Dirty Girls & Boys: Whatcom County’s Most Fun Mud Run


I had to write a catchy headline to get folks onto my blog. After all, sex does sell.

This past weekend the local chapter of Muds to Suds held their 3rd annual Muds to Suds Race at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Almost 2000 people participated in the fund-raiser. This year, the recipient was the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. It was an assignment for The Bellingham Herald.

Slated as “Whatcom County’s Most Fun Mud Run,” just observing and documenting it made me chuckle. It was an awesome event to cover.

Splish Splash!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Hannah Scarth of Arlington, Wash., dives head first into the Holee Kow mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Hannah Scarth of Arlington, Wash., dives head first into the Holee Kow mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

For large events like this, I like to do some research. I focus on the course and what other elements are planned. There was to be a food court area, a kids mud pit, and a bouncy castle.

Naptime:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Ty Warner, 9, of Ferndale, Wash., lies in foam at the Suds Box obstacle during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Ty Warner, 9, of Ferndale, Wash., lies in foam at the Suds Box obstacle.

One of the things I paid particular attention to was the course map. I needed to find know where the good obstacles were so I can capture the best images. Certain ones were boring, others hinted of great photo opportunities.

Many of the racers were there for fun. Dressed in some form of costume or outfit. There was multiple Wonder Women, The Flash, a drove of pigs, men and women in tutus, and even one dressed as the Heinz Ketchup bottle.

Wonder Women:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Racers climb out of the Holee Kow mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A team of Wonder Women climb out of the Holee Kow mud pit.

And as per my modus operandi, I follow the old axiom: Arrive Early, Stay late. This gives me time to survey the scene, find out who’s in charge so I can ask questions, and a time to decompress a little so I can put my game face on.

Crown of Foam:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nympha Evans (cq) of Oak Harbor, Wash., plunges into the Mud Pit Swim & Slide during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nympha Evans of Oak Harbor, Wash., plunges into the Swim & Slide.

I talked with asst. race coordinator Sara Buchanan about the course, how many participants, who is the recipient of the raised funds, average time to complete the course, and any other questions that arose.

Superwomen:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Lexi Warnke, left, and her mother Jessica Warnke of Mt. Vernon, slide through the Suds Box during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Lexi Warnke, left, and her mother Jessica Warnke of Mt. Vernon, slide through the Suds Box at the end of the course.

As the racers were started every 20 minutes, I had a chance to get different starts. But those tended to be boring so I walked the course backwards. This allowed me time to find an obstacle that would get me good visuals. Plus, with starts every 20 minutes, I didn’t have to wait long to photograph a group of competitors splashing in the mud.

FLASH!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - The Flash runs the obstacle course during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – The Flash runs the obstacle course. His time was too fast to record.

It took photographing one group of people for me to realized the toughest part of this job will be to get names. As I shot the participants, they would run past me on their way towards the finish line.

Big Splash:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - A competitor plunges into the deep foam of the  Mud Pit Slip & Slide during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A competitor plunges into the deep foam of the Slip & Slide. This is one instance where I didn’t get a name due to the number of people I was photographing. However, it’s still a pretty good image for an online gallery.

As these were for publication, I needed to get names. You can publish photos of people without using their names, papers do it all the time. However, I believe it’s not only ethical, but just plain polite to get names. After all, if you saw your photo in the newspaper and your name was missing, wouldn’t you be a little upset?

So I’d photograph a few people then chase them down, write a quick description of what they were wearing, and then their name. For multiple people, I’d line them up in the order I wrote the names.

Anticipation:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - A competitor dives into a mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A competitor dives into the Slime Time mud pit. Another instance where there were som many people it was difficult getting names. I heard him whooping and hollering as he was running up before the dive in.

That’s the beauty of digital: you can shoot a quick photo of them to make sure you can correlate the name with the correct people. No ambiguity.

Not only that, you can quickly preview what you shot to see if you even want to use the photo. It sorta goes against what I believe in not editing in camera nor during a shoot. But in circumstances such as this, it’s almost a necessity.

Leader of the Pack:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Ty Warner, 9, of Ferndale, Wash., leads his team , USTA Martial Arts, out of the Holee Kow (cq) mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Ty Warner, 9, leads his team , USTA Martial Arts, through the Holee Kow mud pit.

Unfortunately, upon editing the photos, there’s always a few that you missed. Those can be reserved for the online use in slide shows with creative captions.

With so much going on, it’s best to focus on only one aspect. Concentrate on just one obstacle. Another reason it’s important to arrive early to an event. Get your bearings and make a plan. If you go in blind, you will shoot haphazardly and will end up missing some great shots.

End of the Line:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Tonia Altinger, left, and Caelyn Pfarc, both from Camono Island, celebrate completing the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Tonia Altinger, left, and Caelyn Pfarc, both from Camano Island, celebrate completing the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race.

What are some of you tricks or techniques you do to make shooting an event easy? Do you pre plan? Or wing it when the time arrives?

Resolution of Endurance:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Images from the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A competitor celebrates with oy at the end of the line in the Foam Box.

For more Muds to Suds photos, visit my gallery 3rd annual Muds to Suds

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Wash., in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for short-term and long-term assignments.

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