Slideshow | Thousands go wild, get dirty at North Bend's first Warrior Dash

They came as rodeo clowns, spacemen, cavewomen, comic book heroes. They left, to a man and woman, dirty.

Some 24,000 participants arrived in North Bend last weekend for the community’s first Warrior Dash, an extreme adventure run that had participants climbing, racing, leaping and crawling, all in muggy, muddy conditions. At the final stretch, they jumped over burning charcoal, then dived into calf-deep mud. No one left clean, and there were no spotless seats on the bus back to Meadowbrook.

“I still have mud in my ears,” said Xann Olsen of Marysville. The preschool teacher, like all participants, had to get low to navigate the final obstacle: deep, wet, sticky mud below, strands of barbed wire at waist-level above. Following that squelchy stretch, runners cleaned up as best they could, sprayed down by men with fire hoses.

“The water was so cold, it took my breath away,” Olsen said.

Despite all that, she would do it all again.

“I’m going to get a warm shower when I get home,” she said.

Matt Nelson of Lake Stevens left one shoe behind at the bottom of the mud pit. There was no point in going back for it. He navigated to the end “very carefully,” and was among many hikers who availed themselves of complimentary flip-flops. Hundreds of pairs of shoes were piled for clean-up and donation to charity at the end of the course.

By no means all, but many, of the warriors came in costume. Bay-area residents Rich Richardson, Thomas Taylor, Charlene McGrath and Shannon Weidman came as Captain America, a brief-clad The Flash, a female Flash, and G.I. Joe’s Stormshadow. Nearby, friends Adam Jones, Jeff Riggins and Jordan Allen mixed body paint and warrior and space helmets with tutus and fairy wings.

“When you’re with the Warrior Dash, you’ve got to be secure in your manhood,” Jones said.

At the end of the course, friends Camille Koenig and Holly Vanderschalie shared a muddy embrace, both equally spattered.

“We made it,” Koenig said.

“We’re warriors!” Vanderschalie added.

Participants said it took about 45 minutes to navigate North Bend streets, where police had to hand-direct traffic at the main intersection. Enterprising businesses, Boy Scouts and residents set up pay parking lots on the route to Meadowbrook.

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