Anybody who has run around Camp Ockanickon’s trail system in the past couple of weeks must be wondering why some of our single track trails have started to look a little bigger and a little cleaner. If you are not a runner or walker you might not be interested in this story, but if you like having fun, playing with friends, meeting new friends, or just challenging yourself to something different, then this story is going to be of interest for you.
A few months ago, I was approached by Chad Mason, owner of Above & Beyond Fitness in Medford, NJ about the possibility of building a new trail on our property. Chad (whose sister is Dany Mason and our Camp photographer) has been running a local fitness boot camp out of Stockwell Pavilion and is a certified personal trainer and a former US Marine. Every Saturday when I was out running or biking around camp, I would swing by and see Chad with his group of ‘boot campers’ doing lunges with tires, squats on picnic tables, and shuttle runs on Stockwell field. They appeared to have just about everything they needed…except a solid trail to run on.
Slowly, over time, Chad and I began to talk about options for this new trail. The process was as slow as my mile pace, but Chad understood the process would be long to develop but it would be worth the wait.
For those of you who have never heard of the Tough Mudder Race, Spartan Race, or Warrior Dash race here is a little history for you. The 1st Tough Mudder was held on May 2, 2010 at Beer Creek Ski Resort in Pennsylvania. The 13 mile course was founded by Englishmen Will Dean & Guy Livingstone as part of a school assignment at Harvard Business School. The idea is not to finish with the best time (no trophies, just beer and high fives at the finish line) but to finish as part of a team and help everybody around you finish. It’s like being a kid running through the woods pretending to be a cowboy and it was your goal to jump over every fallen tree and run through every puddle you found. Getting dirty and grass stains on your knees was considered a badge of honor around your friends, even if you mom got mad. These races have every obstacle you could think of and plenty that you would never think of. Pictures of the actual race course show hills, water obstacles, cargo nets, and even flaming piles of wood. No wonder why the course typically goes untimed…if I was running this race, I would spend half the race trying to talk myself into most of the obstacles.
After many conversations about possible trails we could use and possible parts of our lakes we could use, we collectively came up with a trail that we could utilize without doing too much damage to our current trails. The mapping process began every day after work for me…the goal was 6.4 miles or 10K. It’s nice when you get to exercise and work at the same time so I looked forward to mapping out the trail. Still, the process was slow, but over time, Chad and his volunteers got the green light to start clearing and opening up our trails. Every Saturday morning, Chad would arrive at camp ready to work. Over the past three weeks, Chad has been breathing new life into some of our trails that had laid dormant for years. Some of the trails I never even knew we had started to open up to run/walk/bike on. It started to get me thinking about the rest of our trails on our property. Could we utilize Chad to help us get all of our trails back up to a useable level? Of course, Chad was all about helping us to get all of our trails back from the overgrowth of the forest.
As our trails start to become usable again, it became more and more clear of how Chad’s event would help Camp Ockanickon and how Camp Ockanickon could help Chad achieve his goal of running his event. Our trails offer the perfect environment for a mud run and our organization has always strived to help get people active. Even better is Chad’s hope of raising money to help support our annual Strong Kids Campaign.
So…we move forward to put together this event over the next couple of weeks for a handful of reasons; get up, get active, have fun, do something fun, be with fun people, help people, and give back.
Chad’s goal is to host the only 10K Mud Run in South Jersey on November 5, 2011 at YMCA Camps of Medford. If you are interested in volunteering or registering for this event, please go to;