OGDEN — Matt Upton jumped into the blood bath to outrun the crowds of people behind him Saturday morning, wading through bones and snakes to reach the other side.
He made it across, but he pulled himself out of the viscous red water a changed man. Protruding from the small of his back was a long red tail with its telltale point at the end.
“I went in a man, and I came out a devil,” he said.
It was a costume piece. Upton found it floating in the “blood bath” obstacle filled with plastic bones and rubber snakes of the Devil Dash 5K at the Weber County Fairgrounds. He supposed another runner lost it in the Dumpster of dyed-red water, so he decided to put it on in the spirit of the Hell-themed race.
Almost 1,000 people ran the premiere of the 5K in Utah, which has been touring the western United States for about a year. Runners face 12 obstacles on the course, from a web of bungee cords to run through — dubbed the Web of Lies — to the mud pit, otherwise known as the Plunge into Hell.
New to this course, and the second-to-last obstacle, was a graveyard. Runners had to climb their way in and out of a series of 6-foot-deep muddy graves, which proved a handful for Jeri Frost’s family.
Her clan of 13, representing three generations and most of them coming all the way from Duchesne County, ran the 5K together. A 5K was a first for them and the graves near the end “kicked our butts,” Frost said.
Frost and her 14-year-old granddaughter Abigail reached the grim pits at the same time, and young Abigail made it through first. She said she would have helped grandma out of her last grave, but Frost made it out on her own soon enough.
The race was a great way for their family to visit and have fun together, Frost said.
Eric Wienk, the course manager, said a few runners figured out they could turn sideways in the graves, put their feet up against the sides and walk out.
But it was the Stairway to Heaven and Satan’s Steeple that challenged Rachel Miller the most. As she tackled the two A-frame obstacles, climbing up one 20-foot steep incline of ropes and wood and descending down the other, she felt terrified.
But as she came running through the finish line — a short series of hoops on fire — she said she was glad she challenged herself and would do it again.
Over in Fort Buenaventura, other runners chose to spend less time being reminded of Dante’s Inferno and more time in bubble baths for their Saturday.
The 5K Foam Fest returned to Ogden for a second year, with about 900 people challenged by the slippery, sudsy course.
Scott Chenoweth and his son, Kai, led the pack and encountered the slip-and-slide first. They slid through and came out the other end covered in bubbles.
After a quick high-five, they ran into a bounce house filled with suds several feet high. They almost appeared to run in slow motion trying to get through it.
Up ahead was a much longer slip-and-slide than the first, and they agreed to sprint and hit the wet tarp as fast as they could. Dad slid on his stomach almost all the way to the end, though Kai did not fare as well.
After a few more obstacles, a dive into the river and crawling on all fours on top of giant tires to get back across the water, they were the first two across the finish line.
Kai, caked in mud, said he felt tired as he caught his breath now that the 3.2-mile course was behind him.
He started to run as a hobby only about two weeks ago. He gets exercise in self-defense classes and usually leaves the running to his dad.
Still, he walked away smiling with a faux gold medal around his neck and the other about 900 people still slipping, sliding and trying to catch up.