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Seven Springs to hold marathon, half-marathon Nov. 1

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Sunday, May 18, 2014, 9:30 p.m.

The organizers of the Mud on the Mountain obstacle course/mud racing series at Seven Springs in the Laurel Highlands are offering a new challenge for runners this fall.

Rather than hold a third obstacle race to go with the recently completed spring race and the August nighttime race, Seven Springs will host a marathon and half-marathon Nov. 1. Runners won't have to climb over walls, swing across monkey bars or crawl through mud and under barbed wire, but they will have to contend with the altitude and the mountain terrain.

“It's going to be very challenging, but we're excited for a new opportunity and a new event,” Seven Springs communications coordinator Anna Weltz said.

Seven Springs introduced Mud on the Mountain in May 2012 and drew a little more than 2,000 competitors. They added a November race that year, which was made even more challenging by Hurricane Sandy's delivery of more than a foot of snow just prior to race weekend.

In 2013, they kept the May and November races and added a third race in August called Mud on the Mountain in the Dark. Racers are handed headlamps and leave in waves beginning at 9 p.m.

On May 10, 2,889 athletes competed in the third annual spring race, taking on 27 obstacles spread over almost 8 miles. The second annual Mud on the Mountain in the Dark will be held Aug. 16.

Organizers expect to draw some of the same competitors from the mud runs for the marathon and half-marathon in addition to runners who like the idea of a long mountain race but not necessarily the obstacles.

About 95 percent of the course will be on trails, designer Jim Gibbons said. The starting line will be at the Foggy Goggle, and runners immediately will face an uphill climb to take them to the top of the mountain. The inclines on this course won't be as steep as what racers familiar with the mud course have come to expect, however.

“With all the experience we have the past couple years laying out the Mud on the Mountain course, it was relatively easy for us to come up with a course that would not necessarily have the dramatic incline but is more of a runable course at a longer distance,” Gibbons said.

After running most of the first 4 miles along the top of the mountain and through the woods, racers will head toward the old airport. Miles 6 through 8 will feature what Gibbons called some very aggressive downhill running, and from Miles 10 to 12, runners can expect a lot of ups and downs. The course returns to the top of the mountain before a fast finish down to the Foggy Goggle, where half-marathoners can enjoy a post-race beverage while the full marathoners go back for another loop.

Gibbons said runners will ascend about 1,500 feet throughout the course, with the steepest grade measuring about 8 percent. That's a short climb, however, and Gibbons said most of the hills will feature a grade of 4 or 5 percent.

“I think this race will be a class unto itself,” Weltz said. “You don't really see anything else like this in this area.”

Registration is available at for $70 for the full marathon and $50 for the half-marathon until July 14, when prices go up.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.




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