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Best Competitions To Get Dirty Near The South Bay

For the past 10 years, mud runs have dramatically increased in popularity, with more and more new events popping up all over the Bay Area. More recently, color runs, where race participants are immersed with colorful powders at designated spots along the course, are adding to the enormous surge of the so-called "dirty runs." Although this new generation of running events is obviously far more festive than most of the traditional running events, dirty runs can also be far more challenging and generally require more strength and endurance. For newcomers to the sport or experienced "mudders" looking for a new event, the following are four of the best competitions to get dirty in the South Bay.
ranch romp

Ranch Romp 5K Mud Run
Pepper Tree Ranch
500 John Smith Road
Hollister, CA 95023
(831) 902-9106

Date: May 4

Last year's first ever Ranch Romp drew a few thousand participants to Hollister and a similar crowd is expected this year. Located at Pepper Tree Ranch, an award-winning winery, the race is a 3.1-mile obstacle course that's capped off with a 30-foot mud pit before crossing the finish line. Among the challenges along the course are climbing bales of hay, running through 50 feet of tires football style, a "tipsy tightrope" and a climbing wall. A live band and food and beer will be part of the post-race entertainment.


Gladiator Rock'n Run 
Joseph D. Grant Park
18405 Mt. Hamilton Road
San Jose, CA 95140
(408) 274-6121

Dates: June 15-16

This two-day event is also held at Joseph D. Grant Park just one week later than the Pineapple Classic 5K. The "difficult but not impossible" course includes 17 obstacles, but contestants may forego an obstacle if it's too challenging. Some obstacles to expect along the course will be a climbing wall, a rope climb, monkey bars and a muddy finish known as "The Pit." Three bands are expected to perform at the after party, where free beer will be served.

RelatedBest Spinning Classes in the South Bay

color me rad

Color Me Rad 5K
Santa Clara County Fairgrounds
344 Tully Road
San Jose, CA 95111

Date: Sept. 14

This event, held at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, is part of a nationwide series of nearly 100 color runs, where participants have colored powder thrown at them. Made of cornstarch, race officials say that the radiant powders are non-toxic and non-rash inducing. The finish line will give contestants a chance to throw color bombs at each other while music will be playing in the background for a completely entertaining finale. Although many of those registering for this event will be running, walkers are also welcome as the event is intended for all levels of fitness.

muddy buddy

Muddy Buddy Adventure Series
Joseph D. Grant Park
18405 Mt. Hamilton Road
San Jose, CA 95140
(800) 311-1255

Date: Sept. 28

Also held at the popular Joseph D. Grant Park, this event is different in that contestants can sign up for the Muddy Buddy Run, the Bike and Run or the children's Mini Muddy Buddy. For the 4.25-mile run, teams of two will run together while negotiating through up to 10 challenging obstacle courses and finish through the event's "infamous" mud pit. For the 6.3-mile Bike and Run race, team members will alternate running and biking throughout the obstacle course and finish off through the mud pit. All finishers receive a technical tee and a finisher's medal and are then treated to a post-race snack and beer.

Related: Best Parks in the South Bay

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on

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