GREELEY - Climbing up and over walls, running down hills and through lots of mud over a three-mile course, will separate the athlete from true muckers in coming weeks. The second annual MuckStock, Sunday, August 19 will present itself as a challenge unlike any other, says Tom Ryan a co-founder of VetStock that created the race.

MuckStock is one of many fundraisers that supports VetStock, a local non-profit that helps veterans in Pike, Wayne and Monroe counties. Now, with a  permanent home in Greeley at Kahr Arms, there are hundreds of acres for the course’s growth.

After the first MuckStock last year, participants asked for more difficulty, now with new obstacles, Ryan warns “be careful what you ask for.”

MuckStock, Ryan says is a “creative way” for VetStock to accomplish their goal of helping as many veterans’ organizations as they can. A Vietnam veteran, Ryan understands the challenges returning servicemen and women experience and through VetStock’s efforts, he wants to help because it is “what I was born to do” and why he was “left to live” following experiences he encountered while serving.

Years ago servicemen didn’t return with the wounds they do today, with the loss of limbs and traumatic brain injuries that can be addressed today says Ryan. Although there has been progress, more still needs to be done, as they must readjust back into civilian life.

A few years ago, VetStock helped a veteran who lived in a nursing home for years, because he couldn’t function on his own, after a Humvee blew up when he was in Iraq. The volunteers from VetStock built that veteran a home that accommodates his needs. Such situations, Ryan says, are things those involved in VetStock are able to address.

More recently, VetStock has formed a partnership with GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center for the Horses for Hero’s program, that includes equine therapy and works with veterans and their families.

Often times, Ryan says he learns of veterans who need help, but he does not address the medical and psychological issues, he sends them to the veteran coordinator for the county because there is a process to follow. If someone calls, however, he is able to direct them to where they need to go and if he is able, he will help.

For those interested in helping the volunteer-based program, Ryan says they should just “show up,” because there is always something that needs to be done, so they will be directed to what they can do. The volunteers, are loyal even though many aren’t veterans because they just want to help he believes.

The new MuckStock course, Ryan says is more uphill then downhill, and if one goes downhill they’re going to have to work to get uphill, since it will be “very challenging.” Participants will be tasked with climbing over six-foot high walls using ropes. At other areas, the runners must pick up large logs and run through areas that Ryan calls a “little treacherous.”  He adds, “they’ll be fine.”

While the course will be tough, Ryan says the “amateurs” will just have to run a little slower. There will be decoys and holes to maneuver around. Still carrying that log, the runners have to continue up and over hills. At another point, they will have to climb a cargo net and end up back in more mud, only to pick up the log before moving on.

All total, it took a month for the course to be designed. Later on, once further along, the runners will have to carry the log, possibly on their backs and make it through more mud. Basically, “they’re going to marry the log,” says Ryan.

Going forward, the runners will have to crawl through tubes coated in vegetable oil, that will help them move more easily and then, back through mud. The overall course, reflects what a solider in training may encounter, says Ryan.

Many who participated last year weren’t veterans, Ryan says. Instead, they were dedicated to the cause and just want to do something to help. Everyone though, is “driven by one goal; to make a difference.” Later in the three-mile race, still carrying their logs, Ryan notes that teamwork will be essential, unless a person wants to carry the log throughout the three miles.

The course will now have a permanent home on the Kahr Arms property, because the owners are large supporters of VetStock, says Ryan. The property offers woods and “rough terrain” that is a “thousand percent better” then the previous course, because of the difficulty that is created with the natural landscape. An additional benefit is that the course is constructed to stay at the site and so, people can practice if they make a donation.

At another area, now out of the woods, there will be culverts that the participants have to jump over, one after another, not taking individual steps over the obstacles. Last year, with nearly 200 participants, Ryan figures they broke even. Next year however, he hopes for growth as word spreads and a reputation is built.

Moving along the course, with more culverts that will be flooded with 3,000 gallons of water and lots of mud, Ryan warns that the area will be “a little messy.”  

With other races happening around, MuckStock is different Ryan believes, because of the veterans and that veterans are the beneficiaries of the efforts. But, the MuckStock course is special because of the incorporation of the “natural beauty of Pennsylvania.”

Later in the course, once the runners address ropes, they’ll have to carry that log again. After a brief run on a flat portion of land, the runners will encounter more hills and very large tires they have to flip and move.

There will be a paintball range with targets, where participants have three chances to hit a card. If they miss, they must do burpees. Going back to the tires, they have to move them again. With that, Ryan says everything has to be brought back to where it was originally. The tires, he figures to be 400 pounds and simply, “they’re heavy.” Moving along, looking at the natural landscape, Ryan calls it a “beautiful run.” The end of the three-mile race is an easy flat run to the finish line.

Ryan says Vetstock has to continue to grow because more money needs to be raised, to help more veterans. With veterans facing various issues, once they return from service, they need help and through the community connections that have been created, help is available.

Although anyone can participate in the various events created through VetStock, the reality is that there is a special connection between servicemen, Ryan states, because of their experiences and so a “brotherhood” is created. Readjusting to civilian life, that Ryan says is hard because the veterans have likely done things they can’t explain and so, they will carry scars since they did what was necessary to survive, making them a different person.

Anyone, whether they have a disability or not is welcome to participate in MuckStock, Ryan adds. No matter the disability, they will be assisted to get through the course. Someone may run with the individual or push a wheelchair, something will be done so they can experience the course in “some way, shape or form.”

For more information about MuckStock visit https://vetstockamerica.com/muckstock/. For more information about VetStock visit https://vetstockamerica.com/about/.