Team Princesses in Control pushes toward the finish line during the S&M Challenge Saturday in Castle Rock, a 5K obstacle course organized by Cowlitz Valley Runners.
A good 400 participants turned out in the cold and wet to get even colder and wetter for the S&M (Sand & Misery) Challenge Saturday in Castle Rock.
Organized by Cowlitz Valley Runners (CVR), this five-kilometer obstacle course is in its fourth year and has seen participation continue to grow, according to CVR President Dave Vorse.
"These mud runs have become very popular," said Vorse.
He noted how the event has attracted residents with a wide range of fitness levels, from conditioned athletes who finish the course in just about half an hour, to fun-seekers who take their time for a two-hour-plus finish.
"They’re just out there trying to have a good time," said Vorse.
And the challenges were no small matter, including a K-9 obstacle, wire low crawl, ladder crawl, sand trap, pipe crawl, swamp pit, sea of tires and barrier wall, to name a few.
And who managed to overcome them all the fastest this year? R.A. Long High School student Dustin Nading, who won in the individual category with a time of 26:45. Nading, 17, had also set the fastest time last year with 31:22, but has yet to beat the event record set in 2011 by then-18-year-old Nate Starr of 24:10.
When asked what the experience had been like compared to his expectations beforehand, Nading said, "What you think of the cold and the mud is just about right."
Finishing first among the women this year was KC Smith at 35:12, taking her third first-place ranking in a row.
And the fastest team out of 18 five-person groups was Dinosaur Chaos, comprised of CJ Baker, Pat Doe, Emma Lambert Noah Benson and Kai Simpson, coming in at 37:11.
After completing another successful S&M this year, CVR will be getting ready for Mt. Mania, scheduled for July 26, while the next athletic event will be I Topped the Rock June 21, organized by the Castle Rock PTO.
A face-down crawl through the mud was just another obstacles during the race. Many participants cringed when a nearby organizer reminded them it was their task to "go under the net."
Racers had to scale a tire wall toward the end of the course, and many teams waited until all members were over the top, encouraging them along the way.
R.A. Long High School student Dustin Nading took first place for the second year in a row, this year with a time of 26:45, though still shy of the event record set in 2011 by then-18-year-old Nate Starr of 24:10.