What to expect for the second Car-X Crazy K Saturday? More mud!
The organizers of the race say they will provide a bigger, better, muddier experience this year for race participants.
The event is again at the Champaign County Fairgrounds and Crystal Lake Park in Urbana. The 5K course will include 19 obstacles this year, eight of which are new. About half the obstacles involve water or mud.
“The feedback we got from last year’s race was that people wanted more obstacles and more mud and slop, so we’ve tried to accommodate that,” said Adam LeGrande, one of the designers of the course. 
Early in the race, participants will encounter the Mud Tarp Crawl. LeGrande said race organizers took the grass off an area of ground and tilled up the dirt. They’ll soak the dirt, and racers will have to crawl on the ground, underneath a tarp covering that section of ground.
“That should smear them with mud early in the race,” LeGrande said.
Other new obstacles this year include:
— Stockyard Stampede, where racers will weave in and out of corrals in a livestock building on the fairgrounds, going over hay bales and planks.
— High Stepper, where participants will step through a raised grid of shock cords.
— Creek Cross, where runners will scramble into a creek bed, run along the creek bed and exit by climbing up wooden ladders.
— Spider Crawl, in which racers crawl under a cargo net.
— Water Slide, which LeGrande called “a giant slip-n-slide.” He and other race organizers hauled in about a dozen loads of dirt to raise the slope of an existing hill. They’ll lay plastic on top, with water trickling down. Runners will go up the back side of the hill and slide down the water slide into a pool of water at the bottom.
— Tractor Tire, where racers will crawl through a series of tractor tires standing on end.
— Muddy Trench, where runners will negotiate a trench full of water and mud.
Another piece of feedback race organizers got after last year’s event was about the Crystal Lake portion of the race.
“Although it was a nice run, there were not enough obstacles out there for them,” LeGrande said.
They’ve doubled the number of obstacles in Crystal Lake this year, he said.
They are sticking with their philosophy of making the race fun and accessible though.
“None of (the obstacles) are individually really tough to do,” LeGrande said. “I still think all the obstacles we added this year are all obstacles that an average person could do. We want it to be fun and we want it to be challenging, but we don’t want to scare anybody off.
“For a runner who is really trying to run this thing fast and trying to compete for a cash prize, it’s going to be a hard race because there are so many obstacles and so many things to do. It adds up.”
Participants don’t have to do any obstacle they don’t want to. For example, those not wanting to do the creek crossing can cross the creek via the bridge, as racers did last year. If racers choose to skip an obstacle, they won’t be eligible for a cash prize, but they can still race, LeGrande said.
“I think if someone finishes this course and isn’t completely dirty, you know they didn’t do all the obstacles,” he said.
As of last week, the race was well ahead of last year’s number of entrants. LeGrande said race organizers were hoping for 1,600 runners this year.
The event will start in the afternoon rather than the morning this year, so more racers will compete in each heat and it will be easier to manage in terms of the number of volunteers needed, LeGrande said. He also hopes a smaller window of time for racing will contribute to the energy of the event, with more people at the fairgrounds and on the course at any particular time.
The race was created by Parham Parastaran, owner of the local Car-X businesses. It benefits a number of local charities.
In addition to the 5K obstacle run, the event includes live music, a kids’ fun run, a kids’ zone with inflatables, food vendors and a post-race concert.
The event will begin with a pasta dinner tonight for the racers. Teams are encouraged to go out to the fairgrounds today to set up tents in the tailgate area for race day.
Runners can still register online through 2 p.m. today, at www.carxcrazyk.com , or at the fairgrounds from 5 to 8 p.m. this evening.
Photo: Racers negotiate a mud pit at the 2011 Car-X Crazy K. Photo provided by Parham Parastaran.