Purchase photos

Mud madness

8/16/2014

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

RUSSELL -- They made a pretty darned good pair as a coach and young talented runner in the late 1980s and early '90s.

Now, 30-some years later, Scott Young and Mickey Johnson have joined forces again.

Young, the former Russell High School cross country and track coach, and Johnson, the multi-time all-stater at RHS in both sports, are co-directors of the RunRussell website that informs competitors of numerous area and statewide running events throughout the year.

The Young-Johnson duo also hosts several events and helps set up other courses, with a portion of the proceeds going to different charities, such as food banks and churches.

As one of the directors of Freedom Fest, an annual Fourth of July event in Russell, Johnson came up with the idea for an obstacle course run she conducted in town the first year.

Young, owner of LaSada Farms, a local sporting clays and hunting service 7 miles southwest of town, thought he had the perfect facility for such an event.

"I thought, 'Why not bring it out here where there's all kinds of room?' " Young said of his 48-acre farm. "And we can make permanent obstacles, not spend all that time setting them up and taking them down for each event."

Thus, RunRussell was born.

Several times a year, people flock to LaSada to participate in one of three obstacle courses -- a 2-mile or 5K, or both, or a new 400-meter sprint course. And they can bring their children along to compete in a separate kids' race.

"It's one of those things, it's like running but it's not," Young said. "Some people run in between obstacles; others walk. Obstacle courses are the new rage. Two million people participated in them nationwide last year, and 2.5 (million) to 3 million are expected to compete this year."

Those competing on the LaSada course literally get to travel over the river and through the woods, as the Smoky Hill River runs through the 480-acre farm.

The most recent race was the Dynamite Dash on the Fourth of July that brought nearly 150 competitors to LaSada.

"You get those who are really serious, want to go gung-ho and challenge themselves," Young said. "And you have people who want to walk. Actually, the obstacles themselves are a challenge."

Obstacles include climbing up ladders and ropes, through tires, across monkey bars and over wooden planks. The next signature event, the Creepy Crawl, is scheduled for Oct. 14. More information can be found at www.runrussell.com.

"When we did the first run at Freedom Fest, we asked people what they would like to see, and they said an obstacle course," said Johnson, who competes in obstacle runs herself. "Being at the farm, it has worked out really well."

A favorite obstacle of the course is the mud pit.

"Anything with mud," Young said. "That's the biggest thing we get from year to year. We ask what would they like to see more of, and we hear, 'More mud, more mud, more mud.' "

Competitors appear to enjoy the water slide at the end just as well.

Squeals and giggles could be heard around the farm July 4 as hot, muddy runners hit the 120-foot slide on which Young's wife, Roxanne, was busy pouring detergent and baby oil to make it a quick ride into the large water pit below.

"That's the biggest bath tub you've ever seen," Young said. "And who has a 120-foot water slide in their back yard?"

While Young designs, builds and maintains the course, Johnson solicits sponsors, donations and volunteer workers and takes care of the entries.

"She used to take orders from me when she was in high school," Young said. "Now, it's kind of a role reversal."

Nonetheless, they still are a good pair.

"Mickey will ask me if I can build something, and there's nothing we can't do," Young said. "If I can see it, then we can build it."