Let’s Get Dirty: Old Ironsides Mud Challenge

Challengers are submerged into an icy bath with overhead ropes making escape impossible. Photos by Ursula Morawietz.

Challengers are submerged into an icy bath with overhead ropes making escape impossible. Photos by Ursula Morawietz.

By Alise Andrade, Fort Bliss Bugle Editor:

More than 550 individuals came out to get dirty during the second annual Old Ironsides Mud Challenge held Saturday at the Air Assault Obstacle Course and Rappel Tower on West Fort Bliss. The challenging course was four-miles long with more than 17 obstacles. However, before tackling the water and mud, participants had to complete 8-10 obstacles on the air assault course first.

According to Holly Imbriaco, group fitness director, Fort Bliss Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation organized the event this year because of its great success last year.

Imbriaco went on to recognize the collaborative efforts of all involved. “This event would not have been possible without FMWR, Randy Sutton, the air assault course manager, or Kris Brown, who designed and built all of the obstacles.”

Freezing their heads off, competitors scream to minimize the “pain” during the Ice-bath obstacle.

Freezing their heads off, competitors scream to minimize the “pain” during the Ice-bath obstacle.

Brown, the Joshua W. Soto Physical Fitness Center manager, aimed to improve upon last year’s course. “The ideas were a team effort. We tried to add new obstacles and make the course more challenging this year – especially by adding in more mud features.”

One of the new features and by far the most challenging was the ice bath, which consisted of an above ground cement ditch with netting over the top. “The ice bath is always a favorite one; the one that challenges you the most physically and mentally,” Imbriaco said. After low crawling through muddy waters, participants were greeted by an icy bath. With overhead ropes making escape impossible, challengers were forced to submerge their entire bodies into frigid waters that had been filled with 240-pounds of ice, Brown said.

In addition to the ice bath, competitors tackled an array of obstacles from crawling through simulated sewer pipes to scaling the “Great Walls of Bliss.”

Although the event was not timed nor scored, the first 500 runners to finish received an Old Ironsides Mud Challenge T-shirt.

A team carries logs during one phase of the Old Ironsides Mud Challenge Saturday on West Bliss.

A team carries logs during one phase of the Old Ironsides Mud Challenge Saturday on West Bliss.

The event was such a hit that Brown is already dreaming up new inventions for next year’s obstacle course. “We hope to make it even bigger and better,” Brown said. “We want participants to not only have fun, but also experience some of the things our Soldiers go through in their training. Whether you’re an experienced or novice athlete, the goal is to come out and have fun.”


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