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Dillingham Mud Run returns after a two-year hiatus

On a sunny afternoon in August, a series of large wooden trays filled with mud lined the gravel path by the Dillingham softball field. They were there for the Mud Run, an obstacle course organized by the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation.

The Mud Run returned after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus. It was an opportunity for kids — and some adults — to get outside, get active, and get muddy.

A giant inflatable arch marked the start of the course, and in true Bristol Bay fashion, the theme of the Mud Run was salmon. Volunteer and participant Deanna Baier described the setup.

"So we've got different stations where the participants essentially are salmon and they're going through or under a gillnet. They're going past bears, they're going up a fish ladder or waterfalls," she said.

 A young child makes it out from under the gillnet in the obstacle course.
Katherine Moncure
A runner makes it out from under the gillnet.

Kids hopped over logs and wriggled through the mud, trying not to get caught in the net. The “bears” were high school students on the cross country team, pelting the younger children with water balloons. Then, they got doused in bright color powder as they ran back toward the starting line.

The mud that everyone was crawling, jumping, and splashing through came from Kanakanak beach. The Dillingham cross country coach volunteered her team to set up the course, so the group of runners hauled the cold mud from one side of town to the other. Mud Run participant Dylan McCambly explained the process of how to create the perfect batch of mud.

"So we brought a few totes, some people and some shovels, and we kind of, like, put them in a certain way so we can just drag all the dirt into the totes," he said. "And then we brought them here, put on the tarps and just put some water on them, and eventually with some mixing, it turned to some mud."

Not everyone was as comfortable with the mud as Dylan was. Cross country coach Amanda Luiten brought her five-year old daughter, Lia, to the Mud Run too. When asked if she enjoyed the race, she had mixed feelings.

"Yeah, but I didn’t like that it squished in my shoes."

Lia’s mom asked her to elaborate.

"Did the mud feel good?" she asked.

"Yeah, but… no!" Lia replied.

"Is it because your shoes kept falling off?"


"Oh, I’m sorry. Do you want to do it again next year?"

"Oh but it’s so muddy. Too muddy!"

"What if we had boots?"


 A young child is helped through the muddy logs.
Katherine Moncure
A young child is helped through the muddy logs.

Get in touch with the author at Katherine@kdlg.org or call (907)-842-2200.

Katherine is covering local stories in Dillingham and the Bristol Bay area for the summer of 2022, and she's excited to be in Alaska for the first time. She's passionate about all forms of storytelling, and she recently graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, a 15-week intensive in radio and podcast production. When not working on stories or hosting the morning news, Katherine enjoys cooking, reading, and going on aimless walks. She'll pet any dog that wants attention.