Warrior-themed costumes are encouraged during the Worthington Wellness Warrior Run, which means teachers like Ty Hollinger participate while wearing Viking horns and football shoulder pads.

Hollinger said the eighth annual race that begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, at McCord Middle School, 1500 Hard Road in Columbus, is a muddy and challenging obstacle course.

"We have several obstacles to jump or climb over, 'barbarians' (staff members dressed in costume) to run around and mud to run and crawl through," he said. "The mud is usually people's favorite part.

"We expect to have a few new surprises on the course this year, but participants will have to register to find out what they are," he said.

Registration for the race is free for Worthington families and staff members, but Saturday, Sept. 30 is the last day to register at worthingtonwellnesswarriors.com. No registration will be available on race day.

Bib pickup will begin at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 1, but Hollinger said runners should try to pick up their race numbers at Fleet Feet Sports, 1270 E. Powell Road, on Friday, Sept. 29, or Sept. 30 during regular store hours to avoid long lines on race day.

The race is sponsored by Granby Elementary School, where Hollinger is a sixth-grade teacher, but it starts and ends on the track at McCord. The course takes runners around the McCord and Granby grounds.

Hollinger said all ages are welcome to run, with the "Lil' Warrior" race designed for participants in pre-kindergarten to third grade.

He said the course is shorter but still includes the mud pit and several obstacles. To keep the course safe, older participants are asked to remain off the course during that time, unless they are helping one of the runners.

Start times will be by grade level, with the Lil' Warrior pre-K race beginning at 4 p.m. and then every 15 minutes thereafter through sixth grade.

Family members, older students and staff members will run the course beginning at 6:30 p.m.

"In recent years, we have had over 1,000 participants from all over Worthington," Hollinger said. "It is a unique community event that brings students, families and staff together.

"Runners jump over and squeeze under obstacles, get blasted by water, crawl through mud and have an all-around good time."

Granby principal Patti Schlaegel called the race "good, clean, fun."

"Worthington is an amazing community and this brings out the best in what we are all about -- providing wonderful growth opportunities for all students in a variety of settings," she said. "This is a unique event for kids to try something new, challenge themselves and have a ton of fun."

Hollinger said the highlight of the race is seeing the faces of the students and their families.

"The mud-covered smiles at the finish line are priceless," he said. "There is nothing better than watching a family laugh together after their experience, while covered in mud and celebrating a completed challenge."

All questions should be directed to Hollinger at thollinger@wscloud.org.