As it turns out, there is a healthy way to make bacon a part of your fitness regimen.
You won’t get to eat it. But you will have to chase it.
Graham CrossFit is putting a new twist on an increasingly popular fad next weekend when it stages the Squealing Valley Mud Run in Orting.
Obstacle-course races are popping up all over the country and runners are flocking to hurdle logs, scale walls and crawl through the mud, but Squealing Valley is likely the only one requiring racers to chase a pig just to get to the starting line.
That will be the case Saturday when the race is staged in waves consisting of four teams of four.
In order to start the race, the teams must catch a sprinting pig that will be suited up with a Velcro flag belt, a la flag football. The teams can’t take on the muddy 3.1-mile course until they retrieve their flag.
This is probably a good time to point out that the organizers know exactly what you are thinking. “Don’t worry,” said Graham CrossFit owner Darrin Shaw. “No pigs will be harmed during the running of this race.”
A team of 16 speedy and agile pigs has been enlisted to make sure they get plenty of rest between races.
Also, Shaw says, competitors are strictly forbidden from so much as touching the pigs. If they do, their team will be penalized with the most dreaded of all CrossFit punishments – burpees.
What’s a burpee? Start in a standing position then quickly drop to a squat and thrust your legs out behind you. Then, do a pushup, bring your feet back in and jump up to a standing position. Repeat this 20-30 times and you’ll start to get a feel for where the name comes from.
The idea of spicing up the run with pigs came from the simple desire to have an original feature in the race, Shaw said. “Plus, it goes with the farm theme.”
The event will be staged at Orting’s Northwest Horse Park, which is owned by Graham CrossFit members Rich and Jessica Carr.
Shaw, a Central Pierce firefighter for the past 17 years, said Graham CrossFit was approached by the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters Burn Foundation to help created a new fundraiser to replace its annual firefighter calendar. (Sorry ladies, but apparently calendar sales have dipped dramatically in recent years.)
Children who have benefited from the burn foundation will be on hand to watch the race, Shaw said.
Shaw originally planned to stage a CrossFit competition but figured an obstacle course race would appeal to more people. “Anybody at any level can do a mud run,” Shaw said.
Staying with its CrossFit roots, the Squealing Valley race is keeping secret the details about the obstacles beyond the pig chase.
CrossFit is a rapid-fire, multidimensional workout that changes daily to keep participants from getting bored. The training program also places an emphasis on using natural events (pull-ups, pushups, rope climbing, Olympic weight lifting, etc.) instead of machines like elliptical trainers and treadmills.
Shaw says Squealing Valley’s obstacles will also be natural and implement mud, downed trees, mud, hay wheels and more mud.
The entry fee is $45 and you aren’t required to bring an entire team to compete. Individuals will be assigned a team on race day.
The race includes a beer garden, barbecued burgers and hot dogs (reportedly from different pigs than those racing), music and a large covered area for post-race festivities in case it rains.
Shaw hopes the event will be a success and become an annual fundraiser for the burn foundation.
Early reviews indicate it will be a messy challenge. Some crew members who helped design the route helped construct courses for big national obstacle course races that have come to the Northwest in recent years.
“They said, ‘Wow,’” Shaw said. “‘This is definitely the hardest course we’ve ever seen.’”
Of course it is. Everything’s better with bacon.
Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via firstname.lastname@example.org and twitter.com/AdventureGuys. Also get more fitness coverage at blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure and thenewstribune.com/fitness.