PITTSBURG — Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Department and Pittsburg State University ROTC will join forces for their annual mud run fundraisers Saturday.

PPRD will host Just Another Mudder for children ages five to 13, while PSU ROTC hosts its Gorilla Dash for participants ages 14 and older.

Just Another Mudder is a one-mile mud run for children, with proceeds going toward the Everybody Plays Playground at Schlanger Park.

“We’ve made really great progress these past couple of years over at Schlanger, so I think people are really starting to take notice,” Coordinator Sara Vacca said. “You kind of start something and it goes really well, so you want to continue to see it succeed.”

The park has seen its share of updates, including a playground, swings, and relined pickleball and basketball courts. The next projects set for the park include a butterfly garden, musical play space and shelter house.

“We want to get our kids active because you know how much they are sitting behind video games and that kind of stuff,” Vacca said. “I love that I can encourage kids to come out and get muddy because moms and dads really love that, too, right?”

The coordinator discussed the benefits of tackling a challenge such as this mud run.

“My son has been running since it started and it’s cool to see his confidence level go up from conquering the course,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of kids grow over the last few years.”

According to Vacca, mud runs for children are not often provided in many other parts of the four-state area.

“It’s really exciting to be able to provide a unique opportunity for the kids to be active,” she said. “If nothing else, we know what obesity rates are like for our children today, and so this is one of those fun events that get your kids who are not doing the sports but they want to come out and try this with their friends.”

The PSU Gorilla Dash is a 5K endurance race that consists of more than 20 obstacles. Proceeds will benefit the SFC Forrest Robertson Scholarship fund, which provides assistance to current ROTC cadets attending PSU.

“The Gorilla Dash can be a worthwhile event if you’re training for a tough mudder or a spartan race,” Vacca said. “It’s a great cause but I think on the adult side it’s a great opportunity to get more training in for some of those larger events.”

Vacca said she looks forward to experiencing the atmosphere of this year’s events.

“The day of the events are the most exciting because you get to see all of the kids smiling and muddy and then you get to send them home,” she said. “I don’t have to take them home — mom and dad can take care of that.”

Both events begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Baja Course at PSU. Registration is $20 for Just Another Mudder and $35 for Gorilla Dash. Teams of five people may also enter Gorilla Dash for $85.

 — Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at bschmitz@morningsun.net.