Mudders’ day is October 20 in Rappahannock

If the term “mud run” doesn’t immediately mean anything to you, a brief description is probably necessary. A mud run is essentially a mix of an obstacle course and a marathon, designed to be run through – what else? – lots of mud.

Thanks to the efforts of Andrew Liverman, son of local resident Thierry Liverman, for one weekend in October, a portion of farm and forestland along Battle Mountain Road in Amissville will be converted into a new mud run: the inaugural Rogue Runner. Liverman says the decision to hold the race in Rappahannock County – specifically on his father’s property – was an easy one.

“The ground [here] is really good to hold the event, with good water and elevation changes,” said Liverman. “The logistics of [this] location were just easier than others.”

With more than 20 obstacles spread over a six-mile course, Rogue Runner offers to push competitors to their physical limits and, as its website promises, “force them to work as teams.”

Probably the most famous mud run event is Tough Mudder, a notoriously difficult 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by former members of the British Special Forces. Rogue Runner may not quite match Tough Mudder for distance, but that’s by design.

“We’re big fans of Tough Mudder . . . and other mud runs,” says the FAQ section of the organizers’ website (roguerunnerrace.com). “[But] we’re looking to be challenged by the overall course and especially the obstacles, not just the course distance or terrain.”

Rogue Runner was founded by Liverman, former U.S. National Team members and college athletes, with some help from Hollywood set designers to help design the obstacles and make them distinctive.

Racers in a previous mud run jog through a creek on their way to the next obstacle. Rogue Runner will feature challenges like this, along with many more, that will consistently push contestants.
Racers in a previous mud run jog through a creek on their way to the next obstacle. Rogue Runner will feature challenges like this, along with many more, that will consistently push contestants. Photo courtesy of Andrew Liverman.

“I worked in real estate and construction,” said Liverman, who has competed in numerous mud runs and endurance runs over his lifetime. “So I had the background to actually go out and start building my own course.”

Liverman also said he’s received a lot of help along the way, and not just in building the actual obstacles. He’s also been working closely with local EMTs and Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie C. Smith to ensure the logistics – including parking – and course safety.

The obstacles draw inspiration from other mud runs, and while the list is still being finalized, the current course is set to feature a sprint across bales of hay (with some missing, naturally), a tightrope walk, swinging monkey bars, a 75-foot long water slide – and lots and lots of mud, including a slog through a waist-deep pit filled with it.

“I went and watched half-a-dozen of these events over the summer to get a feel for the obstacles,” said Liverman. “I haven’t seen much wire work at any of the other ones, so that’s something we’re going to focus on.”

It’s those obstacles which set Rogue Runner apart from other events like it. This year’s course has been specifically designed test athletes of all skill levels. To that end, each of the 25 obstacles is going to be graded similar to ski slopes: a blue circle will represent easy obstacles, a green square represents medium difficulty and a black diamond is reserved for the most physically challenging ones.

“Those are for if you’re feeling crazy,” Liverman says with a laugh.

Racers are also welcome to skip past any obstacle they don’t feel comfortable with, although the initial wave of “elite” athletes may be penalized for doing so. “One of the things I wanted to do is make it so that even people who don’t typically run can come out and complete the course,” said Liverman.

This year may be the first one for Rogue Runner, but if Liverman has his way it won’t be the last. “We have another one coming up in Georgia,” said Liverman, who works full time to promote and plan Rogue Runner. “And we’re already in the midst of planning six to 10 events for the 2013 calendar.”

Rogue Runner is scheduled for the morning of Oct. 20, with registration at $92 (until Sept. 20, after which the price goes up), which includes $12 for the race insurance, a T-shirt, your individual timed race results and entry into the after-party. Some of the proceeds benefit Back On My Feet, Rogue Runner’s charity partner, which helps homeless people find job training, employment and housing opportunities.

More than 1,200 people have already registered, and Liverman said he expects the final tally to be between 1,500 and 2,500.

The first wave will take off at 9 a.m., with subsequent waves launching every 30 minutes; the final wave starts at 1. Spectators are welcome; a spectator pass is $5 online, $7 at the gate.

There will also be two races designed for the kids (each costs around $15): a 200-yard dash for ages 4 to 8, and a longer 800-yard course for ages 9 to 12. For more information – including a breakdown of all 25 obstacles – and to register for Rogue Runner, either individually or as a team member, visit roguerunnerrace.com/virginia.