Featured Bottle - Chapter Ten: Mudd Run Bottle

Chris had a bucket list, and one goal was to complete an athletic challenge called the Hardcore Mudd Run. early in 2012, he picked "Wild Bunch" as the team name and designed the team t-shirt. My son, Peter, and I were in charge of the logistics crew. Chris and my daughter, Jackie, registered first, and then we sent out some e-mails to invite others. We were delighted to see the team grow to five members.

Chris's sudden death crushed me, and initially I thought there would be no sense in participating since we'd lost the captain. However, the rest of the team and Chris’s son and daughter (Scott and Ryan) felt strongly that we needed to do this in memory of Chris. Soon we had a team of eight (Scott Snyder, Ryan Moore, Jackie DeMartino, Gail Dunmire, Doug Swope, Mitchell McCracken, Hannah McCracken, and John Maine).

On September 8, 2012, the team arrived at Tussey Mountain before 11:00 a.m. It was pouring rain right from the start, which made everything slippery. (I guess that’s what you have to expect from a “mudd” run!)

This run was a hardcore run that included eight miles and twenty-two obstacles. Some of the obstacles were extremely difficult. The entire team was absolutely amazing! They demonstrated their strength, endurance, determination, and team spirit the whole time. I could just imagine how proud Chris would have been of his team (and probably was from above), especially his children.

Ryan is an amazing athlete and eagerly took every difficult challenge; she didn’t even look tired when it was over. She had done other mudd runs and loves running, doing it whenever and wherever she can. She calls it a “healthy addiction.”

Scott is a natural leader. Throughout the entire event, he showed care for his teammates, making sure that no one was left behind. Scott, who has had multiple surgeries on his knees, had been ready to give up physical events all together, but his dad’s death inspired him to keep going and to believe that he could accomplish this—and he did!

My nineteen-year-old daughter, Jackie, said the run was physically and mentally draining. This was her first time doing a military-style course. At the end, she described it as “eight miles of torture,” but she was happy that she’d decided to do it. She managed to accomplish a huge feat and was able to finish the run for Chris.

My friend Gail had worked closely with both Chris and me professionally. She felt she lost a dear friend when Chris died. She and her running partner Doug wanted to complete the run for Chris and to test their endurance.

Mitchell, Hannah, and John are Scott’s friends from the air force. They participated to support Scott. They are such fine young people, and I feel honored to know them.

I made a life-size poster of Chris for the event. I bought a software tool and printed out twenty plus pages of segments of an existing picture of him. I cut them to proper shapes and then glued all the pieces together. The team took a picture with “Chris” before and after since he was the true captain of the event. I was very glad I made this life-size poster. Right after he died, I had trouble looking at his picture without being overwhelmed with sadness. After I made the poster, I was able to look at him with a smile, even saying how handsome he looked.

I made a bottle to commemorate the event. I stacked two decks of cards on top of each other and built a wooden platform around it to illustrate a particularly difficult obstacle the team had to overcome. It was not easy to build this platform inside of a bottle! The most difficult part was inserting the center piece of wood board without breaking it in two. I got so frustrated at one point that I wanted to smash the bottle to pieces, but I remembered Chris’s advice to walk away when frustrated. So, I put the bottle away for few days, and when I picked it up again, I was able to finish it.

The bottle became my new favorite because it represented Chris, family, and overcoming challenges.