PINNACLE — More than a thousand participants got their chance to “become one with the mud” Saturday morning at the Jomeokee Park and Campground for the sixth annual 5K Marine Mud Run. Run spokesperson Doug “Major Mud” Coe estimated about 1,900 (counting teams and individuals) had registered. He said volunteers numbered more than 250, including fire department and emergency medical personnel.
The run is staged by Winston-Salem’s Marine Corps League Detachment #1075. This year’s preliminary numbers indicated a slight decrease in participation. Coe pointed out the charity run had some tough competition this year with a lot going on in the area including Forsyth County Schools’ commencement. He said the run hasn’t changed much since its inception, but organizers do their best to improve and add at least one new obstacle a year.
“This year’s new obstacle was a slip and slide,” said Coe. “It’s around 50 feet long and made of vinyl which we sprayed with soap and water. Everybody loved it. They kept right on going when they hit the grass at the bottom. We had a lot of repeat customers on the slide.”
Coe said all net proceeds from the run go to area charities. One popular charity for the detachment is Wounded Warrior Battalion East (WWBE). He explained that WWBE — not to be confused with the Wounded Warrior Project — was established at the Marine Corps base Camp Lejune in Jacksonville to house wounded soldiers and offers them spiritual, physical and vocational rehabilitation opportunities.
“The new building was opened about two years ago. They went all out. They’re really treating the guys well,” Coe said. “I’m a physical therapist and I’d love to have some of the equipment they have. The WWBE is top notch. It is an awesome place.”
He pointed out Wounded Warrior Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Leland Suttee and his staffers ran in the race this year and last year. Their participation is in recognition for the run’s support through its fundraising.
Information from Coe indicates the run has contributed $66,000 in five years to WWBE with hopes to add another $40,000 this year. The detachment is second in the state in its support of the Marine Toys For Tots program with Coe setting his sights on being number one next year.
The group also supports the “Veterans Helping Veterans Heal” program aimed at homeless military veterans, and portions of the net proceeds from the run also go to help social workers involved in Forsyth County Schools.
“We are all for the charities,” said Coe. “It’s not about us. We have always liked to focus on community and family.” He noted that the cost of the run has been kept low through local business sponsors so families on tight budgets could have every member participate. Coe praised the support of Pepsi, Hanes Brands, Chick-fil-A, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Hauser Rental.
Family and the Marine esprit de corps are similar and highly stressed in the event where no team member is left behind. One example of this is participant Joe Cherry of Winston-Salem. He said he was awakened that same morning by family member Donald McMillian, who came in from Atlanta to participate in the event.
“He woke me up and said we’re going to go and we did,” said Cherry, who is in the process of preparing for knee surgery. Fate and the unsure traction offered in mud left him limping on the same knee which is due to be replaced in nine weeks. Cherry talked about how he was going to finish. It was an example for his three sons, Joseph, 3, Simon, 7, and 5-year-old Moses.
“I’m in a little pain, but life has some pain,” said Cherry. “I can’t let these young men down. They love this. We’re not even through, and they’re talking about coming back next year.”
The group walked across the finish line together.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.