KNIGHTDALE — They splashed. They sloshed. And when it was over, they smelled.
In a spectacle of filth that might leave a soap salesman drooling, some 800 racers battled an obstacle course Saturday that required them to swim across muddy pits, slide down muddy embankments and crawl, belly first, through a muddy trench.
Did we mention there was mud?
The dirty demonstration was part of MuckRuckus, a fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society expected to raise nearly $200,000 for research, programs and advocacy.
With nicknames like Mucky Mamas and This Muds For You, teams came from across North Carolina to compete and after cleaning up a bit celebrate with supporters at an all-day, tailgate-style party. The event is an example of how charitable groups are trying to appeal to donors, particularly young people, who seek more excitement than a silent auction or hotel ballroom dinner.
People dont want to just write checks anymore, said Tiffany Matchett, a MuckRuckus competitor from Charlotte. Youve got to get creative.
The five-mile course involved gravel roads, wooded paths and a small lake in a rural area of Knightdale. Along the way, teams encountered elaborate obstacles such as a contraption with ropes and slow-moving propellers that left participants dangling above a muddy pit.
The race challenges you to do things that you wouldnt ordinarily do, said Leslie Dezern of Fuquay-Varina.
You dont know whats ahead of you, chimed in Cindy Ray, a teammate from Cary.
Nifty special effects added to the drama. Plumes of water sprayed from the starting gate as the loudspeakers blared Welcome to the Jungle, a rock anthem by Guns N Roses.
How dirty did the course leave participants? Put it this way: Runners stood in line afterward to get sprayed down with fire hoses operated by the Knightdale Fire Department.
Attracting the event was a coup for Knightdale, which has been working to boost its profile as a recreation hot spot. The town has more than doubled to 11,000 residents in the past decade, thanks in part to the opening of U.S. 264 from Raleigh.
Mayor Russell Killen stopped by with his 11-year-old daughter, Rachel, to greet friends and visitors.
People have an image of Knightdale from the past that doesnt hold true now, he said. It has the small-town charm, but now the big-town amenities. Until you come out, you really dont realize it.
The race experience may have meant the most to people living with MS, a chronic disease for which there is no cure. Exercise is one of the best responses, said Debbie Hamm of Apex, who was diagnosed four years ago.
The more active you are, the better you feel. MS can take so much out of you.
On days like Saturday, she said, you feel like youre fighting back.