THORNBURY >> Orange tutus and fluorescent pink tank tops were only bright so long before participants got way further than knee deep in the mud at this year’s MuckFestMS on the grounds of the Glen Mills School.
On Saturday and today, hundreds will go out in waves to finish the 5K with obstacles such as the Triple Pitts, Skid Mark, Mount Muck-imanjaro, Big Balls, Flying Muckers and Walk on Water, all to help combat multiple sclerosis.
To date, $29 million has been raised for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society through the event.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system ranging from numbness to blindness and paralysis, affecting more than 2.3 million people throughout the world.
Many at the event Saturday were getting dirty for a friend or loved one.
Part of the Slow & Dirty team, MacKenzie Rivers and her family have been participating for seven years.
“We do it for my sister,” she said of Casey Rueger Sparks, who lives outside Quakertown, Pa. “She has MS. She’s 35 and has had it since she’s been 27. We do it every year. We come from Connecticut and do it.”
Besides, she said there’s just something about getting down and dirty.
“It’s awesome!” Rivers exclaimed, standing near her mom, Linda Boyd. “You can’t go in there and try to be dainty about it.”
And, she said, “It’s great for the skin. People pay a lot of money (for mud baths).”
Having finished the course, she laughed, “One woman had her foot stuck so far in the mud today, I didn’t think she was coming out.”
Often repeated by many of the participants was “fun” and “for a good cause.”
Rivers was included.
“I love to see all the people that come out to support the cause,” she said. “It’s really great. It’s getting dirty for a good reason. You hope that people one day find a cure for it.”
Danielle Buchanan, a three-year MuckFest veteran, loves the mucky parts of it.
“Seeing people getting dirty and getting freaked out about it and then they have to suck it up because they’re going to be completely covered in mud,” she said. “It’s completely disgusting but you don’t think about it because you’re having fun.”
A native of Newtown Square, Buchanan works at the Villanova-based employee benefits consulting firm Pentra and was part of the 30-member Mudder Muckin’ Pentra.
She said the company is always trying to find team-building activities.
“We try to find a spin on it where we can give back,” she said. “This is something everybody can do.”
In fact, her husband, Josh and her 15-year-old son, John, joined her this year. She persuaded her brother-in-law, Brandon, to recruit 11 members from his gym, Palangi Plus in Morton, to launch a team of their own, the Palangi Swingers.
For folks like Alyssa Acevedo of Bristol, Pa., MuckFestMS was really moving.
She was there to cheer on the 20-member Team Lee, who was at Glen Mills to support her.
“I have MS,” she said, adding that she was diagnosed about a year ago, right after Father’s Day. “I lost my eye vision completely on my left eye. Then, I was admitted to Jefferson Hospital. I got treatment for three days, every six hours.”
Acevedo got lucky – her vision returned.
“I’m blessed,” she said, as she continues to live with the disease and its symptoms. “Ever since then, I get my treatments. They said there’s no cure for it. I just go with it. I don’t let it stop me.”
On Saturday, at MuckFest for the first time, Acevedo was touched by all those trying to do something to move towards a cure.
“When I was walking, I was a little bit emotional,” she said, “because you just feel like the good vibe with it.”
Kamerin Arthurs of Chester can now scratch an item off her wish list.
A first year participant, she said, “It’s something I always wanted to do, kinda like a bucket list thing. I always wanted to do a mud run.”
So she sandwiched this between the Broad Street Run and the other neighborhood 5Ks she runs during the season so she could partake in the fun.
Team Beat Your Feet was muddin’ up for their teammate Scott Neil, who has an MS diagnosis, said the comradery was really cool from the participants to the volunteers.
“You always hear how the world’s so terrible today,” Mike Treut said, pointing out to all the smiling muddy people around him. “Oh yeah?”