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At SteelStacks outdoors festival, mud and guts take the day

A horde of parents and children let out a resounding cheer as they gathered under the arch Sunday morning at Levitt Pavilion on the SteelStacks campus. At the announcer’s cue, everyone took off full speed down the street toward the PNC Plaza parking lot. The challenge when they got there was rough on 10-year-old Alex Jones.“We had to do push-ups and burpees. Ten of them!” said the Northampton boy, looking a little worn, his clothes and skin speckled with mud.That was just the start of the Your First Mud Run, a family-friendly obstacle course that had more than 400 participants during the fifth annual Step Outdoors Festival in south Bethlehem.A wave of runners takes off in the family-friendly Your First Mud Run during the fifth annual Step Outdoors Festival at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. (Rich Hundley / Special to The Morning Call/)After the brief warm-up, the runners transitioned to the jump rope station. Participants also had to carry a tire, climb a rope and scale an inflatable wall. Slick hands scrabbled for holds and left streaks of dirt all over the wall.The parking lot’s final obstacle was the mud pit, where participants crawled on their bellies through a sheet of slimy dirt. Some were more enthusiastic than others and ended up almost entirely brown.Rylie Eisenhard, 10, was nearly unrecognizable under all the dirt after she embraced the mud part of the event. “I like it when the dirt gets in your mouth, and you crunch it in your teeth. It doesn’t taste very good, but it feels satisfying,” she said with a grin.Rylie was accompanied by her older sister, Raelyn, who was spending her 13th birthday at the festival. Raelyn was looking forward to being with family and friends but was not as thrilled about getting dirty.Traci Eisenhard ran alongside her daughters.“I wanted to prove to my kids that I could do it, because we already know their dad can,” she said.It went beyond the girls, mom and dad Jerry, though. The Pottstown family was joined by 11 relatives, who were visiting from Nashville, in a family challenge to see if they could all finish.That meant, after completing the parking lot portion of the run, they headed back to the grassy area and hopped on and off jumping blocks. The next obstacles were a wall jump, a cargo net ladder, a pile of inner tubes, small tunnels and a wooden ramp with ropes.For Jordan Ritter, a 9-year-old from Sellersville whose torso was slathered in dirt, the cargo net ladder was the best obstacle. He also loved crawling through the mud.Ava Shappell, 5, of Hellertown climbs up and rings the bell in her first mud run Sunday during the fifth annual Step Outdoors Festival at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. (Rich Hundley / Special to The Morning Call/)Many other children echoed Jordan’s love for the mess, like 5-year-old Ava Shappell of Hellertown, who said she was more than ready to get dirty.Participants had to complete two rounds, and all finishers received a shirt and a medal. While some people took advantage of on-site facilities to rinse off all the mud, others chose to stay dirty as they continued wandering the festival.Jenny Beadlle unsuccessfully tries to coax Whiskey into the water on Sunday during the DockDogs competition. (Rich Hundley / Special to The Morning Call/)Many didn’t go far, sticking around to watch the second day of the DockDogs competition underway nearby, where dogs leaped into a 40-foot pool. Thanks in part to beautiful weather, the free festival designed to get people outside to explore nature attracted around 2,500 people over the weekend, an ArtsQuest spokesman said.In addition to the mud run and DockDogs event, there were also presentations from more than 25 local and state groups, and activities including archery, biking, gardening, nature/art activities, hiking, photography, birdhouse building, and laser sporting clay shooting.Sarah Ye is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.
Source: Morningcall

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