In 2001, First Sergeant Samuel “Sam” Alameda, the Inspector-Instructor First Sergeant, Engineer Company B, South Bend, IN, saw a need in the South Bend area’s Toys for Tots program — specifically for toys in two age groups which continually ran short of intended goals. 1st Sgt Alameda envisioned a mini-Volkslauf (a mud run with obstacles), which would help raise the needed cash donation and allow him to purchase toys. 1st Sgt Alameda first participated in a Volkslauf back in 1985, while assigned to a Marine Medium Helicopter attachment. This event was hosted by Marine Corps Air Station, Tustin, Ca. each year to raise funds for Toys for Tots, but 1st Sgt Alameda did not have the space needed to hold one.

Space was a factor in creating the course, so 1st Sgt Alameda shelved the idea until a solution was found. The second obstacle was to enlist support for the idea and to find a co-host. In 2003, a solution to the location problem surfaced, in the way of Culver Academy. Culver Academy had the space he was looking for, so 1st Sgt Alameda, armed with an idea, went to Culver and pitched the idea to Capt Kehoe, the Military advisor. Capt Kehoe was very receptive and requested permission to hold the event on Culver Academy grounds. Permission was granted. Now, 1st Sgt Alameda had to solve the issue of a co-host.

Enter the Marine Corps League, St Joseph Valley, Det. 095. In the spring of 2003, 1st Sgt Alameda approached the League with his idea and without hesitation, every member voted to assist and be the co-host of the “Marine Mud Run.” A date was set for the 1st Annual Marine Mud Run – 18 Sept 2004.


The Course

With the location and co-host behind him, 1st Sgt Alameda set out to enlist the collective minds of the commanding officer and his Marines to design a 5K run which would be just as challenging as the 10K Volkslauf, but motivating and fun for all age groups. The traditional Marine obstacles where already part of the Volkslauf, but 1st Sgt Alameda wanted something to give it the Marine Corps stamp of appeal and what better than Marines manning the course giving words of encouragement. From there, endless ideas flowed regarding the design and feasibility of the course.

Birth of the Marine Mud Run

The first was constructed at Culver Academy from materials donated from businesses and individuals willing to participate in a truly unusual and intriguing event. Needless to say, the first and second Marine Mud Runs went off without a hitch and attracted close to 200 runners.

The Move

In 2006, the Mud Run was moved due to logistic constraints and at the request of runners to South Bend, Indiana. The move would prove to be a great idea, attracting 260 runners.

In 2007, attendance increased to 370 runners – far exceeding estimated projections of runners. Additionally, the Marine Mud Run adopted the United States Marine Corps motto “Semper Fi to the Children.” “Semper Fi” is short for “Semper Fidelis,” which in Latin means “Always Faithful.” Semper Fi to the Children was originally used in a song written by a Marine for the 50th anniversary of the Toys for Tots program, and was subsequently made the title of an article by Virginia Ransbottom of the South Bend Tribune, who covered the purchase of over 500 toys for the children we’re dedicated to helping.

To date, the Marine Mud Run has raised more than $25,000.00 and helped purchase over 5,000 toys.