No two cities ever host the same Critical Mud 5K event. Though the race distance stays the same, the event planners litter each race with an ever-changing number of obstacles pulled from a pool of more than 150, giving runners in each city a completely different experience. Some courses might threaten competitors with slippery hills and murky rivers, while others might challenge them to traverse sticky mud bogs and climb up ropes, validating their many years of never skipping gym class. Each event is open to racers as young as 14, but the Little Mudder’s fun run give kids ages 4–13 a chance to get dirty as well. In the spectator areas, family, friends, and supporters can cheer on runners while staying clean.
Pennrose Park Country Club's nine-hole, par 36 course has challenged generations of golfers since its creation by legendary golf architect Donald J. Ross in 1929. Compete against a plaid-panted opponent during a round of 18 holes. Play unfolds across Pennrose Park's lush, tree-lined fairways, as golfers try to best the course's tricky sand bunkers, water hazards, and fire-breathing german shepherds. Golfers ease the burden of carrying woods and chippers behind the wheel of the country club's golf carts.
Engines roar across a tire-lined track, where single, double, and junior go-karts speed through turns and on toward victory. This is only one of the attractions that greets visitors to The Zone. Baseballs soar across the batting cages' mesh big-top tent, and the mini-golf course dots its baize landscape with obstacles such as miniature barns or tiny warehouses filled with smaller replicas of the mini-golf course. Indoors, video games fill an arcade with a symphony of electronic beeps, while party rooms play host to shindigs with themes such as princesses and activities such as crafts.
While stationed on Long Island to conduct secret war research for the U.S. government during World War II, O. Winston Link started snapping photographs of the Long Island Railroad tracks behind his lab. Eager to capture large-scale railroad pictures at night, he built his own customized flash equipment. After the war, Link harnessed that creative curiosity by spending five years photographing the Norfolk and Western Railway, the last large steam-powered American railroad. From his 20 trips to the railway's tracks in four states, Link collected 2,400 pictures.
His work didn't garner attention until the 1980s, when he published his first collection of railroad photos in the lauded book Steam, Steel & Stars. The West Virginia Historical Society continues to preserve his legacy with the O. Winston Link Museum, which showcases Link's Norfolk and Western project while filling in its historical context. Throughout seven galleries, patrons hear the sounds of bustling locomotive engines, adjust the lighting of an interactive diorama's photograph, and ogle Link's original photographic equipment, including flashbulbs, power boxes, and super power boxes. The museum underscores its edifying galleries with a plentitude of tours, workshops, and ongoing photography programs.
Perched on the banks of Smith Mountain Lake, Bridgewater Marina & Boat Rental launches and lends a variety of lake skimmers to pleasure-seeking pontooners. Peruse and patrol the waters for the elusive Bigfin from atop a four-stroke pontoon boat, whose flat deck area gives a surface for chips and dip and heated canasta competitions. Hedonists, meanwhile, can crank hydroplaning into high gear with a runabout ski-boat rental that—when brought up to speed—can quickly dry hair still soaked with Gatorade from last night's solitaire victory. Bridgewater gives pilots a free safety and instructional orientation before launching them onto the lake, and allows boaters to upgrade one-hour rentals to two hours, or even full days, for an extra fee.
Green Ridge Recreation Center sprawls out over 76,000 square feet, giving muscle-molders, swimmers, and other athletes plenty of room to work up a sweat. The wellness center boasts a 1/8-mile walking track so security guards can practice wandering in circles. Strength-training equipment, free weights, and more than 60 cardiovascular exercise machines build muscle and raise pulses. While they run, exercisers can absorb the view of the surrounding hills or else turn to the personal television screens attached to many of the treadmills and ellipticals in case there are any good shows about hills on. Players pick and roll across two high-school-regulation-sized basketball courts in the air-conditioned gymnasium, which also hosts pickup and free-play volleyball sessions.