Big Muddy, big fun

The family that crawls through mud together ... Dave Case and son Owen at last year's Big Muddy Challenge.

In today’s North Carolina Observers (Charlotte and Raleigh) I have a story about the Big Muddy Challenge, an obstacle race for families started last year by Adam Spisak of Raleigh. Spisak started the race after looking around for an obstacle race he could someday do with his newborn daughter — and finding there were none. You can read that story here.

As is the case with most stories that need to fit in a finite space, there’s always a good story that gets left out. In this case, it’s the story of Dave Case, who did last year’s inaugural Big Muddy in Youngsville with his oldest son, Owen, who was 7 at the time. Case was an unlikely Big Muddy candidate in two regards.

The first requires taking us back to the Dave Case of two years ago. At that time, his story was a familiar one: active in high school and college, Case got married, started a business, had kids. Two years ago, at the age of 37, he realized he was woefully out of shape and overweight. (This despite owning a landscaping business that once kept Case in shape, but as it grew he found himself spending less time in the field, more time in the office and behind the wheel quoting and following up on jobs.)

So Case enrolled in boot camp, Chris Isotolp’s Isotolp Fitness in Apex. “I went three times a week, I followed their nutrition plan,” says Case. “And I lost a lot of weight.” Fifty-five pounds, according to the scale.

One day Isotolp told Case about about obstacle racing. “‘You should try it,’ he told me,” Case says.

Case did, and he became hooked. Last year, he participated in four Spartan races, one of the more prominent international obstacle races. That earned him Spartan’s coveted “Trifecta” designation. This year, he’s shooting for the “Double Trifecta,” by participating in six races, which will require him to travel as far as Southern California.

“I can get competitive,” he acknowledges.

Which brings us to the second curious thing about Case and the Big Muddy. Big Muddy deemphasizes the competitive aspect of racing; according to Spisak it’s more about families working and playing together. Which is fine with Trifecta Dave.

“My son saw my races and wanted to do the same things I was doing,” says Case. “With the Big Muddy, the difficulty level was just right for kids. It was neat helping him through some of the things and to see his sense of accomplishment when we were done.

“My competitiveness,” he adds, “that was all out the window. It was kind of a refreshing feeling, actually.”

So refreshing, that Case will be back at this Saturday’s Big Muddy Challenge, this time competing with Owen as well as son Andrew, who is six, and his wife, Rebecca.

For more information and to register for Saturday’s Big Muddy Challenge in Youngsville, for the June 28 race in Charlotte, or any of the other five races scheduled for this year, go here.

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Update: Today’s story said more than 900 had registered for Saturday’s race; this morning, Spisak reports that number has topped 1,200.

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