To benefit Boys & Girls Club, runners get down and dirty

Normally a serious runner will not look at ground softened by pouring rains the day before under gray, overcast skies and think it is ideal for anything other than avoiding it.

But the race that took place last Saturday at Camp Simmons was anything but normal. The rains the day before were not only welcomed, they were actually celebrated. Because all of that bad weather softened up the ground perfectly for the first of what is now expected to become an annual Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich Mud Run. This club fund-raiser attracted close to 200 runners and spectators who were more than willing to get dirty.

The course was designed by Matt Yardis, of Threads & Treads, who helped put the event together, and Bob DeAngelo, the club’s executive director. But they didn’t just put the race together. They ran it just like everyone else, joining a group of men, women and children that also included Matt’s father, Mickey Yardis, owner of Threads & Treads, Greenwich jeweler Steven Fox and his family, former hockey star and longtime club supporter Pat LaFontaine, and Greenwich police officers Richard Cochran and Christy Girard.

The course was not for the faint of heart. With the weather already making things muddy, runners then had to run 5K over the camp’s 77 acres on Lake Avenue, which took them through the woods, the legendary Camp Simmons Lake and then all the way to the finish line. But before they crossed the finish, all runners first had to literally crawl through the mud to get there, making for one dirty group of people when all was said and done.

Fortunately, members of the Greenwich Fire Department’s Station 8 were on hand to clean people off as only they could. Muddy runners were hosed down by the firefighters, making it the second time many of them got soaked. In order to even get to the finish line, runners had to cross the camp’s lake, and there was no convenient bridge to run over. While runners had the option of climbing over on the rope bridge, shimmying across it would take too much time and it was a race, so people instead chose to just dive in and wade across to the other side, where they were helped out by the club’s athletic director, Mike Gerald.

The course was so muddy that Mr. DeAngelo said at the start of the race that even though the club had told participants to bring a change of clothes, they should have told them to bring two. But the more mud, the more fun as far as the Boys & Girls Club was thinking, and as soon as the honorary rocket launch started things off, the runners were off in two separate heats that ended up again in one big mess of muddy people hitting the finish line.

According to club estimates on Tuesday, $29,000 was raised from the event, but even before the first dollar was counted, Mr. DeAngelo, who not only is in charge of the club now but attended Camp Simmons as a kid, said he was happy with the results. Caked in mud and eager to clean off after completing the race, Mr. DeAngelo told The Post that he couldn’t wait to do this again next year.

“This was so much fun, I totally enjoyed it,” Mr. DeAngelo said. “I came to Camp Simmons as a kid and I loved being able to run around and act like a kid again and get muddy with everyone else.”

The event was 10 years in the making before the club could actually do one and everyone seemed to be in high spirits after it was complete.

The goal of the event was to raise $20,000 toward new fitness and nutrition programs at the Boys & Girls Club and they were easily able to exceed that. All the efforts were volunteer, so all the proceeds could benefit the club. Several local businesses, including Threads & Treads, St. Moritz Pastry, Upper Crust Bagel, and Gofer Ice Cream, donated food and equipment for the event.

“We try really hard here to push kids out of their box of comfort because that builds self-confidence and self-esteem, and we have a lot of people being pushed out of their boxes of comfort here today,” Mr. DeAngelo said. “We really appreciate everyone’s work on this.”

 

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