GREENWICH, Conn. – Stephanie O’Donnell didn’t want any part of jumping into a lake during last year’s Muddy Up 5K Race and Family Walk at Camp Simmons in Greenwich. But a little peer pressure helped O’Donnell take the plunge.
“The one thing I didn’t want to do was jump in that lake,’’ said O’Donnell, education and technology coordinator for Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, the host of the event. “When I got there, there was this big crowd and I jumped right in. I got completely muddy. I don’t know if I would have done it without those people encouraging me.”
O’Donnell will be at Camp Simmons again on Sept. 29 when the second edition of the race starts at Camp Simmons. Runners and walkers navigate their way through the 77-acre property on rugged trails and over, around and through man-made obstacles. Bob DeAngelo, executive director of Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, created the course and the obstacles. O’Donnell said he has promised different challenges this year.
“This has been a pet project for Bob,’’ O’Donnell said. “It’s something he has wanted to do for a long time. Bob said there’s going to be some mystery obstacles. I’m trying to get him to tell me what they are.”
O’Donnell and Takeia McAlister, marketing coordinator for the club, were newbie runners last year. Both women were apprehensive before the race and thrilled with it afterward.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into,’’ McAlister said. “A friend of mine and I ran together and we finished dead last. That wasn’t on purpose. We were so far behind that Greenwich Fire Department (which hoses off the contestants afterwards) had already left. But it was a lot of fun. It was an experience that unless you were there in person, you couldn’t describe.”
McAlister encountered her own travails during last year’s race. Each time she came across something new, she remembered that this task was challenging her to step outside of her comfort zone.
“I thought to myself, Bob DeAngelo what are you doing to me with these obstacles?’’ McAlister said. “There was one that felt like quick sand. It felt like I was in 'Hunger Games.' Whenever we’d go through some sticky situation, I’d feel nervous at first, but then laugh it off because I know Bob wouldn’t leave us out there. Then when we finally finished, I thought this is great, we’re definitely going to do this again. This year, I hope in time to get hosed off.”
There are some new features to this year’s race. There will be a timed division for runners who want to race the clock. There is also a team component. Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich is creating its own team of current and past members.
“I think we have 20 members or more for our team,’’ O’Donnell said. “I’m excited about the team element. I think it will be a lot of fun.”
McAlister said the number of participants has doubled since last year’s total of 200. The Club also hopes to generate $50,000 to support Outdoor Adventure Programs run by the Club, which also sponsors a wide variety of activities for Greenwich children ages 6-18.
“We want people to see what we have,’’ McAlister said. “Everyone was pleased with how the first race came out. We know it will be the same if not better this year.”