The cloud of dust covering Merle Haggard Drive and Wings Way was bigger than usual thanks to this year’s Volkslauf.
The Marine mud run drew approximately 2,200 people, according to co-race director Denise Haynes.
Of those more than 2,000 runners, Sandra Pizano, 22 and criminal justice major at Bakersfield College, was running the event for the second time in consecutive years participating in the 5k version of the race.
“Its for a good cause but also it’s a challenge, it’s a good experience all together, I had a good time here,” said Pizano. “It seems like it does a lot of good for the community. It brings everyone together for a good cause, raises a lot of money, and they do a good job as far as the obstacles. It’s not just running through mud.”
Pizano and her boyfriend Shawn Davis, 22, a Taft college student, both agreed that overall it was a moderately difficult course with the murky trenches and the ‘stairway to heaven’ being rough spots.
As a first time runner, Davis was surprised to see the amount of people participating and said that it created difficulty for pacing oneself, but did not detract from the enjoyment of the event. He spoke of his motivation for finishing the muddy course and the way to make sure you get to that final hill.
“She [Sandra] talked about running it last year and how fun it was. I have been out of school for a while and out of gym, so I knew it was time to challenge myself physically. The truth of it is though, if you go into it knowing that you are going to finish, you’re not going to give up, then you will finish.”
Seeing participants drudging through the final moat and finish-line, one could only imagine the feeling of accomplishment. Haynes elaborated on that feeling.
“It’s challenging. You have bragging rights to everyone you know, you feel really, really good about yourself and really strong,” said Haynes. “Even though we have 2,200 people doing it, that’s only 2,200 people out of a whole county. When I finish myself, I am bruised from head to toe, but man I feel good. The endorphins are way up there.”
Haynes seemed pleased with this year’s turnout.
“We had about 2,200 runners. Which matches the 2010 numbers, one of our best years. This year and 2010 have been our best years yet,” said Haynes. This is technically the 16th year the Volkslauf has run in Bakersfield, with no run the 13th year due to a loss of venue stated Haynes. She was optimistic for this year’s charitable prospect.
“I’m hoping that based on the number of people who ran we will surpass last years total,” said Haynes. “Last year we gave $43,000 and I am hoping to exceed that.” She stated that total numbers would not be tallied until bills were paid and the netted amount calculated.
Some of the recipients of this years run will be Toys for Tots(the originating charity), Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ronald McDonald House. Haynes assured all money stayed local and in the community. The Kern County Fire Department Explorers and Bakersfield Police Department Explorers were also volunteers and will receive a portion of the funds raised.
A large Goodwill truck was also taking donations on-site. Davis and Pizano were very receptive to that idea, among others.
“It’s really cool that they included the Goodwill Truck with donation bins. The group I was with was going to throw their shoes away, now we can actually donate them,” said Davis.
Both Davis and Pizano plan on running next year.
“Next time I am going to try and get more people involved,” said Davis. “It was cool having friends here. It would be motivation.”