DADE CITY — Gallivanting through mud pits, water slides and architectural obstacles, women from all over Tampa Bay converged Saturday on Little Everglades Ranch for the Pretty Muddy 5K.
The event was created by a pair of business executives who watched how their wives juggled motherhood and their careers, and wanted to create an event for them to let down their hair and have some fun. There's no trophy or reward at the end of this muddy adventure. About 200 women turned out Saturday simply for the challenge and the sisterhood bonding experience of running the race with their best friends.
"Ever since the concept of Pretty Muddy began in late 2011, we knew right away Tampa was a market we needed to be in," said Kevin Scharnek, co-founder of Pretty Muddy. "We felt the world didn't need another run, but rather an experience that teams of women couldn't find anywhere else. We've set out to create a series of destination events for women everywhere that will be one part mud-run, one part day-spa, and one part ladies night out. Little Everglade's Ranch is the perfect place for an event like this."
Even as they were soaked in mud, participants praised the beauty of the Little Everglades Ranch. Jessica Birchmeier, 24, came to the event with her family, who created team Muddy Melons, and was delighted by her trek through the scenic surroundings.
"It's absolutely gorgeous," said Birchmeier, who lives in Palm Harbor. "I love an opportunity to do something fun and get dirty. They have it set up really well. I'm glad my family told me about it. I had a lot of fun and it was definitely worth the drive."
The festive atmosphere was complete with music and games for participants to enjoy after crossing the finish line. With drinks and conversation flowing, the field that annually welcomes horse and carriage racers for the Little Everglades Steeplechase was transformed into a festival ground full of vendor tents and abuzz with women comparing stories of overcoming the day's obstacles.
"It was muddy, that's for sure," said 25-year-old Erin McCullough of Tampa. "The obstacles were tough but worth it. There was one with a water slide that cleans you off for a second before you get shot out right into a mud pit. That was a lot of fun. Combining mud and beer, it's hard not to have fun."