Thousands expected for women-only mud run Saturday in Orland Park
By Mike Nolan email@example.com September 13, 2012 5:04PM
Nick Ziebarth, director of operations for Pretty Muddy, playfully cheers on Kyle Dentino to secure the corner of a registration tent for the Events 4 Women Pretty Muddy race in Orland Park. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 15, 2012 9:18AM
We know it isn’t owned by Max Yasgur, but 150 agrarian acres on the southwest fringe of Orland Park will be the site on Saturday of what might be described as “Mudstock.”
As many as 4,000 people are expected to descend on the farmland, the launching pad for Pretty Muddy, a venture organized by two Milwaukee men and described as an “all-female, team-focused 5K adventure and obstacle mud run series.” Other runs are planned for later this year in Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
More than 2,000 women have already signed up for the event, and as many as 2,000 spectators could attend, said Kevin Scharnek, a co-founder of Pretty Muddy who said he got the idea after his wife took part in a mud run last year.
“Book clubs have a place, girls-night-out at the bar has its place, and a lot of women enjoy doing those things,” he said. “Women are looking for ways to create bonding experiences with their friends, and this event gives them the opportunity to do something they would never do on their own.”
There will be music, kickboxing and an obstacle course dotted with mud pits — but not your ordinary garden-variety mud.
Scharnek, whose background is in marketing and consumer goods, said research showed the kind of mud used in other similar events was a turn-off for many women.
“Other events simply dig up dirt, dump it into a pit lined with plastic, then add water,” he said. “Dirt has rocks, and one of the big complaints we heard is when women crawl through the pits their hands and knees and elbows get scraped up.”
Sifted topsoil that’s been screened of rocks will be used instead Saturday.
More than 70 cubic yards of clean dirt have been hauled in, and “mud experts” are on hand “to make sure we get a good dirt-to-water ratio,” said Nick Ziebarth, who’s overseeing the logistics of the event.
The property is in unincorporated Orland Township, west of where Orland Parkway (183rd Street) dead ends, and online directions for the event have all traffic heading down Orland Parkway to the site. Ziebarth said gravel is being poured to build a ramp over the curb, and one of the fields has been mowed to provide parking for at least 1,200 cars.
Along with plenty of portable bathrooms, there will be a rinse-off station for participants and a changing area, he said.
Pretty Muddy began scouting sites for the inaugural event four months ago and found this property, Ziebarth said. Organizers declined to identify who owns the property.
Scharnek said that apart from the women taking part in the run and obstacle course, at least 1,000 spectators — husbands, boyfriends and other family members — are expected to attend.
A portion of each entry fee benefits the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Scharnek said. Other runs are planned for this fall in Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Va., and organizers hope to hold 25 to 30 events next year, he said.
Women can still register on Saturday, and the cost is $80. For information, visit www.prettymuddywomensrun.com.