Across passageways of waist-high mud, through uphill tunnels and over climbing walls, competitors worked together Saturday morning on behalf of Mentor Kids Kentucky (MKK). Race coordinators were pleased with the turnout for the inaugural MKK Rugged Race.
More than 250 participants came out to Diamond Lake Resort to race the 5K course which held 26 challenging obstacles, several of which required teamwork to conquer.
“Registration started slow so we didn’t know how it would turn out,” Berly Tillman, Executive Director of MKK said. “It ended up being amazing and we feel so blessed.”
Several entrants came from Evansville, Ind., to compete in the endurance race, with 17 competitors working together for the finish. Other groups included the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, the Owensboro Fire Department and several family teams.
Throughout the day several inspirational stories emerged as individuals and teams crossed the finish line. Among those, is Zach Kemplin, 41-year-old member of Team Z, who completed the race by being pushed and carried in his jogging stroller. Wendell Foster caseworker Jennifer Fitch said Kemplin has had this type of race on his radar for quite some time.
“He was interested in a Tough Mudder type event several months ago that fell through,” Fitch said. “When we found this, we knew it would be perfect.”
Eight team members from Wendell Foster participated in the rugged race. Members of the team took turns pushing Kemplin who was all smiles the entire time. At one water passing, several team members worked together to lift the stroller and carry Kemplin across the lake. Four competitors helped lift him out of his stroller at one obstacle and lower him into the mud pit.
“He was laughing and had a big grin on his face,” Fitch said. “That was the highlight of the race for me.”
Another special finish came from 54-year-old competitor Carla Lortie who crossed the finish line with her daughter and son-in-law.
Halfway through the race, she urged her son-in-law Josh Strasburger to go on without her. After finishing, he went back and waited for his family at the final obstacle.
“I’m proud of her,” Strasburger said. “She’s started exercising, losing weight and getting into shape. Once she sets her mind to something, she is going to do it.”
The family teams that crossed the finish line also carried special moments. One young boy completed the race with his father at just 10 years old. Tillman leaned down to him, explained the mission of MKK and told the young boy that his race fees would be going to help kids his age who needed positive role models in their lives.
“He smiled so big when I told him that,” Tillman said. “We love to see the community supporting each other.”
Positive feedback poured in from local competitors and according to Tillman, many were blown away that this was their first year for the event. The MKK Rugged Race is set to return to Diamond Lakes on August 8, 2020.