Posted by: Tom Boyd
It all began with an impromptu dive into the mud.
Like most 2015 Kyocera Mountain Mud Run participants, Jess Manning was cheering, shouting, and high-fiving strangers at the start line as he prepared for his face-to-face encounter with Vail Mountain’s globulous, earthy brand of mud.*
Unbridled, unassuming, and un-timed, this muddy event represents everything lighthearted and fun at the GoPro mountain Games in Vail. In 2015, Jess was on break from his job with Triggerpoint, and was ready to dive headfirst into a good ol’ fashioned, down n’ dirty time.
After navigating a few of the obstacles, Jess noticed something rather strange: despite the many mud-filled thoroughfares on the Mountain Mud Run course, there was quite a lot of tip-toeing going on.
“I just looked around and saw a lot of people kind of leaping and hopping through the mud pits,” Manning said. “It looked like they were trying to keep their shoes clean.”
Manning stopped, looked around, and said something like, “C’mon people! This is a MUD RUN!” before diving face-first, beard, sunglasses and all, into one of the mud pits. He even made a few mud angels.
He wasn’t alone for long, and the 2015 Mountain Mud Run became one of the muddiest in years.
“The firemen who hose us down at the end of the race had a lot of work to do that day,” Manning remembers.
It wasn’t long until photos of Jess began to circulate through the (very active) Mountain Games social media world. Pictures of a heavily bearded, heavily mud-caked runner from the Mountain Games made rounds on the internet, and Manning became something of a social media star.
“His legend grew, but no one knew who he was. He was indistinguishable behind all that mud. There were days we weren’t even sure he was real. He was like Sasquach or the Yeti,” said Tom Boyd of the Vail Valley Foundation, which hosts the event.
“Like a big, bearded, highly-enthusiastic mud-Yeti. We didn’t know who he was so we started calling him the ‘Mud Stud’. I knew we had to find this guy.”
In 2016, the Mud Stud returned and rocked the Mountain Games in full-force, not only conquering the Mountain Mud Run but also, to the amazement of bewildered onlookers, running ALL of the Mountain Games’ running events – while covered head-to-toe in mud.
“Everywhere you went at the 2016 Mountain Games, he was there. If he weren’t such a unique character I might say there’s more than one of him,” Boyd said. “We asked him to do a short video to inspire people to run the race … I got the footage and I thought, ‘this guy is amazing.’”
The man behind the mud mask
The Mud Stud has already become ensconced in Mountain Games lore, but behind all that mud there is a man… a real, sometimes moderately clean, man. Manning’s muddy enthusiasm provides a fulfilling, family-friendly, outdoor life in Utah for he, his wife, and their three boys.
Jess Manning and his beard will be back again in 2017 and says that, yes, he plans to run ALL of the running events once again.
He’ll also be back with Triggerpoint, where he is now a Senior Product Education Manager for Fitness for Triggerpoint and Implus, Triggerpoint’s umbrella brand. From the U.S. Ski Team to trainers and athletes around the country, Jess shares knowledge on how to get the most out of Triggerpoint’s foam rollers and other therapeutic, self-care products.
He is also an ultra runner, taking on all and any running events that he can squeeze into his busy schedule.
June 8-11 2017, however, is a special day on the calendar, Manning said.
“The Mountain Games are outrageously fun – there’s just nothing like them anywhere in the world,” he said. “I love it – can’t wait to be back.”
Remedy your excessive hygiene by signing up to get dirty with the Mud Stud HERE (costumes encouraged!).
* We’re not sure “globulous” is a word. Anyway if it isn’t, it is now!
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