PITTSTON — If you’re still debating whether you can complete the obstacles in the inaugural R3 OPS mud run at the Northeast Fairgrounds in Pittston tomorrow, Nicole Farber says, you’ve already answered the question.
“Yes, you can do it,” Farber said. “If you’re at that moment and you’re questioning it, then the thought should be to go for it.”
Farber, 34, of Dallas, is the CEO and race director of the first-ever mud run with options. The name R3 OPS is derived from the three difficulty options each obstacle will present – refined, rugged and rogue. Obstacles will be clearly marked throughout the race, and there’s always an option to go around one that’s a bit too difficult.
Presenting obstacles with a variety of difficulty levels opens the field to a broader range of athletes.
“We’re trying to pull in all different athletic abilities,” Farber said. “Refined would be for someone who’s maybe never done a mud run before or they just want to do something different to challenge themselves. The rugged is for the more average individual, maybe for people who’ve done the Warrior Dash or the Dirty Girl Run. The rogues are kind of extreme athletes.”
By the end of last week, the event had more than 500 registered participants. Organizers are keeping registration open until tomorrow, but race memorabilia is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The race kicks off at 8 a.m. with an Extreme Rogue Wave and cash prizes of $1,000 each available to top male and female finishers in the elite competition.
Extreme Rogue competitors must complete the course in one hour, finish all rogue obstacles and compete in an additional “Extreme Challenge” that will pit participants against a series of six military-style obstacles including the popular jumping bars from “American Ninja Warrior,” a 20-foot rope climb and a 12-foot climbing wall.
So far, Farber said the field of extreme athletes vying for the cash prize is small. She’s especially encouraging “the extreme girls” to throw their hats in the ring.
Farber, who was inspired to start her own mud run after competing in the Dirty Girl mud run, said she expects she would complete many of the rugged obstacles if she weren’t ensuring a smooth event on Saturday.
“There are some that I can do rogue, but I would have to say I’m a ‘rugged,’ ” Farber said with a laugh.
The ability to choose your own path is one she hopes will attract locals to the event.
“In a lot of these other races, you have to complete each obstacle,” Farber said. “This lets you do whatever you want. It’s always better when somebody presents choices.”
Unlike traveling races like Dirty Girl or the Warrior Dash that make a brief impact during their stops in Northeastern Pennsylvania, this event, Farber hopes, will use the talents of local businesses to benefit local individuals and organizations.
Money raised from the $5 spectator fee will benefit the Stephanie Jallen Paralympic Fund, which will help the Harding athlete reach the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where she is expected to compete in alpine-skiing events. The $5 parking fee will be donated to the Pittston Township Volunteer Fire Company.
Various aspects of the run are inspired by Farber’s own personality. A Native American theme woven into aspects of the event call on her roots in the Delaware tribe. The music-lover named several obstacles after popular song titles, including “Ho Hey,” a hay-bale maze named for The Lumineers’ single, and “Walk the Line,” three levels of balance beams that share the same name as the Johnny Cash hit.
The course is expected to last about 90 minutes depending on your running speed and the level of obstacle difficulty you choose. Heats will begin each half hour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and several heats already have sold out.
Farber said several other areas across the country have reached out to her organization, ENX2 LLC, to bring the mud run with options to other states. Her plan is to bring the run back to NEPA on an annual basis.
“We’ll definitely be back next summer,” she said.