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Runners get tunnel vision during off-road fundraiser

Solon Survivor Extreme 5K draws 90 runners
Mark Pattison leads a group of runners down a farm driveway southwest of Solon as part of the Solon Survivor Extreme 5K, held Saturday, March 9. (photo by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– Organizers for the Solon Survivor Extreme 5K were walking the planned race route looking for a safe place to cross Mehaffey Bridge Road when they all saw the culvert.
“A couple of us went through it and we knew immediately that this was going to be an extreme race,” said Brian Bock.
Bock was also one of the 90 participants in the off-road 5K held Saturday, March 9, as a fundraiser for the Solon Sluggers 12U baseball team and the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. He finished fourth in just under 30 minutes.
The culvert was one of several obstacles thrown at racers, along with chilly temperatures.
“I thought it was great,” Bock said of the race. “You just can’t copy conditions like that.”
The route began at the St. Mary Catholic Church parking lot and meandered along a line of trees west, crossing under Mehaffey Bridge and through Jordan Creek, across farm fields and over round bales and then back to the starting line.
Through slush, puddles and mud.
“One other thing that was unique was running through the buffalo corral where they used to load buffalo from the pasture,” Bock said. “Kind of a maze that was different than any other race.”
Bock came up with the idea last year when Sluggers 12U parents were discussing possible fundraisers. He had participated in a popular off-road 5K at Living History Farms, and thought it would be interesting to add obstacles. Not as extreme as with Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder courses which can purposely inflict duress, but something to challenge runners “so they’re not just running down the street,” he said.
When the start of the 2013 season approached, it was decided to give it a try.
“First of all, we needed a route,” Bock said. “We talked to local landowners and asked their permission. We ended up creating the route the week before the race.” He thanked Mary Jo Fabritz, Kermit Johnson, Dave Harney and Bill Leefers, the involved property owners, for their indulgence.
A portion of the funds raised through the Solon Survivor Extreme 5K will be donated to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital through the University of Iowa Foundation, and the rest will be used to help fund additional tournaments for the team.
“We think the kids should learn to give back,” Bock said. It’s expected the group will hold the event again next year.