Barry Paschal is a Columbia County resident who serves as senior director of marketing and communications for Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA - He retired after 30 years in Augusta media, most recently as publisher as The Columbia County News-Times. Follow on Twitter @barrypaschal
Posted March 15, 2013 01:55 pm

Good, clean fun - and just a touch of crazy


If you’re a beginning runner, still working up to your first 5K, it’s unlikely you’re ready to take on more-challenging races.


But if you’re an experienced runner looking for a little more adventure – or perhaps a touch of insanity – there are several area events suitable for squeezing every ounce of crazy out of you.


The granddaddy of these is the Tough Mudder Challenge, and we’ve got one right down the road in Wilkes County.


Tough Mudder Georgia takes place each year at the Aonia Pass Motocross Park. If you’ve driven to Washington, Ga. (and everyone should – it’s a beautiful town) along U.S. Highway 78 from Thomson, you’ve seen the park on your left.


Tough Mudder races are pretty much what they sound like: A tough race through mud. The one at Aonia Pass is 11 miles long and includes at least 20 obstacles – and, of course, lots of mud. (You probably don’t want to wear new shoes.)


This year’s Tough Mudder Georgia is April 6 and 7, and the organizers expect nearly 9,000 people to participate. (You read that number correctly. In contrast, Augusta’s recent half-marathon had 1,489 runners, and 3,400 participated in last year’s ESi Ironman Triathlon in Augusta. Tough Mudder is big.)


Typically, mudder runners sign up in teams. You can register until March 29 at


A month later, closer to home and not quite as hard-core, the 2013 Marine Mud Challenge will be held May 11 at Fort Gordon.


While Tough Mudder is an 11-mile course, the Marine Mud Challenge is 4 miles long, with 20 obstacles and a stream crossing. And mud. It also includes a mini "Children’s Challenge" for ages 5-12. Four-person team signups (men, women and coed) are underway at


If you want to go off-road but aren’t quite ready to slop around in the mud, Hickory Knob State Park in nearby McCormick County, S.C., is host of the Xterra trail runs and races on Saturday, March 23. There’s still time to sign up for everything from a 3.4 mile trail run to a full-blown triathlon at


And if you’re really looking for the first step into the dirt? Also on Saturday, March 23, the Beautiful Feet 5K run/walk will be held at Savannah Rapids Pavilion, running along the Augusta Canal towpath. It’s flat and scenic, perfect for a beginner. Search on  for registration.


If you’re participating in any of these races, especially the Tough Mudder, be sure to let me know.


And if you know of any other upcoming races in the area, or are involved in planning one, send me the information so I can help promote it. Email me at .




Whether it’s dirt or pavement, let’s hit the road!