CANTON - Barbara A. Gardner and her husband, Joseph J., of Massena remember the days when children would get in trouble for playing in the mud.
On Saturday morning the couple laughed as they watched youngsters and adults slither their way through mud pits while racing through an obstacle course off Plains Road that wound its way from an open grassy field into the nearby woods.
“Parents used to give kids hell for playing in the mud,” Mrs. Gardner said. “Now they’re encouraging it.”
The couple made the trip to Canton to watch their adult daughter, Wendy Chapman, participate in the Canton Pee Wee Mud Run, a fundraising event that featured a 1-mile obstacle course for kids and a 3-mile course for grown-ups.
Raffles, T-shirt sales and a concession stand sponsored by the Canton Booster Club added to the festive atmosphere.
Organizer Amy Longshore Hunt estimated that more than 300 people participated and she’s still calculating how much money was raised. The proceeds will go to the Canton Pee Wee Association and the St. Lawrence County Fire Training Center, West Potsdam.
“It was a perfect day,” she said. “We had some bee stings, but no one got hurt.”
Families, sports teams and camera-toting spectators gathered on a grassy bank waiting for the sound of a cap gun to start the races. Many wrapped duct tape around their sneakers so they wouldn’t lose them during the run.
Besides crawling through water-filled mud pits, participants jumped over hay bales, slid down a 75-foot tall water slide and maneuvered through rubber tires. Mrs. Hunt spent about three months getting the courses ready and finding sponsors to fund some of the obstacles.
Josie A. Hardy, said her son, Colden, had to coax her into the idea of running through mud. She wore a T-shirt that read, “I let a 9-year-old talk me into this.”
“I usually run marathons and triathlons, so I’m a little out of my comfort zone,” Mrs. Hardy said. “I didn’t want to say no to something that gets him (Colden) out of the house and away from video games.”
Robert “Bob” J. Dunkelberg and his daughter, Gabby M., 16, of Gouverneur, said they decided at the spur of the moment to participate in their first mud run.
“It’s something different, a challenge,” Mr. Dunkelberg said as he waited for the race to start.
Teah L. Griffith of Gouverneur and her 8-year-old twin daughters, Randi E. and Rikki L., came to the event with friends to get some exercise.
“It’s good endurance training,” said Mrs. Griffith, Gouverneur. “The kids are excited to get dirty. They love the mud.”
Some members of the Canton Central girls’ varsity soccer team decided to do the run together.
“It’s good team bonding,” Samantha M. Curtis, 1,5 said.
The first Canton Mud Run was held two years ago, but the event was not held last year because the ground was too wet.
Mrs. Hunt anticipated that this year’s turnout would be higher, but she learned Saturday that two other mud runs were held in the region the same day. She expects the Canton Mud Run will be an annual summer event.
“I expected more people, but it still went great,” she said. “It’s just really different and a lot of fun.”