We’re excited to share a guest blog post from our National MuckFestival Sponsor, Traveler Beer Company!

July 27th is just around the corner, which means only one thing: National Refreshment Day is almost here! It’s a day to honor all things refreshment and have a Shandy or two while doing it. So, while there aren’t any actual MuckFest® MS mud runs on National Refreshment Day, there’s plenty that the national holiday and the mud runs have in common. Here are the top 5 reasons why we think MuckFest MS is worthy of the Badge of Refreshment.

  • Have you seen the obstacles? Come on, what’s more refreshing than running through mud and water on a hot summer day?
  • You get a nice hose down at the end to get the muck off. And as a bonus, it’ll take you right back to your childhood and the days you spent playing in the hose and sprinklers.
  • You get to enjoy a Traveler Shandy afterward (if you’re of age). Need we say more? All of Refreshment Day is based off of these Shandys!
  • You get a day away from work, work, work to spend time with family and friends doing something fun together.
  • And the most refreshing of all… helping a great cause and giving back to your community!

This National Refreshment Day take the opportunity to sign up for a MuckFest MS mud run in your area. Then stop by a Traveler Beer Company National Refreshment Day event and raise one up to relaxation, having fun, and doing good!

Last weekend in Denver, our team had the privilege of handing over our Instagram account to a loyal mucker, Brooke Hatfield. This was her SEVENTH time joining us for MuckFest® MS Denver, and her Instagram Takeover was seen by nearly 9,000 people across the country. Brooke lives with multiple sclerosis, but she doesn’t let her diagnosis dim her optimism and joy.

Below are her top 6 moments from MuckFest MS Denver 2017! Scroll to the bottom of the page to see more pictures.

  1. I met a woman who has been living with MS for over 20 years, and this was her first-ever event with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She looked around, felt overwhelmed, and cried. She asked her daughter: “Is everyone here for MS? Is this all for MS?” She was so touched that people were aware of the cause and so grateful that so many people were there.
  2. MudMaster Al… he makes you SO pumped up and excited to get muddy. Each year, I see new muckers look a little nervous not knowing what to expect, but MudMaster Al is amazing and gets everyone ready with a little pregame at the starting line! During his introduction, he explained how the obstacles and the feeling of running in the mud isn’t much different from what those with MS experience every day… that really touched home. For him to point that out at the starting line really made people focus on the cause and lit a fire for the mindset of “I’m going to do this – not only with excitement, but with HEART.” He made it personal!
  3. Seeing so many participants run with the “I Muck It with MS” bandanas reminded me that I am not alone with this disease.
  4. There are tons of mud runs out there, but what makes MuckFest MS different is the nature of the obstacles. These obstacles invoke your inner kid! I love seeing adults turn into little kids and squeal going down Slippy Sloppy! Where else can you throw mud at your spouse and get away with it? This event is about having fun and being silly!
  5. Team work makes the dream work! I love seeing teams come back each year. Our teams are growing in numbers, our fundraising is growing in numbers, and we didn’t have team tents before… it’s just evolved into this HUGE electric event. It’s contagious and energizing.
  6. MuckFest MS reminds me how to tackle life. Things might not be glamourous or sexy, but you see familiar faces and strangers, and you’re all going through it together. You take tons of leaps of faith. You laugh. And then at the end, you ring that bell to celebrate that you made it through… there are so many parallels to life.

Thanks, as always, for sharing your story, Brooke! Cheers to many more mucks.

Hot of the lens, here’s a sneak peek of pictures from MuckFest MS Denver! More to come this week.

 

What’s HOT in Denver

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.

PRE-MUCK

  • Fika Coffee House has 2 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.

POST-MUCK

Hungry? Parker has some amazing restaurants.

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!

So, there you have it! Did we miss your favorite spot? Let us know in the comments where else we should try!

 

From fundraising to chasing down registrations  to carpooling to chasing down MORE registrations, Team Captains have their hands full when organizing a group to participate in MuckFest® MS. Despite that, Chrissy Tauber of Twin Cities sends out awesome thank you cards every year to all her team members and donors, and we thought we’d share her 2016 card with you:

“On behalf of our team, The Mud Flaps, it is with my sincerest appreciation that I thank you for your generous donation to MuckFest MS!

Our team raised a total of $5,220!!! We were the 3rd top fundraising team 

2016 Thank You Card

in the state of Minnesota thanks to you!! I am humbled to say, my family and friends alone donated a total of $3,490… I am deeply touched.

The reason I began doing MuckFest MS in 2013 was on behalf of my friend, Amy, who has been living with MS since June of 1990. This year, our team had the opportunity to have Amy participate in this event with us! What an incredible honor that was… she is a true inspiration and I have the utmost respect for her!

Again, thank you so much for your donation… you make the world a better place!

The Mud Flaps Team Captain,
Chrissy Tauber & The Mud Flaps Team”

 

Thank you for sharing, Chrissy. See you in Twin Cities this year on August 19!

We’re excited to share a guest blog post from our National MuckFestival Sponsor, Traveler Beer Company!

Want to win tickets (and travel accommodations) to Southern California for the final MuckFest® MS mud run of the year? Yeah, ya do!

For the second year running, we’re giving away the trip of a lifetime to MuckFest So Cal on November 11th as part of our #Muckstache Photo Contest.

So how do you enter?

  1. Get creative! Get wacky! Get mucky! Actual muckstaches (a.k.a. mustaches made of muck) encouraged!
  2. Snap a photo and share it on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtags #muckstache and #contest.
  3. Make it official by uploading it to travelerbeer.com/muckstache.

And because we’re a beer company, photos of people under 21 will not be accepted…no matter how cute your kids are. Check out the Official Rules here.

Need some inspiration?

You do not need to have facial hair to participate. This contest is alllll about creativity and making the most with whatcha got. Here are some things around the house that may work…

  • Eye black
  • Eye liner
  • Lipstick
  • Really any makeup will do…
  • Glitter
  • Shaving cream
  • Yarn
  • Felt
  • Paper
  • Cotton balls
  • Dandelions
  • Jelly Beans
  • We could go on and on…
  • Plus there’s always good ol’ mud.

Check out some of the entries we’ve received already here!

Now go upload your muckstache photo and GOOD LUCK! We’ll see you at the finish line. 🍻

Photo Credit: Thirsty Liquor

If there’s one thing that we can all say we’re ready for, it’s SUMMER. From negative forty-degree weather to drifts and hills of snow, we find ourselves hibernating indoors for six months while mother nature runs her course. With hibernation comes excessive eating, and with excessive eating comes the all too regular wine-in-your-pajamas-at-7pm while we re-watch-all-seven-seasons-of-The-West-Wing. So, HOW can we get our bodies ready for summer? And how can we make sure that we’re in tip-top shape for this year’s MuckFest® MS?

Cut the alcohol, cancel Netflix (after finishing Kimmy Schmidt, of course), and head to the kitchen to make a few of our favorite mocktails, or mucktails, if you will. These non-alcoholic drinks will give you the energy and refreshment you need to get out of the house and start training for your run.

Sugar-Free Copycat Chick-fil-A Frozen Lemonade
Recipe by Brenda Bennett, Sugar-Free Mom

Cutting sugar from your diet can be super useful for feeling more motivated and energized, but beware the side effects of artificial sweeteners. That’s why we’re sharing this recipe with the naturally-derived sweetener, stevia.

Frozen Lemonade

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 -2 teaspoons lemon liquid stevia
  • pinch salt
  • 3 cups ice

Instructions

  1. Add the ingredients into a high powdered blender and blend until desired consistency.
  2. I suggest starting with 1/2 teaspoon of liquid stevia then taste and adjust to decide if it is sweet enough for you.
  3. If you’d like more lemon flavor add 1/4 cup more lemon juice.

Ginger Lime Mucktail
Recipe by Elana Amsterdam, Elana’s Pantry

This mucktail is perfect for your post-run hydration needs. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger mixed with the vitamin-C enriched and refreshing taste of lime make for a perfect summer drink.

Ginger Lime

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon zested ginger
  • 12 drops stevia
  • 18 ounces sparkling water

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar and stir.
  2. Pour over ice into 2 cocktail glasses and garnish with lime wedges.

Clean Eating Orange Julius
Recipe by Allie Taylor, Through Her Looking Glass

Want a balance of protein and healthy carbs to supplement your post-workout regimen? Try this frothy and refreshing recipe to energize your day!

Orange Julius

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon stevia extract powder OR 4 tablespoons organic agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 – 20 ice cubes
  • Optional garnish: orange slices and mint sprigs

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients in blender to desired consistency.
  2. Start with the smaller number of ice cubes, then add more as needed for a thicker consistency.
  3. Optional: Garnish with orange slices and mint sprigs.
  4. Serve immediately.

The BEST Homemade Chocolate Milk
Recipe by Amanda Rettke, I Am Baker

Skip the Bailey’s, this thick and mucky chocolate milk will have your whole family thirsty for more. The ingredients are easily interchangeable with healthier options, so explore to find your perfect chocolate-muck-milk.

Chocolate Milk

Ingredients

  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Pour milk into blender. Add in cocoa, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Blend all ingredients until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  2. Serve and enjoy!
  3. This will last about one week covered in the fridge (or the life of the milk).

There you have it, this summer’s top four mucktails that will energize you through your heat-filled adventures. Put down the remote, unbox the blender, and put on your running shoes as we begin training for a summer of MuckFest MS!

 

Re-shared with permission from Jessica Piotrowski. Content initially appeared on her personal fundraising page.

The Other Side
By Jessica Taylor Piotrowski

My husband is a multiple sclerosis warrior. He is also my best friend, my partner of over 20 years, my advocate, my person. He knows my habits inside and out. He can predict what I will say, he knows just how I like my coffee, he knows how to make me laugh, he understands that my love for dark chocolate and good whisky is on par with my love for him, and most of all – he loves me for who I am, exactly as I am.

People often tell me that I am resilient, strong, gritty, determined … a fighter. I am not so sure. Perhaps. But MS has challenged this resilience. MS has challenged my strength. MS has pushed back against my grit.

But how? Why? I don’t have MS. He does.

It’s the other side of the disease. The side that we are afraid to talk about because we don’t have the actual disease, so who are we to say anything at all? Who are we to complain about its effects? Who are we to even mention we are affected at all? We – the spouses, the caregivers, the family members – we are not dealing with the often debilitating effects of the disease. We aren’t experiencing deep fatigue, muscle spasms, bladder sensitivity, memory problems, speech challenges, vision defects, aching muscles … we aren’t experiencing the daily injections, the numerous pills, and the notion that – at some point – we might wake up and struggle with walking, or talking, or any other typically uneventful daily life event. We aren’t looking for bathrooms consistently. We aren’t turning down invitations because of fatigue. We aren’t writing down lists after lists after lists because it is too complicated to keep a series of tasks in our mind. We aren’t using breathing machines at night to deal with MS-induced sleep apnea. We aren’t scheduling MRIs and holding our breath as we wait to hear if the lesions have increased. It’s not happening to us, so we don’t speak.

But here’s the ugly truth. Here’s the truth that we don’t want to talk about for fear as to how people will judge us. It IS happening to us as well. Not in the same way, of course, but we – the spouses, the caregivers, the family members – we feel it too, we experience the effects of MS as well … and it sucks.

I cannot speak to others’ experiences nor would I pretend do – I can only speak to my own. But, what I can say is that the day my husband was diagnosed with MS – my life changed, too. And my resiliency, my strength, my grit … it’s been tested nearly every day since.

Initially, the diagnosis brought fear. Fear of the unknown. What was MS, exactly? What did it mean for his quality of life? Could we have children? Could we travel? Could he still work? What do we do? How do we treat it? How much would treatment cost? What would his future look like?

Thanks to organizations like the National MS Society, and an incredible team of doctors at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, the initial fear was quelled a bit. Information has a powerful way of replacing fear with hope, at least for me.

But … as it turns out … information only goes so far. No matter how many articles I read, blogs I followed, or support groups I sat in could have prepared me for my new normal. A new normal that, quite honestly, I’m still adjusting to day-by-day.

I was not prepared for his fatigue. I was not prepared to come home from a morning run to find he was still sleeping in bed, 13 hours later. And honestly, sometimes I just want to scream “you are still in bed!?! Why not get up and make us breakfast or do some laundry!?!” …. And in truth, sometimes I do scream that before I remember … before I remember that my husband is fighting a disease every day that requires rest, far more rest than most of us need. Those days – days when I yell – I feel awful, like the world’s worst wife.

I was not prepared for watching the injections, and the often significant pain afterward. I was not prepared for the memory challenges that make me want to scream “WE JUST TALKED ABOUT THIS!”. I was not prepared for the way that MS would make inroads into the activities we choose, the food we eat, the races we run together, the hotels we stay at, the flights we book … everything. It is always there. Sometimes quiet, sometimes loud, but it is always there.

And although it’s very hard to write about, if I’m being very honest, I was not prepared for his lack of affect. My pre-MS husband was always the clown of the party, the person with the biggest smile on his face, the kindest expression, and he always made me feel so loved – as though I was the only person in the room. I could walk into a crowd of 500 people and know he would find me in an instant, would smile at me with a deep love, and I would find immediate calmness and safety. But MS has stolen that too. MS has begun to steal his ability to show emotion. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel. He does. But it often seems as though he has no emotion at all. It affects his ability to look at me deeply. It has also made him more somber. This is ‘normal’. This is part of MS. And as narcissistic and selfish as I sound, sometimes I just want to scream “LOOK AT ME THE WAY YOU USED TO!” For the past 3 years, I have blamed myself. At points, I have convinced myself that I did something to change his behavior. I have fought back tears as I convinced myself that maybe he no longer loves me the way he used to. Maybe I’m not pretty enough or smart enough or good enough for him? It has taken counseling (for both of us) to help us talk about these things, to help me realize it’s not me, it’s not him, our love is still there – it just sometimes is buried under the MS mask.

I was not prepared.

I don’t think anyone can ever be prepared.

And I hate MS. I hate watching my husband battle. I hate the fear of the unknown. I hate not knowing where our path will lead. I hate that our conversations about having children are veiled by this disease. I hate that so many of our decisions involve this damn disease. And more than anything, I hate watching him fight. I hate that he has to do this. I hate that this happened to him.

But in times when I feel overwhelmed, saddened, or frustrated, I try to dig deep and see what MS has given us. It has changed our perspective on life – we now live for the moment far more than ever before. We talk deeply, and often. These talks aren’t always easy, but they are important. We are the healthiest we have ever been and continue to be committed to a healthy lifestyle. We have found new hobbies that bring us joy (hiking! running! yoga!), and we have found that our support network runs deep – so very deep. Family. Friends. Strangers. It’s incredible. It’s unforgettable. And on days when things are simply too much to bear, we both know we have a network to keep us standing.

And right now, this network is helping us by joining forces to run in the 2017 PA MuckFest MS – a mud run where 100% of fundraising goes to funding MS research. We have a team of people (Team “Find a Muckin’ Cure”) who are committed to getting muddy with us as they raise money to help find a cure. There are so many people who are donating to our team to help us – together – fight back against MS. People we know. People we don’t. But so many people. So many people saying “we stand with you”.

And while I may not be an MS-warrior myself, as someone on the other side, please know how much I appreciate every single person that is standing with us. Whether you are running with us, donating to the MS Society, spreading awareness, or simply keeping us and other MS-warriors and their ‘others’ in your thoughts, I thank you.

I hold onto the hope that we will find a cure for this disease. I hold onto the hope that John will defeat this disease. I hold onto hope because hope is more powerful than fear.

Thank you for helping me hope.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt