made a visit to Brigham & Women’s Hospital. There he met a wonderful neurologist who administered a spinal tap. The spinal tap revealed a diagnosis we had never really heard much of: MS. Not only did my hardworking father of seven have multiple sclerosis, but he had Primary Progressive MS. Within a couple of years he was forced to retire from his textile printing job that he loved.
His symptoms worsened to the point where he needed a cane to help him walk. In 1994 I was blessed to have him still be able to walk me down the aisle and have our father-daughter dance. That was his best with the disease. Following would be issues with incontinence, swallowing and even breathing. In 1996, he was in a wheelchair. By 2008 he was in a long-term care facility. My mother tried to keep him at home but his care became 24/7.
He missed out on so much. He never was able to enjoy his retirement or his 5 grandchildren. His strong heart, the only part of his body unaffected by the MS, finally gave up on August 8, 2013. With his family by his bedside, he peacefully slipped away. I muck and participate in as many MS events as I can in order to honor his memory and the fight against MS. I fight so no child ever has to watch a parent suffer for so many years.
The FUN Mud Run is coming for you, Boston! We sat down with Eddy T. of “The Seacoast Muckers” for an interview, and came out of it knowing this… Eddy is a passionate Mucker, and this event is important to him and thousands of fighters across the country living with MS.
How were you introduced to MuckFest MS?
“I have MS. I was diagnosed 8.5 years ago. Within months of my diagnosis, I was connected with the MS Society. A good friend of mine from high school has MS and well, and he reached out to me and said, ‘I’m reaching out to the Society to get involved, and I’m giving them your name as well.’ So, from there, I’ve been involved with golf tournaments and muck events.”
Why is raising funds for the National MS Society important to YOU?
“The MS Society was the first place I went to gather information; to kind of calm my nerves a little bit and calm my fears. They have so many resources and so much information they can provide to people with MS, whether newly diagnosed, or running into other issues when they live with it.”
Who do you Muck with?
“I run with family and friends. My 14-year-old son does it with me, and a whole group of friends.”
How would you describe MuckFest MS?
“The comradery of everyone there, it’s really a festival, it’s not a competition. There’s music, and really just people having FUN, trying to raise money to help all of us who have MS. It’s a party!”
Eddy serves as co-chair on the MuckFest MS committee and the Board of Trustees for the Greater New England MS Society Chapter. Thank you for all you do, Eddy!
Guest post written by Erin R., a Boston Mucker.
Michael and I have been mucking together for years! We have participated in the past 4 years of MuckFest MS® events in Boston. All of that mucking love was just one of the things that brought us close together and contributed to our engagement late in 2017! As avid Muckers, Michael and I knew that we had to think about MuckFest MS when we were considering our wedding date! After getting engaged, we emailed to see if a date had been set for the 2018 MuckFest MS Boston. We waited for the date to be set before setting our wedding date. While we were disappointed to figure out that a wedding could not be hosted at the event itself 😉, we decided to incorporate MuckFest MS as much as we could in our wedding planning.
We will be getting married in early May this year and taking the plunge into the muck as newlyweds just two short weeks later! We have decided to have a donation jar at our wedding in lieu of wedding gifts. Puck the Muck Duck will be making his presence known at our celebration as he will be incorporated in many ways into the décor of our backyard event! We have even added crazy incentives such as Michael taking a polar plunge into the river the morning after the wedding if he reaches his fundraising goal! And instead of a honeymoon we will be taking our Mucky-moon by wearing just married costumes through the 5k muddy course!
All this fun and frivolity aside, MuckFest MS really means a lot to both of us. Both my father and my maternal grandmother have Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a disease that is both hard to diagnose and unpredictable. It impacts each patient in different ways. Seeing the ways that it impacted the lives of my loved ones inspired me to become involved with the National MS Society. After several years of fundraising for walks, I discovered MuckFest MS! These events truly change lives. The network that the National MS Society has created of people working together to fight MS is truly remarkable. There is a spirit of teamwork and good will that is present at the events that is unrivaled by other types of events. The work and research done by the funds raised by the National MS Society can change and improve the lives of MS patients.
This hilarious guest post is written by Erik R., a Mucker in Boston.
So for the last four years I have captained an ever-growing band of fun runners, who get together once a year to play in the mud in order to support the National MS Society, with the hope of raising awareness and cold hard cash to fight Multiple Sclerosis. This will be the fifth year that Marcella’s Muckers has competed in this friendly event and our team has grown from a respectable thirteen runners, or Muckers, in 2013 to forty-three in 2017.
Eventually people smarten up and decide not to continue to abuse their bodies or realize that mud doesn’t belong in every orifice in their body, so when I come calling the following year asking them to join us they quickly book a trip to some exciting destination, like Afghanistan, or North Korea. If their passport has been revoked they may feign an injury or if they are method actors they will have a loved one jump on their ankle until it fractures. For reasons like that, I find myself being asked the same question every year by new Muckers I have shanghaied, I mean recruited, to run with us. How do I train for this?
That is a great question. I usually just ask them if they drink. If the answer is no, I suggest they start. If the answer is yes, I suggest they drink more. Personally, I have been training for this event for years now. My liver completes it in record time. Others may want to take this as a serious challenge to their physical and mental stamina. That brings about the conversation of the race as a metaphor for the physical, mental, and emotional challenges someone with multiple sclerosis suffers, but others can speak to that much better than I.
I’ve decided to put together a definitive training guide. This guide will test not only your strength, speed, and dexterity, but may also test your bail bondsman and lawyer, since it may take breaking and entering or trespassing to find a landscape as harsh and cruel as a mud-run course. You may also drag down others with you since there is a necessary component to this training that requires a trainer, or as we call them in the illicit training trade, accomplices.
WHAT HAPPENS: You begin the race in the Muckin’ Corral where you and five-hundred of your closest friends are penned in a muddy area awaiting the race to begin. Usually an MC will attempt to get the crowd focused on the trial at hand by cracking jokes or calling out teams who have done well fundraising.
HOW TO TRAIN: Visit your local cow or pig farm. Climb in the most crowded pen you can find. Stand around for twenty minutes while your trainer blasts AC/DC or Guns N’ Roses out of a boom box built in 1988. Attempt to take off your wedding band, watch, and sunglasses. Push through the herd of animals and hand off the items to your trainer without dropping them in the mud, where they will be lost forever or eaten by swine.
WHAT HAPPENS: The race begins at the Start where you will be jostled, pushed, potentially trampled, and soaked while passing through an archway that sprays water down on you in an effort to maximize the amount of mud you will carry with you throughout the race.
HOW TO TRAIN: Buy a ticket at your local multiplex for a new release. I recommend something about Star Wars or a Marvel Super Hero. About twenty minutes into the film yell “Shark”, because you should never yell “Fire” in a movie theater. As everyone begins to exit in a safe and orderly manner, as prescribed just twenty minutes earlier in a helpful on-screen instructional, pour your extra-large fountain drink over your head and push your way to the exit.
WHAT HAPPENS: Your first real obstacle is the Triple Pits, which true to its name, is three muddy, rocky pits that you must run into and out of, possibly by using the person in front of you as a human ladder.
HOW TO TRAIN: Find a local skateboard park. Have the local skate punks practice their most difficult tricks while you run down and up the steepest portion of their half-pipe. Bonus points if a rider performs a 360 Ollie Kickflip over you or a Grind on you.
WHAT HAPPENS: You run into the Big Balls, which as you may imagine, are a group of big balls suspended over a pit of mud, possibly on some sort of intricate overhead wire system, possibly by the same magic that keeps balloons aloft. I’ve never thought to look up and see or I did and forgot after my concussion.
HOW TO TRAIN: Fill your bathtub with ½ inch water, ½ inch potting soil. Have your trainer throw red rubber playground balls at you until you slip and fall.
WHAT HAPPENS: You run across the Shake & Quake and while you never actually fall in the water, you do flinch like a little girl when the water actuators go off, hitting you with a stream from a small water cannon.
HOW TO TRAIN: Go down to your local fire station, preferably one with a pump truck. Heckle the firemen until they turn the hose on you. If you don’t have a working or friendly relationship with your local fire department you may go to any major city and start a riot. The water cannons turned on you by police work in much the same manner.
WHAT HAPPENS: You thread your way through the Spider Web, which is like the worst knot your shoe has ever had wrapped around a ball of unwound yarn, stretched across your door frame with bungee cords.
HOW TO TRAIN: Purchase fifty or more bungee cords, wrap around yarn and shoelaces, and attach to door frame. Climb through. Fall. Climb. Fall. Repeat.
WHAT HAPPENS: You get a chance to play on the Swing Set and launch yourself into a pit of water. If you are the type that must hold your nose in the shower, this is going to be a problem.
HOW TO TRAIN: Go to your local park, preferably at night. Borrow the swing set. Set up swing set in front of an in-ground pool. Stand on swing seat, pump until potential energy and maximum height is reached. Leap off. Remember to set up the swing so the length of the pool is in front of you. You should probably remember that before the whole potential energy and maximum height thing.
WHAT HAPPENS: You grab hold of a rope and let The Spinner take you for a spin. All the while you lose your tenuous grip on the wet rope, sliding further and further into the water.
HOW TO TRAIN: If you live near a large lake, find a water ski aficionado and have them pull you from behind their boat. Otherwise, visit your elderly neighbor who still has an old-style umbrella clothesline rack in their yard. Run at the clothesline at a 45 degree angle, leap into the air, catching the plastic coated ropes in your hands, see how many rotations you can achieve before the entire unit collapses under your weight.
WHAT HAPPENS: You zip down the line on the Flying Muckers until you are unceremoniously launched into the water.
HOW TO TRAIN: Find a neighbor with an aerial dog run, ideally when they are out-of-town and have the dog properly boarded elsewhere. Tie the dog run across either the same in-ground pool you used for the Swing Set, or more likely another pool where the owners aren’t vigilantly waiting for the scofflaw who left a swing set in their yard to return to the scene of the crime. Take a zip on the line. If this scenario doesn’t work you may find a tall building, take off your belt, and do a Tango & Cash.
WHAT HAPPENS: You reach Spill Hill and run all the way to the muddy top only to have to run down again.
HOW TO TRAIN: Visit your local garden and lawn center. Run up and down the largest pile of dirt you can find. When the meniscus in your knees is visible under your skin, you have completed the needed repetitions.
WHAT HAPPENS: You drag yourself backwards through the mud, using a rope to create a Skid Mark.
HOW TO TRAIN: Glue 30 or 40 pieces of sandpaper down in your driveway. Lie on your back, grab the garden hose and pull yourself along until you pass out from the pain.
WHAT HAPPENS: After a moment or two of acrophobia followed by a bout of vertigo, you climb Mt. Muck-Imanjaro making sure to keep your footing.
HOW TO TRAIN: If you live on the coast, visit a tall ship museum and climb the rigging. Otherwise, attend a carnival and attempt to win a cheaply Made-in-Taiwan stuffed animal by climbing the Looney-Ladder. While you’re there, visit the Shoot-the-Star out game, just because.
WHAT HAPPENS: You climb to the top of the platform, feeling you are master of all you survey. Then, when prompted, you leap into the soft arms of a stunt pad and perform a Crash Landing. Make sure to bend your knees.
HOW TO TRAIN: Drag your entire mattress collection outside, make a pile along with all your cotton t-shirts, socks, and assorted sundries. Jump out the 2nd story window into said pile. If you cannot gather enough materials to jump into, light the house on fire. When the Fire Department arrives, demand they set up a net to catch you.
WHAT HAPPENS: You walk the Tight Rope, attempting not to fall into the water.
HOW TO TRAIN: Go back to the house where you set up the aerial dog run. If they haven’t removed it yet, tie a second length of rope across the pool so it just touches the water, running parallel with the aerial run. Perform a hand-over-hand across the pool. If pool owner begins to chase you, perform an Indiana Jones and cut the rope ladder.
WHAT HAPPENS: You see the finish line in the distance. All of your hard work and training has culminated in this moment. All you have left is the tunnel otherwise known as the Belly Crawl.
HOW TO TRAIN: Get a cheese grater, or if you’re a manly man you may use one of your many rasps. I prefer a cabinet rasp for this job. Lie in your driveway and continuously scrub the grater or rasp across your knees and elbows until they bleed freely. Roll across your driveway until the previously grated areas are filled with debris.
WHAT HAPPENS: You Finish!
HOW TO TRAIN: Practice sucking in your gut while cutting onions, since the finish line is where they are sure to take your photo.
WHAT HAPPENS: Attend the MuckFestival. Clean clothes are optional. Clothes are not optional.
HOW TO TRAIN: Get a drink. I prefer beer. Drink it. Repeat.
Now, if you’ve read all of this you have too much time on your hands or you’re really curious about mud runs. Despite my sarcasm, they are a lot of fun. You make friendships that last as you bond over adversities mutually conquered while raising money for a great charity.
So tonight Tequila! For tomorrow we muck!
It was 7:00 am on a Saturday and I stood looking at myself in the mirror. I was completely clad in orange, right down to my uncomfortably tight orange and black workout leggings. I glanced nervously out the window at the rain then looked at the temperature on my phone: 43 degrees. I thought, what on earth have I gotten myself into? It was Saturday, April 26th, 2014, and I was preparing for my first ever MuckFest MS. As someone who is over 200 pounds and has never been athletic, I was downright terrified. This was completely out of my comfort zone. I had only recently started to get into a fitness routine and I was unsure of my ability to complete the obstacles. I assumed MuckFest MS was going to be like those races in which people have to climb under barbed wire and scale large walls. My anxiety about the race combined with the terrible weather conditions was enough to make me want to crawl back into bed and not go. However, there was one thing that made me face my anxiety and get out onto the course that day.
And that one thing was my mother.
MuckFest MS is a cause near and dear to my heart because my mother, Patricia, had multiple sclerosis. She was first diagnosed with the disease in 1964 when she was only 15 years old and not much was known about MS. She was young, afraid, and uncertain of her future. Despite all this, she persevered and was able to build a life for herself. She became a teacher, a wife and a mother to two children. The disease, however, did take its toll. By the time I was in middle school my mother was in a wheelchair and I saw her through numerous hospital stays. The final blow was dealt, however, when she was diagnosed with Melanoma and treatment was limited due to her disease. Unfortunately, she passed away in late 2009 after a courageous fight.
My mother was the epitome of strength and courage. She never gave up despite the obstacles life consistently threw at her. More importantly, she taught us to never give up and to keep persevering through life’s greatest obstacles. So, on that April day, I got on the course and completed every one of the obstacles despite the fear I felt while doing some of them. And while I was doing the race, I realized a few things. I realized how much fun this event is and how many laughs you have while doing it. I realized that this event is very doable for people of all shapes, sizes and athletic ability as there is no barbed wire and no monster walls. I realized my own ability to overcome my anxiety and do things outside of my comfort zone. I also realized there are a lot of people who do this run who are currently living with MS. Knowing what MS can do to you physically and mentally, this is an amazing feat, and something that should inspire everyone else. Their efforts have inspired me to continue to do MuckFest MS and to fundraise so that someday we might find a cure and make MS a thing of the past.
This year will be my fifth MuckFest MS, my fourth as a team co-captain. Our team, “Pat’s Muckers,” has grown since that first race, as have our fundraising efforts. Last year our team had over 50 people and we raised $20,000. The people on our team are very different from one another but they have come together for one common goal: to fight MS and to have fun doing it. If you’re considering doing MuckFest MS, I strongly encourage you to sign up. It’s a decision you won’t regret.
We get asked these questions all the time: How can I grow my team? How can I reach my fundraising goals? How do I stand out from the crowd?
Our answer: Your story. Nothing will engage your friends and family in a more impactful way than your story.
Kelly B., team captain of Keggy’s Krew in New Jersey, sent the AWESOME letter below to her friends and family. She was kind enough to share it with us so that we could share it with YOU!Things to note:
- It’s personal. It tells Kelly’s story.
- It’s informative. It briefly explains the event and the cause.
- It stands out. Kelly included pictures and headlines to keep her family and friends engaged. As a wise woman once said, a picture is worth 1,000 words!
Dear Friends and Family,
This year marks the 5th anniversary of my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis. I have been fortunate enough to have friends and family like you, surrounding me with prayers and emotional support.
I will never let my MS dictate my life. Unfortunately, I do have daily reminders of the disease. Some reminders are the injections I give myself three times a week. Another reminder is my “foggy brain” when I don’t eat healthy or drink enough water during the day. These are the “easy” reminders! The big reminders are the fear of getting any kind of infection; from a cold, to any other form of infection in my body. You see, an infection in my body can result in an MS attack. My first two attacks were triggered by infections (the flu and a severe sinus infection coupled with bronchitis). Both attacks left me numb and suffering from continued nerve pain. Through medication and a balanced diet, I continue to live life to the fullest!
God’s divine providence over my life continues to amaze me on a daily basis. He continues to challenge me in so many different ways, all while keeping my MS under control. MS will NOT keep me from achieving my goals and dreams.
MS is not fun. But I will NOT let it kick me down!
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
The “MS” part of MuckFest® MS stands for multiple sclerosis, a chronic and often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. MS is unpredictable and affects every individual differently. Women are two to three times more likely to get MS, and it affects over two-million people worldwide. This is the reason we come together; to rally friends in support of people living with MS in our community. That’s why 100% of your donation benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
MuckFest MS is a mucky romp through mud and obstacles in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis. The run is pure athletic hilarity on a 5K course full of mud, and features 20+ outrageous obstacles that will spin, swing and fling you up, down and sideways. MuckFest MS is something that must be seen to be believed. So, by all means, come out to watch or better yet, join us!
While there will be a lot of laughs and mucking about, we are also supporting the important work of the National MS Society in our community.
SUPPORT ME AND THE NATIONAL MS SOCIETY WITH A DONATION
Please help support me through donations or participating with “KEGGY’S KREW”. Help my team and me raise awareness of this disease and help find a cure! Every dollar makes a difference in our lives. I have enclosed directions should you choose to participate.
If you are unable to donate, would you keep us and those with the disease in your thoughts and prayers? We hope to one day find a cure or at least stop the progression of the disease for those who have it.
Thank you in advance,
Thank you for sharing, Kelly! We can’t wait to see you and Keggy’s Krew in New Jersey this year.
Guest post written by Rosemarie P., a MuckFest MS® participant in Detroit
In 2013, multiple sclerosis changed my life. I was a young mother of two, and I was scared. I wasn’t sure what I could do, but I knew I had to fight.
Then I heard about MuckFest MS, and I knew it was something I wanted to try.
Our first year of MuckFest MS, we had a team of over 60 people, we raised over $7,000, and I felt the love and support of not only my family and friends, but strangers who were in this battle with me. I knew after that first year that this was something I would continue to do as long as I am able.
A small team traveled from Detroit to Chicago. I was pregnant with my last child and could not participate, but still felt an outpouring of love.
I’m not a runner, but I am a fighter. I will continue to fight until we find a cure. I am blessed to have so much to fight for!
THANK YOU, Rosemarie, for sharing your story! This event wouldn’t be possible without passionate Muckers like you and team!