By Kellen M. Quigley

After a run around the hills and through various obstacles, participants finish the Holiday Valley Mudslide with just that: a slide into a mud pit next to Yodeler Lodge.

On Saturday, the resort’s annual Mudslide returned to the slopes of Holiday Valley, bringing a thousand competitors of all ages, abilities and costumes to the race and fundraiser.

“Preparations went well this year,” said Kristen Sciara, Marketing Manager at Holiday Valley. “The Mountain Crew has been working for about a month or so getting everything set up and ready, and now we have a beautiful day.”

Racers begin at the top at Spruce Lake and choose from two distances — a 3.5 mile or a 5.4 mile course — each boasting numerous obstacles. Both courses end at the giant mudslide down the bottom of the Yodeler slope, and competitors slip and slide their way down the mountain into a giant mud puddle.

“We made some fun adjustments to the obstacles to keep things fresh,” Sciara said. “We like to use the natural terrain that’s already here and then use natural materials to build on that.”

One of those new obstacles was located on the top of Tannenbaum and features a series of two giant rollers. Another new obstacle was a balance beam in the ‘big ditch’ area between Tannenbaum and Morning Star, and the third was a wall rope climb on Foxfire for the long course.

“The Mountain Crew is great at using some of the winter equipment we have an incorporating that into the race,” Sciara added.

Back for his third run, Jim Hurd and his family are among those returning to the Mudslide this year. Hurd made the trip down to Ellicottville from Buffalo, but some of his family came from Virginia for a summer vacation.

“It’s an annual thing,” he said. “We go down to Allegheny, spend a couple days up here and usually go motorcycling riding.”

Grier Frazer from Warren, Pa., participated in the Mudslide for the first time this year. Running with a friend, Frazer said she’s trying to get out and do more activities.

“We’re hoping to have fun, obviously, but I’m hoping to push myself while doing something different,” she said.

“The great thing about this race is it gives people a chance to get outside, have fun, play in the mud and get together with friends,” Sciara said. “And it’s a mud run that’s fun. It’s not too extreme, it’s family friendly and, here at Holiday Valley, it’s such a beautiful place.”

A portion of the event’s proceeds benefit Jim Kelly’s Hunter’s Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to giving hope through education and awareness, research and family care for Krabbe, Leukodystrophies and Newborn Screening.

“We always want people to come out and participate because it’s so fun,” Sciara explained, “but because a portion of the proceeds go to Hunter’s Hope, that’s an extra bonus.”

The Kids’ MiniMudslide is a half-mile long course including several obstacles and the mudslide for kids aged 3 to 12, with start and finish lines at the Training Center.

“We made some additions to the kids’ race,” Sciara explained. “It gives kids the chance to experience the mud and obstacle run at a younger age, and it’s fun for the parents, too.”

With two little ones of her own, Jamie Faulk, from Bemus Point, ran the Mudslide for the first time this year after being an observer when her family participated the past few years.

“We bring our nieces and nephews and kind of the whole tribe out,” she said. “We thought we’d give it a try because everyone always seems to have so much fun.”

Also participating for the first time is Ethan Brooks, running with Claire Benham, who’s participating in her third Mudslide.

“I don’t really like running, but this makes me want to get out and go running,” said Benham, who, along with Brooks, came from Cuba. “I love all the obstacles that they have. It’s just a fun thing to do with friends.”

But the day doesn’t end with the end of the race. An afterparty was planned for Saturday night, Sciara explained, and participants can take part in the other things Holiday Valley has to offer.

“It always makes for a fun weekend, and it’s always Father’s Day weekend, so we have plenty of dads who bring their family together,” she added.

Next year’s Holiday Valley Mudslide is scheduled for June 15, 2019.