BY BEN ROWE Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — “Mud and flames” led Baltimore resident James King to travel to and compete in the third annual Rockeater Adventure Race Saturday.
King was one of 763 runners who registered to compete in the event, up from 650 in 2012. The 5K (3.1 mile) marathon saw participants race along the Plattsburgh Municipal Beach before taking to the forest along the Heritage Trail and circling back to finish at the Crete Memorial Civic Center.
King had competed in the 2012 Rockeater race, the first marathon he had run since high school, and said the variety of obstacles along the course had convinced him to compete again.
Having finished 33rd in his group in 2012, King finished first in his group in the 2013 competition. Attributing his success to three weeks of six-mile practice runs, King said he looked forward to returning for the next Rockeater competition.
It was training that also led to racing success for 9-year-old MeCaire Mattoon. Mattoon was a runner in the newly-introduced Pebble-Eater Adventure Race for youth with divisions for runners ages 4, 5 and 6; 7, 8 and 9; and 10 through 14.
In preparation for the race, Mattoon had spent two days a week for the past two months training with her father. A marathon runner himself, Mattoon’s father was competing near Cadyville while his daughter faced off in the Pebble-Eater.
Despite her training, which included running practice and sandbag carrying, Mattoon found herself unprepared for the stickiness of the final mud pit obstacle.
“The mud was really fun but it was really hard to crawl through,” Mattoon said.
For fellow Pebble-Eater runner Riley Hewson, strategy was the key to success. Though he enjoyed the design of his “Star Wars”-inspired mask, Hewson explained how it also served a strategic purpose during the beachside portion of the race.
“It’s so I don’t get the sand in my eyes,” Hewson said.
Costumes were a popular part of the race for many participants. With Halloween still over a month away, Pebble-eaters and Rockeaters alike brought out a costume shop’s worth of disguises to wear while competing.
The irony of wearing a bacon costume while leaping over the fire pit was not lost on first-time Rockeater Dave Barber, who competed in the race with his wife, Michelle, to support the cancer research awareness that the race promotes.
Cancer research also drew Patricia Diman to the Rockeater sidelines. Diman is the co-founder of CancerBGone, a local nonprofit group dedicated to supporting the FitzPatrick Cancer Center at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh.
Proceeds from a raffle and CancerBGone merchandise sale near the racecourse as well as local sponsorships of the event went toward funding the center. Total funds raised at the event were still being calculated as of press time.
Diman said she appreciates any chance to combine entertainment with charity and said she was glad to see everyone enjoying themselves in addition to learning about and funding the group.
“It’s community involvement, it’s exercise, and it’s getting the name out,” Diman said.
Along with combining fun with fundraising, City of Plattsburgh Recreation Director Steve Peters said he enjoyed how the race and its variety of obstacles seemed to encourage people to exercise without thinking about the strain of running a marathon.
“You get a lot of people who would not normally do a 5K and even if it’s a mud pit, an obstacle, they’re out there, they’re exercising, they’re feeling good and hopefully it inspires them to continue,” he said.