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A proposed mudfest this summer just might boost Ravalli County’s economy, educate people about outdoor conservation, feed the less fortunate and be a whole lotta fun.

RC Mudders for Conservation is the brainchild of Kelliann Morris with the Ravalli County Weed District. She ran in Missoula’s Dirty Dash Mud Run a few years back, which planted the seed in her head to create one closer to home.

She envisions a three-mile obstacle course for adults wearing tutus and other costumes, plus a second, shorter course for the younger generation. Each course will have a variety of muddy bogs, poles and pits, including a slip-n-slide that she calls the “Munchkin Pheasant Flutter” since they slide through multi-colored paint.

Hidden flags within the pits can be cashed in for prizes, and a cup of beer will be available, maybe mid-race, for participants.

“We’re looking at 12 to 15 different obstacles throughout the three-mile course for adults,” Morris told Ravalli County Commissioners this week. “Not every one of our obstacles will be in the mud; we’ll also have paint, plastic, running through a series of tires. (Trapper Creek) Job Corps is building some kind of vertical obstacle, too.”

It’s not a timed race, but a fun run for all ages and skill levels, with groups of 10 or 20 people starting about every 10 minutes. Morris said about 24,000 people participated in Missoula’s Dirty Dash, and she’s hoping to have 10,000 at the Ravalli County event, which will be held in a field adjacent to the airport on June 16.

“They have 6, 8, 10 inches or more of topsoil, which we need to make the mud,” she said. “We’ll dig our holes, then fill them back afterward and in a few weeks you won’t know it’s even been disturbed.”

The tie-in to the weed district’s conservation message would be in a variety of forms, with vendors in booths from a range of groups — perhaps the U. S. Forest Service and the jobs corps, backcountry horse folks, and others — with brochures on herbicides, bees, native grasses, farming, and fires.

“We’re trying to incorporate anyone we can and encourage them to have a booth and hand out information on everything that has to do with outdoor conservation,” Morris said.

With a $45 early entrance fee, if 10,000 people do show up for the event, that would bring in $450,000, which allows the vendor booths to be free. A portion of the funds would go to the airport for improvements, since the race is on airport property. Some of the money would go to conservation groups, to help with projects, educational materials and outreach. Some funds would return to the Weed District to cover the costs of the event and for future events, as well as for educational and outreach efforts.

“I think it also will help the economy; people come from all over for these kind of things,” Morris said. “When I did the Dirty Dash in Missoula a couple years ago … folks were coming from Canada, the Flathead, eastern Montana, Idaho and even Florida. So I think we’ll have a good turnout.

“Ravalli County needs family-oriented things to do, and this will fit every age group from the littlest to the oldest.”

She also hopes that food and soft drink vendors will be part of the event, which Morris said would run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Morris is quick to add that this needs to be a community project. They’re looking for donated prizes. They’re hoping to work with the school district and others to allow people to park at the high school and be ferried to the airport by bus to alleviate congestion. She wants to talk to firefighters to see if they can provide water to make the mud and possibly spray off participants at the end. They also need logs and straw.

“We’re also accepting cash donations,” she said. “It’s a huge job and we’re hoping to get lots of volunteers. We need a ton of people to donate their time before, during and after the event.”

To further benefit the community, Morris is asking people to donate canned or non-perishable food items. She’s also accepting muddy shoe donations after the race, saying they’ll be professional cleaned and distributed to people who are in need.

“We want this to be a family-oriented activity, and encourage teams to compete,” Morris said.

She received a warm reception from the commission.

“I’m fine with all of it,” Commissioner Jeff Burrows said. “I think it’s a good idea.”

Morris told the commissioners she hopes they show up with their tutus.

“I encourage you guys and everyone in Ravalli County to do the mud run,” she said.

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Associate Editor

Associate Editor at The Ravalli Republic