Kelly Hoppman will run her seventh mud run Saturday, so you could consider her a pro.
Three years ago, she endured one of the hardest days of her life going through the obstacles. But it had nothing to do with the course.
In 2006, Hoppman ran the USMC Ultimate Challenge Mud Run weeks after her brother, Cpl. David G. Weimortz, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, was killed in Iraq.
"It had only been three weeks," Hoppman said. "I was crying at the start.
"I never thought I'd ever live without my brother. We had to depend on each other for so much."
She started competing in the mud run in 2003 after Weimortz went to boot camp.
"I thought this would be something neat to see what he was going through," she said.
Weimortz served two tours in Iraq and volunteered for a third. On Aug. 25, 2006, he was killed by a roadside bomb six days before his 29th birthday.
He was the 41st service member with S.C. ties to die in Iraq.
Hoppman soon found out who the mud run benefited: The Greater Columbia Marine Foundation - and herself.
The nonprofit organization raises money through the mud run to support Columbia area families of Marines who have been wounded or killed while serving on active duty.
"That's when I learned the mud run went to support families like mine," Hoppman said. "Here I thought it was some great obstacle course."
The foundation now sponsors a college scholarship in Weimortz's name.
When Hoppman lines up Saturday, she'll be thinking about all the families affected by war. She'll be thinking about her brother.
"When I run it, I run it for him," she said. "My brother gets me through so many things."