So far, almost 1,800 kids have signed up this year for the Delaware Mud Run Jr., the area's dirtiest mile-long race for kids. One of those kids is 11-year-old Becca Alexander, a Meredith Everett Middle School sixth grader who loves math, soccer, riding her bike with her friends and getting more than a little bit muddy at Frightland.
Becca has participated since the event's inception in 2011, when 900 kids signed up and collectively raised more than $30,000 for the Leukemia Research Foundation of Delaware. Then, last year, she was one of 1,200 pint-sized runners who raised $70,000.
With two years under her belt, Becca goes into her third race as a veteran runner with lots of information and advice for first-time racers, from what to do to prepare to what to expect during and after the race.
Q Will you be running the race as an individual or a group this year?
A I'll be running myself. The first year I did it with the girls from my soccer team. We just thought it would be fun. Last year, I ran it by myself, though. I like running it an individual, though. If you're going faster or slower than your group, you either have to wait for them or they have to wait for you. If you're by yourself, you can go at your own pace. (Note: According to event organizer Denni Ferrara, everyone signs up as an individual. However, groups that would like to run as a "team" are advised to sign up for the same wave.)
Q For a kid who has never run it, what's it like?
A Well, obviously, it's very muddy. But, you're not running the whole time. Sometimes you have to ARMY-crawl through mud. Last year, we had to climb over a sand wall and jump over haystacks. We also had to walk across these beams that were over muddy water. There was also this huge hill that we got to slide down. At the bottom, there was a big mud pit. That's probably the best part.
Q What should kids do to prepare?
A Right before you start, I wouldn't eat a lot of food. Once you start to run a lot, your stomach is going to start turning and turning and you don't want to throw up. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables right up to the date, though. Practice running some, too. Maybe find a hill and practice that because there is a hill. When I've done it before, I would run a mile or so in my neighborhood to get ready.
Page 2 of 2 - Q Last year, 1,200 kids ran the race altogether. Does that make it hard at all? What's your advice on that?
A At the beginning, there are so many people. Try to get on the outside. There are going to be a lot of people in the middle and towards the front because they want to get to the end first. But, if you stay in the back or on the side, there's not as many people. Plus, that might keep you from getting tripped up on the gravel that you have to start on. You don't want to fall down there.
Q Afterwards, you're really dirty, right? What do you do?
A For the ride home, I would bring some trash bags that you can sit on and not get the seat all muddy. Also, bring some water so you can rinse your legs off. Bring extra towels, too.
Q What would you say to kids who are nervous about doing it?
A Well, there's always a lot of kids your age who are doing it so you could run with somebody if you needed to. But, there's no reason to be scared because even though it's kind-of a race, it's not really important to be first or anything. You should be proud if you finish. The most important thing is that it raises money for Leukemia research. Just have fun with it.
Q Has participating in the Mud Run Jr. taught you anything about yourself?
A Kind-of. Once you start, you think you're going to finish really fast. But, as you go, you start to realize that you're not as fast as you think. But, that's not a bad thing. When you get to the end and see your time, you realize that you're actually faster than some people, too. It's good to just get through it and finish. I feel like as long as you finish, you did good.