The popular mud races we see out there usually attract eager, young adults waiting to prove their strength to world. Ever thought, though, that maybe these courses could be transformed into a muddy wonderland for kids?

At the start

That’s exactly the idea that came to Sarah Luzi in the middle of the night — the idea for the Banzai Physical Challenge.

“In the middle of the night, I could not sleep, I got a paper plate and started sketching down ideas for obstacles,” Luzi says.

Luzi worked with her good friend and engineer Kevin Ellis to design the course and obstacles. Ellis hired a team of welders to help him contract his ideas into obstacles.

Luzi, who lives in Chandler and is a mother of two, designed this physical challenge to be a new concept in the mud run category that allows families to participate with one another. A group of local engineers designed obstacles easy enough for children to complete, but difficult enough for adults to be challenged. The obstacles are targeted at children ages 4 to 17, where the younger children can enjoy the entry level obstacles at the beginning of the course.

“I used to watch my husband compete in these mud warrior challenges, and I remember thinking, ‘They look like children. This is for kids, man,’” Luzi says.

Challenging obstacles

Banzai competitors will make their way through 20 obstacles, challenging adults and children to work together and get through each one.

Some of the most difficult obstacles include the “warrior’s mountain” quarter pipe wall climb, a rope jungle where you must swing from rope to rope in order to make it across the muddy pit below, and the “dangler,” in which you climb upside down and backwards over mud using a specially designed ladder.

Fun obstacles

For the fun side of the games, there are obstacles like crawling under a large muddy netting in the tarp crawl and the “dirty blanket” mud crawl, where you slink under a wired structure in deep mud. Lastly, make your way to the rope swing “gorilla whip,” another rope swing where you fly over a deep mud pit.

Other obstacles include balance beams, spider web, tire roll, sand bag carry, hay hurdles and “slithering” through a snaking mud trench.

Finish line

“It was a really cool family experience,” says Julie Lally, whose daughters, ages 4 and 9, competed in the Banzai’s trial run. “I would definitely do it again and challenge other family members to compete with us.”

• Nicole, a junior at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or

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