“I have been supporting MuckFest since 2012. One of my childhood gymnastics teammates invited me to be on her team to support her MS journey. At this time, I never thought I would be diagnosed….”
Christin Hungerford was a long-time Denver Mucker on her friend’s MuckFest team. In 2016, she was also diagnosed with MS. Even after getting that life-changing news, Christin didn’t slow down. She kept on mucking, kept supporting the cause, and promised that she will continue to do so until we can all live in a world without MS.
This year was especially important, as for the first time, she led her own team of friends and family members, the “Top Gun Pilots.”. Though it was a tough choice to branch off from her long-time team, Christin said it was so touching to hear that her friends wanted her “to feel the love and support that MuckFest brings when you have your own team.” Now, on the other side of that new and exciting experience, she’s telling us more about her MuckFest journey…
What’s one thing you wish you had known for your first MuckFest?
I wish I would have known that this truly is a fun run, not a competition. It really does cater to any fitness level and is a complete blast. I caught myself and many of my other friends asking, “Why haven’t we done this yet?!”
Also, make sure to take lots and lots of pictures, and remember that we are doing this to find a cure.
What keeps you coming back again and again?
In August of 2016, the cards were turned on me, and I was formally diagnosed with MS. Hearing the words “You have MS” is something I pray no one else ever has to hear. I will return every year until a cure is found.
What is your favorite obstacle and why?
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Slippy Sloppy slip n’ slide! A few of my friends and I last year might have gone down it 10 times!
What are your favorite parts about MuckFest?
I love the community, the support, the energy, and the encouragement to never give up!
What does it mean to have your parents and other friends and family Mucking alongside you?
It means the world to me to have my tribe running alongside me. MS not only impacts me, but it impacts my family as well. They see the hard days I have from time to time, the tears of fear, and what it takes to fight this disease.
What are some of your fundraising tips in general?
Ask for HELP! Reach out to the community and do a fun fundraiser that gets people excited, and don’t hesitate to ask everyone to contribute!
It is so important to participate because every dollar truly goes to help find a cure. If everyone does their part, we will get there.
How do you prepare for MuckFest? What keeps you coming back? We want to hear more stories of strength and perseverance, like Christen’s! Share them with us in the comments and tell your MuckFest story!
Milton Hwang has known about MuckFest since it began in the Chicagoland area but was never able to make the drive from his hometown of Milwaukee until 2018. Though he has supported multiple sclerosis causes and events for the two decades since his wife’s diagnosis, he had never experienced the muck.
That all changed this year.
Milton worked with the MuckFest team to connect with another Chicago runner, the famous Brian “PapaBear” Mahon, to run MuckFest Chicago in August. After so much anticipation, what did Milton think of his first MuckFest?
“I had researched MuckFest a ton, but you don’t REALLY know what to expect until you’ve done it.
I expected it to be great…and it was! The fact that all the awareness and fundraising goes to the National MS Society makes it great no matter what, but the experience itself was amazing! I wanted to keep running it over and over.
You’re muddy and dirty and tired but your adrenaline is pumping and you’re ready to go.”
Though he had originally signed up with his son, at the last minute his son couldn’t attend. That’s where PapaBear and some MuckFest magic came into play.
“Brian and I would never have met if not for MuckFest. In this world, there would have been zero reason for us to ever meet. But getting to know him and his story was amazing, and we had so much in common. Connecting with him was a highlight.”
Another highlight was the Flying Muckers zipline!
“There’s no question that was fun! And you get washed off a few times throughout the race. So, you start to think that you’re not THAT muddy, but then you’re all muddy by the end.”
MuckFest is not the end of Milton’s journey to support MS causes. Aside from planning on coming back to Chicago in 2019, this time with his son, Milton has big plans for year-long fundraising and support of multiple sclerosis…including a truly unique idea for a fundraising event!
“For the past few years, we have been throwing a big annual event in Milwaukee called “Fight MS, Eggroll Style.” We invite a ton of people, and when they arrive, they donate and then can eat as much Chinese food as I can cook. We finance the whole thing, so all the money can go to the National MS Society. Last year we had 260 people show up! They eat, have tons of fun, and all the money goes to a great cause.”
The cause is especially important to Milton now, as his wife’s condition progresses, and she comes up on the 20th year since her diagnosis. Supporting their local National MS Society Chapter, as well as the national organization, has become a family-oriented part of their lives.
“Next year is coming up on the 20th year since my wife’s diagnosis, and so we as a family decided we would do 20 events for MS this year, whether that be fundraisers or walks or runs. And we have been using #20for20 on social media to track our progress.
Plus, our eggroll event is already set for next year in March, too. So, stay tuned for lots of egg rolls!”
Lots of eggrolls. Lots of love and support. And hopefully lots more mud.
Note: You can learn more about Milton’s year-long fundraising and events at his wife Sarah’s MS Walk personal page here.
The holidays are coming up fast, 2018 is coming to a close,and 2019 is almost here! Instead of freaking out about gifts to buy, parties to plan, or New Year’s Resolutions left undone, let’s focus on the AWESOME!
2018 marked an important year for us, as we hit the $30 million mark raised by MuckFest for the National MS Society! All our muddy fun and hard work is making a difference for those living with multiple sclerosis,and we were so excited to reach this fundraising milestone together! We know it is only the beginning.
Aside from fundraising, we also had some hilarious, funny, unforgettable muddy moments this year!
We have compiled our list of awesome wipe-outs on our website to shout out to those that jumped into the mud with abandon (whether they meant to or not!)
You also took on our course of obstacles like champs! There were some new challenges this year, but every Mucker also battled the infamous giant swingin’ balls, flippin’ zip lines and super-charged swing sets that we’ve loved year after year. The fight between humans and obstacles didn’t always go as planned though… with hilarious result! Check out our best obstacle moments from 2018 HERE!
If these videos and memories are getting you all nostalgic for MuckFests of the past,don’t worry! You can see photos from our 2018 events on our blog, and make sure you didn’t miss a single muddy shot of you and your team.
As these photos and videos prove, not only do we work hard for an amazing cause, but we also have a lot of fun doing it! That’s why we are so honored to have been nominated by the Mud Run Guide as the Best Mid-Size Race Series, Best OCR (Obstacle Course Race) Series for a Beginner, and Best Event of 2018! You can still vote for us, but today is the last day (12/17) so vote NOW and help us truly end the year on a high note!
To say that 2018 has been wonderful would be an understatement, and we can’t wait for more muddy goodness in 2019! Thank you all for making MuckFest magic happen.
It’s official. 2019 MuckFest registration is open and we are ready to get muddy!
Next year has a lot to live up to because 2018 was pretty amazing! We made some incredible mucky memories, had a lot of fun, and accomplished some lofty fundraising goals, including hitting the $30 million raised mark for the National MS Society.
With all that excitement behind us, we’re certainly looking forward to 2019. And you can sign up to join us NOW! Bring your family, friends, colleagues, book club pals, soccer team, or anyone else you think would love to get down in the mud!
Sign up soon, because if you register for MuckFest 2019 before January 5, 2019, you will get a MuckFest fanny pack! It’s the perfect start to your epic 2019 MuckFest costume, plus it will be useful to have on event. Fanny packs are the newest fashion craze right now, so we had to jump on board!
How can you use your MuckFest fanny pack out in the mud? We’re glad you asked! Here are just some of the items that will fit in your fanny pack and help you throughout your muck.
- Your credentials and drink ticket: Don’t want to return to gear check to pick up your drink ticket after the run? Bring a plastic bag and put your credentials and drink ticket right in your fanny pack!
- Extra socks: Wet socks aren’t most people’s favorite things. Want to switch out your socks after a particularly muddy obstacle? Now you’ll have them easily on hand!
- Wet wipes or eye drops: Sometimes the muck gets in your eyes. It’s just life! But if you want to be extra careful and have wet wipes or eye drops on hand in case of a muddy mishap, the fanny pack makes that easy.
- Band aids: We always have an amazing medical team on staff at the event just in case, but band aids can help prevent blisters, cover pre-existing cuts and more! Throw a few in your fanny pack to be the hero of your team.
- Waterproof phone case: While we can’t guarantee your phone or camera will be safe from water during MuckFest, lots of participants bring their phones, cameras or Go Pros on the 5K. And now, with our handy dandy fanny pack, you have somewhere to store it while you climb Mt. Muck-imanjaro.
- Duct tape: The #1 tip we get from long-time Muckers is to duct tape your shoes to keep them on your feet as you trek through Triple Pits, Spill Hill and more. Store extra in your fanny pack just in case!
- A memento or list of your donors’ names: If you fundraised, a great way to thank donors is to send them a photo of you out in the mud. Carry a list of your donors’ names in a plastic bag in your fanny pack, and they’ll love seeing their names out in spirit at MuckFest.
What else would you store in your fanny pack? Tell us in the comments!
Then, sign up to come out and join us in 2019! Aside from the awesome fanny pack, you’ll also gain awesome memories and lots of new friends!
Going through MuckFest is meant to be a fun but sometimes challenging experience that will leave you laughing, feeling accomplished…and of course, covered in mud. It’s a truly unique experience! Doing all of that with a team of mostly kids? Well, that makes it one-of-a-kind! That’s what Sarah LaFrance thinks anyway!
She heard about MuckFest from a business partner in 2015, right around the time she had been looking for a charitable fitness event to do with her Makoto After-School members. Since the members of that group are kids, the event she was looking for had to be fun, had to be for a good cause, and it had to be something that EVERYONE — including her kids — could do. Enter MuckFest. It was like the mud gods had aligned everything in her favor.
By making MuckFest an annual Makoto (or “Muckoto”) event, they used it as part of the Makoto After-School Curriculum to “teach the kids about fitness, goal setting, time management, paying it forward, and teamwork. All in a fun manner!”
Since that first MuckFest, Sarah has been back four times as Team Captain of Muckoto, leading her team of kiddos through the mud. To say she’s a pro is an understatement. And now she’s sharing her expertise!
How did you prepare for your first run?
We had the Muckoto Team members who are in our after-school program create a schedule for running/exercise. They would plan it all out on a calendar and then do it. They’d manage their time… set goals… and reach goals. We even had the kids create a mock obstacle course for themselves and any other youth members who wanted to try it. We also talked about healthy eating and hydration. The kids planned healthy snacks after school and had a meal plan ready for the day before the run.
What are your fundraising recommendations?
Make it about spending time as a community. Something that people don’t necessarily see as a fundraiser but rather as an opportunity to get together and do something with fun, like-minded people. That it’s a fundraiser is almost secondary. And think different! Like holding an “Axe Throwing” party for the adults. Or a “Pie in the Face” event. Our kids love doing that. We made $150 in 20 minutes!
What’s one thing you wish you had known before your first MuckFest?
Not to worry. You CAN do it. This isn’t a Tough Mudder. There’s no electric fence… no time to beat… and no pressure. This is a FUN mud run. It is most definitely built for laughs… and you will have a lot of them.
Enjoy the time. Enjoy the obstacles. Enjoy the people around you. You WILL make it through… however you need to. And someone (a team member… volunteer… or different team altogether) will always be there to motivate you to go on.
What is an obstacle that runners should for sure look out for?
Hard to choose! I guess I would have to say that I have two favorites. The first is the Triple Pits because I always love how all the people come together for that obstacle. There is always someone lending a hand to a runner who cannot make it up the hill. And the grins are contagious.
My second favorite would have to be the Spinner because whoever is my partner on the rings, always tries to make me lose my grip. There is splashing… kicking… and much laughing. All in the hopes of seeing one of us fall off the rings and into the water. Bragging rights if you do it.
Any other general tips for first-timers?
Buy sneakers from Goodwill so that you can donate them afterward and not worry about cleaning your favorite pair of sneakers. Bring LOTS of baby wipes as well as travel sized shampoo and soap. Don’t forget the towel! And make sure you wear something that covers your knees. There can be stones in the mud at some of the crawling obstacles.
What keeps you coming back again and again?
The community. And I mean not only the MuckFest community — that being the MuckFest staff as well as the volunteers — but the internal community it creates. Team Muckoto is a living, breathing entity that people look forward to joining every year. And it brings people back. We have people who are no longer Makoto members… but they run with the Muckoto Team every year. MuckFest does that. It makes a village.
It also serves as a reminder to all of us to put down your electronics… leave work behind… and stop worrying. Live in the moment. Believe in yourself. Do something fun… together! And never forget that we all need help in this world at some point. So, offer up that hand. Boost someone up. You never know who might need it.
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.