Good, (not so) clean, family fun

VP Challenge brings out families, children for muddy fun

Ryan Cooke
Published on July 19, 2014

TRURO – While a family bonded over a picnic on a clean, crisp blanket in the nearby park, the Hennessey family – all three generations – got on their hands and knees and mucked it through the mud for the fifth annual VP Challenge.

Saturday morning saw the Hennessey adults out in full force, with Mike and his wife, Allison, running alongside Mike’s brother, Steve, and their mother, Barb. After the crew wrapped up the 5k and 7.5k courses – complete with a hilly terrain, wall-climbs, tires and an army crawl through a ball field of mud – the Hennessey’s got hosed off and waited for their kids to approach the start line.

“We enjoy doing all these local events,” said Mike. “We live near the park here, so it’s like having a gem in your backyard.”

An avid runner, Mike made the jump to obstacle racing last year by trying his hand at Mud Hero.

“It didn’t go so well,” he laughed. “Once was enough, so I think I’ll just stick with running. I’m not a big mud guy.”

Proving that a disdain for mud is not hereditary, the Hennessey’s youngest, Ryan, came thrashing through the course a short while later.

Running in the 9-11 age group, Ryan was up against his sister, Ava. The siblings didn’t wait around for each other, however, as they scrambled through the running section and hit the obstacles. They crawled through tunnels, ducked under ladders and climbed over hay bales before reaching the mud.

A pair of Truro firefighters doused the infield with water as the kids scurried through the mud under a low-lying mesh canopy. Some opted to go on all fours and dig into the muck, while others attempted to stay on two feet and duck under.

The mud laid claim to several sneakers, and even trapped one boy who sunk up to his shins in the swampy ground.

As one of the “all-fours” mud crawlers, Ryan emerged from the mud pit his first go-round drenched head-to-toe before discarding his shirt at some point on the course.

“It felt like snot,” the nine-year-old said with an honest grin and a laugh. “I love the mud part of the course, it’s the best part by far.”

After his father asked if he was going to get hosed off before leaving, the youngest Hennessey opted instead to take one more belly flop into the mud pit.

For Ava, the mud was fun, but going through it with friends was even better.

“This was the best year yet,” she said. “A lot of my friends were here this year, and the mud was better than last year, too.”

The annual race drew in more than 200 competitors, with 96 children running. It comes on the heels of the Spartan Race last weekend at Wentworth – a more extreme version of the same idea. Having a local event accessible and fun for the whole community is good for the town, Mike said.

It’s certainly good for the family, anyway. When asked if they’d be back again next year, both Hennessey kids were quick with their identical responses.

“I’ll definitely be back.”