ZEPHYRHILLS — What was once the driving range at Hidden Creek Golf Club became the start and finish line. The clubhouse provided a stage for the live band, and the once-beautiful rolling fairways were transformed into an obstacle course for the first-ever Hidden Creek Mud Run.
About 1,100 runners of all ages trotted through a 5K course while traversing mud pits, walls, trees, ponds and streams Saturday. Organizer Twyla Booker-Kincaid said she's already looking forward to the next event at Hidden Creek.
"It was chaos but it turned out very well because the whole community pulled together to make this happen," Booker-Kincaid said. "The fruit stand down the street donated bananas, we had several local vendors come in and help out, and for being my first time organizing an event like this I was pleased with what we were able to do."
She said the next mud run will be Sept. 21 and will have a 1980s theme.
The course at Hidden Creek offered runners significant challenges that some had seen before when Mud Endeavor, a household name in the world of mud runs, hosted an event at the Rec Park in April.
"Mud Endeavor was great. They showed me the ropes, and we actually bought all the obstacles we used from them," Booker-Kincaid said. "But nothing could prepare me for the chaos of actually keeping everything on schedule and organized. It's like when you read a book about doing something and then you go do it."
Her family leased the Hidden Creek property last year with mud runs in mind and immediately began prepping the property. Their vision came to fruition Saturday with runners like Ocala's Franklin Gonzalez, the fourth-place finisher in the first heat of the day.
"The water challenges actually make it a lot harder," Gonzalez said. "You go from running on land to being neck deep in water and the level of endurance you need to get through that is a bit higher. It really forces you to push yourself. This whole thing was really well done. I can't wait to see what the organizers of this are going to do for the next one."
Then there was Spring Hill resident Jose Cheloman Alonzo, 36, who is training for the World's Toughest Mud Run in November. The 24-hour endurance challenge will be held in New Jersey.
"This course is very good practice for me," Cheloman Alonzo said. "This is a fun yet competitive setting. The course is difficult, but you can have kids out here, which is nice. The obstacles are tough for everybody, so it makes it interesting to see how you can push yourself out here."