Mud Runners Counterpoint Couch Potatoes

Published 9:52 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

A curious anomaly is occurring with our waistlines. While Americans have packed on some extra pounds in recent decades, the fittest among us seem to be getting even more physically fit. There are couch potatoes among us, but there is also a legion of he-men and outrageously strong women — more muscled than any generation before them.

I spent Saturday in a remote pine scrub forest near Winnsboro, S.C., watching my oldest son and oldest granddaughter compete in mud races called the Spartan Beast. Waves of 250 adults were released every 30 minutes on a woodland course that included lots of obstacles, some very difficult.

It was like a marathon with obstacles.  There may have been 5,000 runners. The event was sort of a Woodstock for the ultra fitness freaks. Cars lined the roadsides for two miles  leading to the event.

The participants trudged through ponds of waist-deep mud, climbed ropes and crawled over obstacles often with a helping boost from their fellow runners.

I was amazed at their stamina as they competed for a free t-shirt labeled with “Finisher” and the thrill of knowing they had completed the grueling course.

They emerged muddy and exhausted. I saw a woman fall flat on her back when she slipped from a rope traverse. I tried to guess which of the runners would make it over the ropes course, pulling hand-over-hand while upside down for 100 feet. They had already been running and climbing for at least three hours when they reached the ropes.

A high percentage made it, including a woman that inched along the final painful 10 feet while refusing to fall.

This was my son’s third Spartan race and my granddaughter’s second. While she wears frilly dresses when the occasion calls for it, on Saturday she plunged into the mud pits and finished first in her age group while splattered in muddy goo.

I returned home tired from watching and headed for the sofa to watch the Oklahoma game.

• • • • •

ISIS is messing with our hospitality, but the most generous gift we can present to Syrian refugees is not homes in America.

The fanatical murderers in Syria have infiltrated the refugees streaming from that war-torn country to avoid the carnage. ISIS militants have seized the opportunity to slip undetected into European countries with the refugees. Last week they unleashed a fury of bombs and mayhem in Paris.

President Obama had planned to bring 10,000 or more  Syrian refugees here. A few families have already settled in the Winston-Salem area. With the bombs of Paris fresh in our minds, governors and congressmen and presidential candidates have called for President Obama to reconsider.

ISIS murderers have already boasted that they will attack America and have planted their agents here. Knowingly importing more agents of evil seems nothing short of foolhardy.

Americans are a generous people, but we need to face squarely the evil that has been unleashed in the Middle East that has now spilled over to Europe. The most generous thing we can do for the Syrian people is to wipe out the ISIS threat. The President’s remote, pinprick bombing campaign has not worked.

Americans, even the youngest among us, do care. The maniacal West Forsyth High Wackos cheering section on Friday plans to clad themselves in Red, White and Blue colors in a show of support with France. Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s idea to make the Syrians safe in Syria makes a lot of sense.

— Dwight Sparks