Members of the Lander University team before competing in the U.S. Marine Corps Ultimate Challenge Mud Run. From left: Jonathan Larsen, Vernon Peppers, Steve Osborne and Gavin Bethea.
Hardly recognizable after completing the Mud Run, from left: Jonathan Larsen, Gavin Bethea, Vernon Peppers and Steve Osborne.
Four members of the Lander University staff "got down and dirty" on Oct. 13, when they participated in the U.S. Marine Corps Ultimate Challenge Mud Run in Gaston. They were among nearly 5,800 competitors, men and women, divided into four-person teams whose mission was to conquer 36 obstacles spread over a grueling 5.2-mile course designed by a Marine Corps drill instructor.
Representing Lander were three members of the university's police department: Lt. Vernon Peppers and parking enforcement officer Jonathan Larsen, who are former Marines, and Sgt. Steve Osborne. The fourth member of the team was Gavin Bethea, advising coordinator in Lander's Academic Success Center.
The team, nicknamed LUPD for Lander University Police Department, finished 17th out of the 39 teams entered in the Homeland Heroes division. Overall, they finished in the top 50 percent of the 1,434 teams entered.
According to the Greater Columbia Marine Foundation, the course was meant to test the speed and endurance of the participants and presented physical and mental challenges. The teams had to rely on sheer determination, slogging through mud holes and trenches, climbing walls, swimming, crawling and jumping.
The Mud Run was created to raise money, awareness and support for Marines, and veterans in the Columbia area and across the state and nation who have been wounded or killed while serving on active duty, and their families. Profits from the event are also used to create local college scholarships and given to local and national charities that support veterans and promote the Marine Corps in the community.