Not even basic training prepared Dustin Fisher and Tanner Cain for what they endured Saturday at Maple Ski Ridge in Rotterdam.
The 22-year-olds, both in the Navy and stationed in Ballston Spa, were among hundreds to slog through the third annual Run the Ridge 5K Mud Run.
Just like the other finishers, the duo had dog tags thrown around their muddy necks after they jumped over three rows of burning embers and crossed the finish line.
Race organizers said just over 400 people registered in advance and at least 100 more signed up Saturday morning. The run, which featured three heats in the morning and a 2K family run in the afternoon, benefits Albany Vet Center, a community-based counseling center run by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
“Much harder than any training we’ve done,” said Cain, of Ada, Oklahoma, the mud on his skin starting to dry about a half-hour after he finished the race in 40 minutes. “Much, much harder.”
Fisher, who finished a couple minutes behind Cain, said the course was closer in difficulty to Marine and Army training.
“They would be perfect for this,” the Amarillo, Texas, native said. “This was difficult.”
Rob Giordano, a lieutenant corporal in the Army, helped design the course, which featured about 10 new obstacles this year, including a 15-foot ladder, a 4-foot-deep water pit and a less-than-intimidating beach ball pit. He said he didn’t know of any other 5Ks with as many obstacles as this one.
“The terrain runs from flat to very sharp inclines, through woods, and there’s a lot of different mud pits, water, climbing obstacles,” he said. “So this course is really designed to hit your entire body.”
Marilyn Peterson, general manager and co-owner of Maple Ski Ridge, said they were glad to support the cause. “We are a family-owned business and we really appreciate the military, and we try to do what we can,” she said.
Dawn Micare, a frequent mud runner from Latham, said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the course.
“There was a lot of terrain, there was a lot of good obstacles, there was a lot of mud, there was barbed wire, and fire,” she said. “All important parts of an obstacle mud run.”
She encouraged her father-in-law, Art Micare, to run with her and her 11-year-old daughter, sister-in-law and 13-year-old nephew.
“My daughter-in-laws and grandkids kept me going, a little help once in a while,” Art Micare said. “We all stuck pretty much together.”
And while Art joked that the fivesome didn’t finish in the top five, he said he was happy just to cross the finish line and planned to run again next year.
“I feel great about it, really, that I can do it at my age even,” said Micare, 74.
The most challenging part, he said, was climbing out of the dumpster of water.
“My daughter-in-law helped me,” he said.
“I gave him a boost,” Dawn Micare said with a grin.