Running 10 kilometers may not sound like a lot of fun, but when you throw in a chance to play in the mud, it becomes a little more inviting.
The Dirty Dash, founded by Jeff Harps in 2010 is a new style of race offered in Salt Lake that entices would-be contestants to race by putting a new spin on running. Contestants in Soldier Hollow, September 17 and 24, will maneuver through mud pits and over obstacles along the 6.2-mile course.
The idea behind the race, according to Harps, is to find communities with appreciation for running but take it further by “catering to everybody,” getting people running that normally do not get out to do this kind of exercise.
After coming up with the idea with some friends from business school at the University of Utah, Harps expected things to go slowly for his new business. A modest goal for the first year of 2000 people was largely exceeded after the first season of the Dirty Dash was sold out in only a month and a half. The total number of first-year participants reached over 5000.
Sophomore Derek Smith was one of those 5000. “It sounded fun because you’ve got all that mud, and it made running actually appealing,” Smith said. Smith ran the 10k with his girlfriend, and will return this year with more of his friends.
Kaiti Pratt, senior communications major, will be teaming up with Smith and some other friends to tackle the 10k in Salt Lake. Pratt is a running enthusiast, used to the strain of half-marathons. “I’m more interested in having a good time,” Pratt said, “but i am still interested to see how obstacles and mud are going to affect my running.”
Neither the running nor the mud and obstacles are the primary cause for concern, according to Whitney Wilkinson, a new addition to the faculty in the communications department. Wilkinson’s least favorite part was the ice-cold showers at the end of the race. According to Harps, this plays to the rough and authentic experience of the Dirty Dash. Still, Wilkinson said, she would have “paid a million dollars for a warm shower.”
Despite the shock of cold water at the end of the race, Wilkinson still recognizes this event as a great opportunity for “non-hardcore runners” to become part of the running community.
The two upcoming races will mark the end of the second season for the Dirty Dash, but there will be more mud to come. Watch out for more contaminated competition next year as the Dirty Dash makes its way through Seattle and Spokane, Wash., Boise, Idaho, Billings, Mont. and back to Salt Lake again.