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After getting caked in mud, splashing through streams of water, and crossing the finish line with the seventh best time in a hellacious backwoods race known as Warrior Dash, Temperance's Chad Anastasoff was thinking, "I can do better."
So he gave it another shot a few weeks later -- and won. He followed that triumph with yet another win and finished the year with two victories in what the event's organizers describe as "America's most insane race."
Anastasoff, 26, occasionally competes in 5K races around the area -- even winning one in July despite getting four hours of sleep -- but there's a certain level of satisfaction that comes only from putting his body through 3.1 miles of torture in what's billed as a "mud crawling, fire leaping, extreme run from hell."
"It's an all-around personal challenge for yourself," Anastasoff said. "You're fighting through mud and water, you're climbing stuff, you're jumping over stuff. There's a little bit of swimming. After the first one I was kind of thinking I can do better. It's more fun [than a road race] because it's more of a personal challenge."
Anastasoff's seventh-place finish came June 4 in Logan, Ohio, when he covered the course in 20:20.70, which was actually his fastest finish time of the three races. He captured his first title July 31 in Mt. Morris, Mich., and followed with another Sept. 10 in Carrollton, Ohio.
"The toughest part was probably the mud," he said. "It gets tough carrying it around. You're covered in it. Your shoes are full of it. You're carrying all that weight, and you're slipping everywhere. The last race I ran I got a pair of five-finger shoes, and they don't carry as much mud."
After graduating from Bedford High School, where he competed in cross country and track and field, Anastasoff continued running competitively.
He and his friends take part each year in the Great Lakes Relay, a three-day road race that traverses the northern part of the Lower Peninsula. When members of the group backed out this summer, Anastasoff sought out the Warrior Dash to satisfy his hunger pangs.
He hasn't completely given up road racing, though. On the July 4 weekend, Anastasoff won a local 5K despite waking up just four hours after logging a 22-hour work day. An employee at Dunbar Mechanical in Toledo, Anastasoff was asked to work overtime and oversee X-rays on piping.
"I stayed overnight until about 6 or 7 in the morning," he said.
What a warrior.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @RyanAutullo