Mad Mud Run returns, this time with additional running and more mud |

Mad Mud Run returns, this time with additional running and more mud

Kathy Elliott crawls through the mud pit during the 2012 Steamboat Mad Mud Run at Steamboat Ski Area.

There are several new obstacles, a new distance and a new weekend. Oh, yeah, there will be more mud, too.

Organizers hope a heap of changes can build on the success of last year's inaugural Steamboat Mad Mud Run by making the 2013 version more fun and more challenging.

The event returns Saturday to the slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area, with the first heat of a day of racing taking off from the Gondola Square starting line at 10 a.m.

The most obvious change for this year's event is the date, which was bumped up about two weeks from last year's early July date.

The July date matched up the Mad Mud Run with what often is one of the busiest tourism weekends of the season, but there also were problems with the timing that could be resolved with a mid-June schedule. The first event drew nearly 500 athletes, but some of the planned obstacles never came to fruition. A fire pit had to be shelved in the face of a county-wide fire ban and even mud was a bit hard to come by as one of the necessary ingredients was in short supply as the region dealt with a drought.

"We moved it because this was an open weekend so we weren't competing with a lot of other events," race director Lee Sims said. "Moving it earlier also means we'll have water to work with. Last year that wasn't an option and we didn't want to have to do that again."

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This year's layout will include that fire obstacle and a second mud pit. Trail designers also hope they'll still be able to scoop enough snow into another section to make for one particularly cold hurdle for runners. That's an option that certainly wasn't possible during last year's hot, dry spring and summer.

It should all add up to nearly twice as many obstacles, and they will be spread over more trail, with the course stretching from 2.5 miles last year to a full 3.1 miles, or 5 kilometers, this year.

"After last year we heard the course was a little too short and that it wasn't hard enough," Sims said. "We wanted to produce a more challenging course so people felt they were getting their money's worth, getting a high activity level and enjoying what was really, truly an obstacle course."

Sims said there are about 375 runners already registered. Registration remains open at The cost is a $60, a 20 percent discount, until Thursday.

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