The longest mud run in North Dakota is back for an eighth year of bringing the community together in a pool of mud.

Medieval Rush in New Salem, the first event of its kind in the area, is the longest mud run in North Dakota at 3.2 miles. 

A mud run is filled with pits and areas of mud that people have to go through, leading to participants being covered in dirt. There also are numerous obstacles along the way. There are sprinkler systems and sometimes rain storms that help the mud stay consistent.

New Salem's event has a medieval theme and runs rain or shine. Ariann Doe, a rusher for the past five runs, encourages participants to have fun like she does, even dressing up in medieval costumes.

“Who wouldn’t want to jump in a big mud-hole?” she said.

Medieval Rush is focused on entertainment rather than a competition, though last year there was a photo finish, said organizer Tanner Schweitzer, owner of coaching company RAW Strong.

This year's event is Saturday. Gates open under the big cow statue “Salem Sue" at 9 a.m., with a kids run for children ages 8 to 13 at 10 a.m. and opening ceremonies at 11 a.m. Schweitzer this year also is adding a medieval dirt bike race through the mud.

Participants must be at least 14 years old. Typically, the majority of racers are women between 25 and 45, but anyone is encouraged to join. The oldest rusher in past events was 68. The current preregistration price is $85 per team member or $90 for individuals. Registration the day of the event is $100 per person, for team members and individuals. There is a new spectator fee of $10 that allows people to stand in a closed-off area on top of the hill to see the entire course.

The event is timed with a shoe timer. The top team and the top male and female individuals each wins $200.

About 700 people take part each year.

“It’s kind of a fun thing in that way; everybody is just coming together, having fun, laughing at each other full of mud,” Schweitzer said.

A sense of community overcomes the rushers as they all start to help boost one another up over obstacles such as a warped wall, or pull one another out of the mud, participants said.

Miranda Klatt, a third-year participant, said she enjoys seeing others help one another. This year, not only does she have her own team, but so do her son and her fellow gym members. 

After the race, everyone celebrates their accomplishments during an after-party. They discuss what parts were difficult and what parts they weren’t able to do without the help of a push from another rusher.

Schweitzer builds the course and then runs through the 5K before anyone else. The course has 24 man-made and natural obstacles, including a warped wall similar to the "American Ninja Warrior" TV show. The event includes a slip-n-slide into mud about 30 yards long, a "dead body" drag and a stone throw where participants must throw concrete cylinders a specific distance.

Doe said the warped wall is the most nerve-racking. Josh Karey, a participant from last year, thinks the sandbag carry is the most challenging. Klatt sees the hill as the most challenging obstacle but loves the slip-n-slide down into the mud.

“Exercise should be fun,” she said.

If there is an obstacle someone does not want to participate in, they can bypass that challenge.

When Doe started, she had just turned 30 and was looking to get back into shape. She said she likes how the course changes every year.

People trying to win usually take about 40 minutes to finish. Other participants might take as long as 1 1/2 hours to complete the course.

“If you can go for a hike, you can do this,” Schweitzer said.

Karey, who participates in mud runs frequently, said it took him about 45 minutes to finish. He encourages first-timers to work on building their endurance to run 4 miles.

For more information visit medievalrush.com.

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