Harbor House ends popular 5K Mud Run
By Scott Bellile
“Warrior Princesses” set on putting an end to domestic abuse sloshed through the mud for one last run at Mosquito Hill Nature Center Saturday, Aug. 19.
The Appleton-based Harbor House’s sixth annual Warrior Princess Mud Run drew about 1,000 participants in what one organizer said was a solid outing for the noncompetitive, co-ed 5K run/walk.
“Everything was fantastic,” said Sarah-Beth Janssen, marketing and promotions chairwoman for the run. “We had an amazing turnout, beautiful weather. Our volunteers were fantastic once again, encouraging people to get dirty, get muddy.”
Janssen said every fundraiser has its lifespan, including the Warrior Princess Mud Run. It was established in 2012.
To keep Harbor House donors energized toward the cause, she said a new fundraiser, which remains under wraps, is in the works for next year.
“We’re really just on the lookout for some new opportunities,” Janssen said.
The Harbor House provides shelter to women and children who seek refuge from abusive households. It also educates the public on abuse prevention and provides advocacy programs.
Big undertaking worth it
Janssen said the Harbor House has had thousands of volunteers over the years to help with organizing the event including set-up, teardown, staffing on race day and yearlong planning.
“It is a ton of work over the years,” she said, later adding, “We truly start planning about a month after one ends for the next year.”
The Harbor House and the nature center appreciated each other’s backing in the event, Janssen and Mosquito Hill Nature Center Director Mike Hibbard said.
He said next year nature center staff and volunteers will miss everything about the mud run but set-up and teardown. Each process takes one week alone.
Mosquito Hill Nature Center benefits from the run by increasing awareness of its facility to the greater area. Hibbard said that each year 1,200 to 1,500 people showed up on race day including spectators.
Volunteer Coordinator Pat Lund Moe said the center loves the influx of visitors. She hopes participants in the Warrior Princess Mud Run enjoyed exploring the trails enough that they will return for a hike sometime.
A key fundraiser
The bar will be high for a new fundraiser that will excite Harbor House supporters like the Warrior Princess Mud Run did.
The run is the nonprofit’s biggest annual fundraising event. It has netted around $500,000 to date, including $128,700 in 2016.
Janssen noted that 100 percent of proceeds from the Warrior Princess Mud Run go to the Harbor House.
With the event’s registration fee ranging from $65 to $95 per participant, Janssen said that amounted to a large donation from every attendee looking to stop domestic abuse.
Abuse problematic in Fox Valley
Domestic abuse remains a widespread problem throughout the Fox Valley region.
According to the Harbor House’s 2016 annual report, last year:
• 595 people stayed in the Harbor House’s safe shelter, up nearly 100 from 2015.
• 38 percent of the year the safe shelter exceeded its 55-bed capacity.
• 896 women participated in Harbor House programming.
• 396 children were served by programming.
• The Harbor House answered 13,166 crisis calls, or 36 per day.
Taking on crisis
Although the Harbor House is devoted to tackling a dark subject matter, mud runners tackled their own obstacles with enthusiasm Saturday.
Teams danced to pop hits at the starting line as they waited to take off. Laughter rang through the woods as participants plunged into piles of mud.
The nineteen obstacles along the way included a slip-and-slide, hopping platforms, a ropewalk and muddy crawling areas.
These obstacles beared fairytale-themed names like “Little Red’s Hop through the Hood,” “Bibbidy-Bobbidy-Beam” and “Little Mermud.”
“The unique obstacle names were really cool,” said Kelly Shevy of Oshkosh, whose favorite was a pair of crawling tunnels named “Princess Fiona’s Fallopian Tubes.”
Shevy attended with her friend, Pamela Johnson of Wausau. Johnson said the environment was full of cheering and encouragement, and overall it was a fun time.
“It was great,” Johnson said. “There was lots of mud.”
Shevy added, “It’s like being a kid, getting dirty and doing obstacles, but you get to do it as an adult.”