Nick has lived in Dallas since 2009 and been an active member of the OCR community since shortly after he moved to the Lone Star State. Though he initially did other mud runs and OCRs, his journey toward the MuckFest community began on a Sunday morning in March of 2016. He woke up feeling a little off and was numb from the neck down. That day, after six hours of multiple MRIs and CAT scans, his doctors came out to give him the news: He had MS.
Though it took him a while to feel like himself again, he found support from his family and friends, and found a new community with others he met that had MS. Then, he found MuckFest. Finally, his love of OCRs and his desire to support the MS community could be combined! A lifelong fitness journey had all led to that discovery, and to MuckFest. This is Nick’s MS story, in his own words.
Growing up I was never really into fitness, but I did stay active. I did four years of high school marching band each year on a different instrument (alto sax, marching cymbals, bass drum and snare drum) while joining the high school swim team in the off season.
Once I got to college, I auditioned and made a Drum Corps International group called the Carolina Crown, where I marched four summers on bass drum. Drum Corps is known as the “professional” competitive level of marching band so while it may not be considered a true “sport” it did keep me very active each summer. They say that marching a 10-minute show is like running 6 miles! And we did this at minimum every day all summer long. Once I got my undergraduate degree in biology from East Carolina University, my best friend Adam, who I met through Carolina Crown, wanted to move to Dallas. There was nothing holding me back, so I gladly told him I would make the change and call Dallas my home.
Trying to find a job and make ends meet made being active start to take a back seat without me even realizing it. Before I knew it, I gained a bit of weight and was getting antsy not knowing what to do with the little free time I did have. I decided enough was enough and I wanted to start running every morning.
Then, I started getting out and meeting people and along the way was asked to do 5K road races with different friend groups. I started looking into all types of Obstacle Course Races (OCRs) and came across the Spartan Race. Little did I know that I decided on and signed up for one of the most intense races that existed!
This brings me to 2016. My fiancé Nicola and I got a husky puppy late in 2015, knowing full well the amount of time and energy it took to keep them happy. We looked forward to having a reason to go on runs and walks every morning and every night. As you can imagine, after being told that I had MS and not knowing what that meant, there were a few weeks of feeling lost. Losing the sensation in my body through the fingertips and toes, not knowing when I had to go to the bathroom or if I was hungry, only really bothered me when I got home after the hospital stay and I couldn’t even feel my dog the way I used to. He was usually so soft and fluffy. It hit me then and there that I may never be the same again.
I had a huge support structure from my friends and family that I will never forget. They made it easy to keep my head up and keep working toward getting back to whatever my new normal would be. After about 6 weeks I could start to feel sensations at the end of my fingertips. It felt like a long process and losing all my dexterity and hand strength made it hard relearning even the most basic of things like buttoning up a shirt or simply writing with a pen and paper. But thankfully I regained most, if not all, of my strength and dexterity. I do believe I am very lucky in that regard.
It was around this time that I came across the MuckFest for Dallas and I was thrilled! It was my kind of event and the fact that it was benefiting MS (not to mention my favorite color has always been orange) I could not say no. So, I signed up and got a team put together with my friend Tim, who also has MS. The rest is history! I find MuckFest to be a great way to try out an OCR. The layout of the course between mud, water and obstacles is done very well. The event isn’t timed, so you can go at your own pace and you have the option of skipping an obstacle if it seems like too much (although there are always people helping others conquer their fears). Now, I have no desire to do another Spartan race. I have MuckFest!
When Lauren C. was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in December 2016, she had just celebrated her 30th birthday. She wasn’t quite sure who to talk to about it and how much of her diagnosis she wanted to share with those in her life. She knew she had to do something, and after a little searching…she found her way to the MuckFest community!
This past August, Lauren ran her first MuckFest in Detroit while also training for a marathon. Participating in MuckFest showed her that support from friends and family can be a good thing and how much fun you can have in the mud! Now she’s sharing her story and her plans for more involvement with the National MS Society with us…
Tell us your MuckFest story…
I wasn’t comfortable talking to anyone about my diagnosis. I didn’t know anyone who had MS, but I knew I had to do something. So, I typed #MS into Instagram and searched and quickly found out about MuckFest!
Usually MuckFest takes place during a crazy work week for me, but I was able to participate this year! I told my mom about it, but I didn’t feel ready to recruit a whole team. So my friend and I ran it together this year.
What did you think of your first MuckFest?
I didn’t do much to prepare, but I was nervous about what I was going to wear! I bought cool-colored orange socks and a water proof phone case. That was my prep!
It was really hot on the day of the run! So, I had on a tank top and leggings. I recommend covering your knees! I had my phone on a lanyard around my neck, but next year I’m going to try to bring a GoPro, too. I did live feeds on Facebook and Instagram Stories throughout the race! Posting afterward is nice, but for people to see what I was doing LIVE was cool for me…to show that accomplishment in real time.
I would also recommend a waterproof watch and to have your laces tight. I lost my shoe in the very beginning and had to yank it out of the mud! I was trying to not mess up my hair for a while, but then my friend and I just got in the mud.
My favorite was the giant slip and slide obstacle, Slippy Sloppy! I had so much fun laughing at myself trying to get out of the pool! I could NOT get out of it. A girl behind me helped push my butt up out of the water. It was such a funny experience and memory. I laughed SO hard!
Why is MuckFest important?
It gives you confidence. It shows that just because you are diagnosed with MS, it’s not the end of your physical story. Running a marathon and doing MuckFest gave me that confidence and motivation to keep up with my training.
I don’t like talking about MS much in my personal life, but the support that I saw from teams, families, and other groups was amazing. MuckFest brings awareness and money to a good cause, but this is something that my friends and I would also just do for a good time. So, it’s both! My abs hurt the next day from all the laughing I did!
What are your plans for the future?
I’m looking forward to connecting with and getting more involved with the local Detroit National MS Society. This is such important work.
Thanks so much for sharing your Muck story, Lauren! Cheers to you!
There’s no doubt that MuckFest MS is a whole lot of fun. A whole lot of dirty, muddy, do-good fun. And while some people may run MuckFest MS only once, there are many others who just can’t get enough! Meet Brian Mahon, aka, “PapaBear”, from Chicago. He runs as many obstacle course races (OCRs) as he possibly can, including last month’s MuckFest MS Chicago.
Clearly his commitment to racing is serious, and he is also very committed to spreading the MuckFest MS story. He wants everyone to get out in the mud!
That’s because this cause is very personal for him…
He always gives his MuckFest MS medal, and any OCR medal he receives, to his family friend Nancy. She is why he mucks.
“Before Nancy, I didn’t know much about MS. Nancy was the rock of the family, and when I saw how MS impacted her, I knew I had to dedicate all my races to Nancy. It all started from there and from her.”
But why obstacle course racing, specifically? Well, aside from trying to keep up with his daughter (already an OCR expert!), PapaBear loves that he gets to relive his childhood and get a little dirty.
When he first discovered the OCR community in 2010, he quickly became hooked. He even did 52 obstacle course races in a single year! He runs with different teams, but MuckFest MS has a special place in his heart because of Nancy. And he won’t be stopping anytime soon.
His promise to MuckFest MS is simple:
“As long as I can move my feet…I’ll keep running.”
Dallas, you were amazing! Check out these sneak peeks of MuckFest® MS Dallas and celebrate our last Muck of 2018!
Participant photos are also available HERE!
Cheers to you, Dallas! You’re muckin’ awesome!
If you have trouble accessing your Participant Photos, please email email@example.com.
“I get to show others that we can still move forward. No matter our challenges, we can truly live. We can choose to NOT let obstacles block us from our goals. It shows that I don’t just live with MS. I conquer the world in spite of it!”
Dallas Mucker, Sheila Timmons, has been mucking it up with her family team since 2014, and her mom is one of the top fundraisers in Dallas this year.
Sheila, who is living with MS, is excited and honored that MuckFest is a family affair for her.
“The people that love and care for me show me every day that I’m important. And that I have to keep going. And that no matter what, they are here for me.”
That includes being there for Sheila when they’re all down in the mud together. They are her support system from start to finish and have helped her finish the course every year that she’s participated. Sheila especially loves any obstacles that involve flying (or falling) because they give her a feeling of freedom.
She invites everyone she knows to muck with her and wants all of Dallas to come out and join in the muddy fun, too!
Her top tips for new Dallas Muckers?
- When you’re getting ready for MuckFest and trying to grow your team, “Hit up all your family and friends. They are in this with you. Send texts and emails to everyone. Follow up and then roll on to the next. Team involvement makes it more fun!”
- Need fundraising help? “Challenge a person or a group of people to raise the most money. Raffles, auctions, and parties are other ways to get people to see what you’re doing and why.”
- During the event, don’t push yourself too far! Timmons says, “Just do what you can. No expects you to be a super-person. Go have fun and spend quality time with those that have chosen to do this with you!”
- In terms of clothes, use “shoes and leggings that cover your knees. Although, I still manage to get banged up a little, these things help. Also donate your shoes if you don’t plan to keep them. Someone else may be able to use them. I donate mine every year!”
If you take her advice, you can be sure you’ll conquer MuckFest like a champ! And Sheila can’t wait to see you there! She knows personally just how much this 5K means to those with multiple sclerosis.
“When I was first diagnosed, I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I was mad and lost. But now, I find that I look forward to this event every year. I have to stay healthy to play! MuckFest also gives my family a sense of helping to find a cure and a means to keep fighting. My family and friends tend to have competitive natures. So that makes this fun, too!”
Fun with a purpose. For Sheila, and many of our Muckers, that is the making of a perfect weekend. We can’t wait to see you all there!
MuckFest MS is more than a 5K for many people. Some love it for the OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) challenge. Others want to raise funds and awareness for the National MS Society. For Deb B. and team Walgreens MuckFest Texas, it is a chance to bond and make a difference in the world of healthcare.
“We work with chronic illness, including MS, every day, so when we learned about MuckFest MS, we thought it would be a good fit. We work with support groups for diseases like MS and we try to stay involved with causes and events that are really making a difference in the field of chronic illness,” explains Team Captain Deb.
Making a difference has meant doing good in any way they can, including Hurricane Harvey relief as a team. They pick a cause with a purpose when looking for team-building activities. Deb says this keeps her Walgreens team motivated, even after the event is over.
“MuckFest MS started as just a team-building opportunity, but it turned into something bigger.
We had an MS scare with my daughter a few years ago, and even though it turned out to be a virus instead, I can sympathize and understand the fear and concern you feel as a parent. I feel very drawn to this organization.
In addition, our teammate’s sister has MS and she will be mucking with us as well! This has become personal for all of us.”
This personal connection led Deb to pay for her team’s registration fees so they could donate the money they would have spent on registering to the cause instead. They have also had an all-team “MuckFest 101” call with their National MS Society representative to make sure everyone is prepared.
That preparation has included saving old tennis shoes so they can donate them at the end of the race, and getting excited for the different obstacles.
Deb says she is “isn’t sure what to think of those Big Balls! They are giant! They look fun, but I have never seen anything like that! I’m the most excited about that obstacle. I’m also excited about Slippy Sloppy!
We know that whatever we look like at the beginning is not like what we’ll look like at the end. This is not your glamour event but that’s okay. It’s going to be so fun!”
Deb is ready to gather her team of more than 30 people, all with varying levels of fitness, from all over the country. Walgreens employees from Minnesota, New Orleans and beyond are gathering in Dallas this weekend and looking forward to basking in the MuckFest MS fun even after the 5K is done.
“We’re excited to replicate what we’re doing in Texas in our other Walgreens’ regions across the country as well,” Deb enthuses. “Everyone I talk to about it has been so interested in learning more!”
If you haven’t thought about using MuckFest MS as a team-building exercise, use “Walgreens MuckFest Texas” as your inspiration! They’re bonding, making a difference, and going to have lots of mucky fun!
MuckFest® MS Denver is THIS SATURDAY, and we can’t wait to get muddy at our event site in Parker, Colorado! Below is a list of Parker “must-dos” that are highly recommended by your fellow Denver muckers and perfect for all you foodies.
- The Donut House is Parker’s family-owned and operated donut heaven. Perfect for a pre-Muck sugar, I mean, energy boost.
- Fika Coffee House has two locations to satisfy your coffee cravings! The original is in the town of Parker on old Mainstreet. The other is in the Idyllwilde neighborhood nearby.
- Rory’s Diner, just south of Mainstreet on Pikes Peak Drive, has some good comfort food, salads, sandwiches and breakfast all day.
Hungry? Parker has some amazing restaurants.
- Artisan Pizza Co. is just minutes away from the event site and has amazing, made-to-order, brick-oven pizza. They even have a mobile ordering app!
- For a nice post-run celebration, check out Parker Garage or Vines Wine Bar & Bistro. Both are on Main Street in old town Parker and have outside seating.
- If you’re looking for a local bar, the Tailgate Tavern is also on old Mainstreet, has great wings, and usually has live music.
- If you’re looking for Italian, check out Portofino’s or Armando’s!
- If you’re looking for Chinese, Jonny’s Asian Bistro is a fan favorite!
- If anyone is hankering for BBQ, Hickory House boasts the “Best Ribs in Colorado.”
Thirsty? Parker also has some incredible beer.
- You’ll find some amazing beer at both Downhill Brewing (the sign outside still says Elk Mountain Brewing) and Barnett and Son Brewing Co.
Room for Dessert?
- Butterfield’s Ice Cream is a local ice cream shop about 10 minutes south of the event site, near Stroh Ranch. A perfect finish to your Saturday!
Still need to get your ’fest on?
- Parker Oktoberfest is taking place this weekend in O’Brien Park on Main Street. It’s open until 11:00 pm Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Admission is free!
So, there you have it! Did we miss your favorite spot? Let us know in the comments where else we should try!
In 2016, Alex’s company chose the National MS Society to be their charity of the year, making MuckFest MS Dallas a team affair! Her company paid the registration fee for all employees, and together, they mucked. This cause, and this event, are especially important to Alex, as she is living with MS. Alex didn’t know what to expect that first year, but she became hooked and has never looked back! She will be back again this year, and is upping her fundraising game. Now a MuckFest MS vet, she’s telling us why she mucks…
How did you feel completing that first MuckFest MS?
It was such a fun time; my peeps and I knew immediately we wanted to do this every year!
What’s one thing you wish you had known for your first MuckFest MS?
I learned to wear a bathing suit underneath my clothes to help with the cleanup process afterwards.
What keeps you coming back again and again?
It is just such a fun time, and I love the obstacles! I especially love The Spinner because I like to see if I make it without falling into the water (and it’s hilarious when someone does)!
What was a challenge you overcame as part of MuckFest MS that you’re especially proud of?
I was apprehensive about getting wet, but after the zip-line I realize that it’s half the fun! I still have not overcome my fear of Crash Landing though and honestly do not see that changing in my future.
What are your favorite parts of MuckFest MS?
The overall spirit of the runners and volunteers. Everyone is so fun-loving and you can tell are there to just have a fun time! And the name! I love the play on words with “muck.” 🙂
What are you most looking forward to this year?
This year, fundraising has been exciting for me. We didn’t really raise any money in the past so this is a new side that I have been eager to learn about, and I am looking forward to seeing how much money my team has raised by the event! And, the free beer. But that’s a given.
You are a fundraising whiz! Any tips on that you can share?
Since this is my first-year fundraising, the big lesson I have learned so far, (and am still working on) is to not be scared to ask for donations. The amount of people that have donated — time, money, raffle items, and more — has been incredible and I did not expect it. I learned to start early with asking for donations if you have a fundraising event. I have a good list of places I will be hitting up early next year!
What are your tips for some first time Muckers?
Tie your shoes super tight or duct tape them on, or they might get sucked off in the mud!
Why is this run so important, especially to you?
To show others, especially those that have been recently diagnosed, that this disease not define you and what you are capable of. When I was first diagnosed and reading about all the symptoms and disabilities that could “possibly” happen, it was overwhelming and scary. When I went to my first run and saw how many people had the same I Muck with MS Bandanna on that I did, it was a relief to me to know that I was not alone and fun things will not come to an end just because I have this disease. It is also super important to me that the money goes towards research. It is because of the research that there are many treatment options now. I was able to find a disease-modifying therapy that works for me, versus 20 years ago when there was barely anything. I am hopeful that there will be a cure in this lifetime!