Inspired by adult runs like the Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Spartan Race, the Delta Down and Dirty will allow kids the opportunity to run an obstacle and challenge course located at Statesman Park during Pig Pickin'.
The 1-mile course allows youth, ages 6-16 years old, to run through challenging mud pits, tackle grueling obstacles, and balance over watery mud pits.
Ages 6-8 will run 1 lap, ages 9-11 will run 2 laps, and ages 12 and up will run 3 laps. Registration is $25.
Youth will receive a finisher T-shirt, a headband, and a finisher medal.
When asked how this idea came to be, Todd Davis, HPER professor, director of outdoor recreation, and director of Okra Camp at Delta State University said,
"I came up with the idea because my wife and I and a few other people do these Tough Mudders, Spartan Races, and Warrior Dashes. I became interested in how they worked and did some research and found out, for adults, these mud runs have become an epidemic.
"They are one of the most popular events and activities on the planet. Tough Mudder has 100 and some worldwide events and they raise ton of money for The Wounded Warrior. I've been involved in triathlons for a long time and Tough Mudder was a lot more fun. It's all about camaraderie and team spirit."
Davis said after he had completed one of these races and returned to Delta State he began to look into what runs were offered for kids.
"I've taught physical education for a number of years and kids love to climb things and they love to get dirty. You add those elements together and you come up with this mud run for kids. When we came back after doing one of these races and thought it would be really cool for kids to do because there's not winner. They get to feel that emotion of finishing something," said Davis.
"I researched how many other places do this. Tough Mudder and Spartan Race has something but it's very small. I've not found an actual event structured and marketed just for kids, so we sat down one day and had a friend who taught PE at Bayou Academy and I came up with Delta Down and Dirty.
"We proposed it as a fundraisers for the outdoor recreation program and for Okra Camp to offset costs and raise money for scholarships. We had no idea the impact it would have on the kids in the area nor did we have any idea about 400 kids would sign up for the event," he said.
Davis designs and makes the course and determines what obstacles will be included.
"I make the course and design it. I have a grad assistant and he and I both engineer the different structures. Boyle lumber agreed to give us all of the lumber and materials we needed to build it. We designed new elements and obstacles over the summer," he said.
"A lot of the obstacles are similar to what adults would run but are scaled down for kids. We have created a monkey bar system but it's over mud, with two sides, one short side and one high side so it's challenging for both age groups.
"Most everything else, like tunnels, facilities and maintenance at Delta State will help us dig," he said.
Everything is built with 2x6 heavy lumber and engineered to withstand heavy pressure.
"We looked at different fundamentals that are online for runs adults do and we downgraded sizes and did more mechanical and engineering specs so kids could be on it safely," Davis added.
Registration is now open and will be open until race day.
Davis encourages runners to preregister so they get a T-shirt.
"Right now we have over 100 registered but we just sent home the post cards in all of the schools' mail. We offer online registration this year and we are really hoping parents preregister because that alleviates a lot of the pressure of signing up when you get there," said Davis.
Davis said it's important to offer these races to the youth in the area because it is different and encourages teamwork and competition against oneself.
"These Tough Mudders are very different. We don't have a lot kids races in town and they are very small. The whole premise of this is to not to award places but just award a finisher medal. There isn't the whole competition issue, it's a competitive nature against yourself.
"We miss out of that a lot of time for a lot of parents and kids in Mississippi because there's a lot of pressure to be a good athlete and to make the team. The Down and Dirty helps to be a bit more about the fun and engagement of going out there with your friends. There will be obstacles you'll need your friends to help you through," he said.
"It's important to have exposure and have these others facets of racing so they have another avenue to look at. They might feel that feeling of finishing and accomplishing and build that self esteem.
"Even though it's a mud run and you get muddy and climb things, we provide opportunity for kids to have fun and be active in fitness," he added.
Davis said the course is safe for all age groups and there will be volunteers throughout to help runners if necessary.
"The course will be locked off and we won't allow parents on. However, there will be over 100 volunteers. The Junior Auxiliary will be on hand, lots of students at DSU will be helping, and of course faculty and staff will come out and help. It's a great event because it's an active event.
"All of these obstacles we term 'challenge by choice.' If a 6 year old gets to an obstacle and is overwhelmed by that obstacle, if they don't want to do it they just have to walk around it," he said.
"There will be volunteers at all obstacles to ensure they get over safely. We have an athlete meeting first thing where all of the kids will meet up and talk about the course. It's a mandatory meeting at 9:45 a.m. where we will go over these elements and aspects of the course," he said.
Davis added they are still looking for volunteers for the event.
"This is a collaborative effort between the HPER division and the dean's office and College of Education & Human Sciences. Dr. Leslie Griffin is instrumental in helping and assisting in getting this event done. It’s a teamwork thing and it's helping out recreation, but not just recreation it's helping Delta State.
"We are hoping this brings another aspect to Pig Pickin', provides a youth element, and encourages parents and families to tailgate out on the course or at the finish line. Seeing these kids mature and grow, cheering and support is a really important aspect of this event," said Davis.
For more information about the event visit www.facebook.com/deltadirty or www.deltastate.edu/downanddirty.