Police chief, wife launch new extreme obstacle course

Imagine a fugitive, running from the law, encountering obstacles from tall wooden walls to muddy pits of ice cold water.

While this could be a possible scenario for an escaped prisoner running from law enforcement, this actually is the premise of a new extreme obstacle course that Rolla Police Chief Mark Kearse and his wife, D’ettra, are in the process of making.

The couple has launched Fugitive Run, LLC, a new business in Rolla, which is aimed at providing extreme obstacle course racing at a new course being constructed at a quarry southeast of Rolla off Highway 72. The course, once complete, will be about three to four miles long.

The new Fugitive Run Obstacle Course is expected to be open for racing in early spring with the first organized races coming to Rolla beginning in May, according to Mark Kearse.

The first race at the new course is tentatively scheduled for May 25 and its second race will be June 22. Mark Kearse said he plans to hold a race about once a month.

Extreme obstacle course racing has become more popular with events like Tough Mudder races, which are hardcore 10- to 12-mile obstacle courses designed to test individuals’ all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie.

Mark and D’ettra Kearse have competed in Tough Mudder competitions along with others from the Rolla Police Department, most recently last October in Poplar Bluff.

However, their love for running goes back even further.

“My wife has been a runner since junior high and has won scholarships ... she’s always been an athlete,” Mark Kearse said, adding that the couple has run together in adventure races, 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons.

“We started doing these obstacle races and really enjoyed it,” Mark Kearse said.

Unlike the Tough Mudder and other similar obstacle course race companies that travel around, the Fugitive Run business will stay local.

While the Rolla course is not done yet, earlier this month, 10 to 15 obstacles were created for a test run, in which several volunteers from the community took part in a promotional event.

Family and adult racing venues will be offered on the course. Races for children will generally be focused on 25 to 50 obstacles while adults will contend with around 75 to 85 obstacles. For extreme racers, the course will offer more than 100 obstacles.

Races can be run as individuals or in teams, and teams can be comprised of virtually any group. Teams will consist of at least two runners but most likely more.

The typical event at Fugitive Run will take place over a two- or three-day weekend, with multiple formats.

“We envision whole groups, such as police departments or ROTC groups, fraternities and sororities, maybe even businesses or entire towns to field teams, then come to Rolla and compete,” said Mark Kearse.

“During those events, we expect anywhere from 500 to 1,500 people to come to town. Of course, on other weekends, we expect smaller groups, maybe just a couple of families to come for the fun. The whole object of Fugitive Run is to have fun in a challenging outdoor environment, and Rolla is the perfectly central location,” he said.

Mark Kearse said he originally planned to create the course for use by law enforcement but decided “why not make a business out of it” and to open it to the public.

The concept of the course is that contestants are escaped fugitives who have only have so much time and energy to outrun and outsmart the officers pursuing.

There will be wooden walls to climb over, muddy pits of ice water to crawl through, a sprint through the woods along with long watery drainage tubes, a field of tires and other obstacles.