Mud run ends with wedding vows
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
"For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In good times and in bad."
We've all heard the traditional wedding vows. And they were spoken at Saturday's wedding uniting Hays residents Kali Bogart and Damon DeBey in marriage.
But this was far from a traditional wedding.
Pastor Renita Volker could just as easily have thrown something like "whether clean or muddy" in the vows.
All along, Kali and Damon knew they wanted a non-traditional setting for their wedding.
No one would argue they accomplished that goal -- and then some.
After setting their wedding date for summer 2013, they learned many family members would be coming to Hays this weekend for the Big Creek Mud Run sponsored by Fort Hays State University and the Center for Health Improvement at HaysMed.
"Our family likes this kind of thing, has participated in several warrior dashes and color runs," Kali said.
The couple was able to reserve the VFW in Hays for a Saturday evening meal, reception and dance to keep with some wedding tradition. But they decided to say their vows at the mud run, a 2-mile obstacle course around Big Creek that includes getting wet -- and muddy.
Kali got a little muddier than some participants after she tried to tackle her fiance in the mud pit. Of course, he had to retaliate and smeared mud all over her face.
"She started it," said Damon, who said he thought it would be fun to have a lot of his friends and family run the course together.
"We knew a lot of people who were going to do (the mud run), so we thought 'Why not just get married here, too,' " he said.
"I had suggested it," Kali added, "and he is pretty much 'Whatever you want.' "
The 350-some participants took off in 20-minute intervals, with all of the Bogart-DeBey wedding party together, of course, and the honored couple identified with "bride" and "groom" printed on the back of their T-shirts.
Several members of the wedding party also participated in the mud run, including Damon's mom, Rhonda DeBey from Phillipsburg.
Rhonda DeBey said she wasn't all that surprised when she first heard about the wedding plans.
"I thought, 'Well, that oughta be fun,' " she said.
Kali's dad said he definitely wasn't taken aback.
"Since she's been little, you could tell her to walk a straight line, she would zig-zag," Heath Bogart said with a laugh. "She has always wanted to prove she's very independent."
There also were several family members who had fun just watching.
"I might have done it, but I probably couldn't have made it over some of the obstacles," said Mary Balch, Damon's grandmother from Colorado Springs, Colo., who made the trip with her husband, Joseph Balch.
There were a few other traditions upheld for the wedding. Bogart wore a veil, although it was the same one she wore in the mud run, so just like her face, her veil was streaked with mud.
Kali's dad walked his daughter down the aisle. Well, actually, it was a patch of native grass.
"Gotta stay with tradition," Heath Bogart said with a grin.
Volker, a pastor from Burr Oak, is a friend of Rhonda DeBey, who said Volker "performs weddings in odd little places."
Volker admitted, however, the banks of Big Creek was even a first for her.
"I must say, this is my first mud run wedding," she said.
"It's different," Rhonda DeBey said. "Who knows? It might start a trend."