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story.lead_photo.caption Jilian Moseley, 9, goes through the mud crawl, one of the many obstacles Saturday during the Catch Me If You Can Fun Run and Obstacle Course. Jilian's mom, Crystal Moseley, also took her turn during the Prison Break race at Ellis-Porter Riverside Park. Photo by Linda Schaben

On a cool Saturday morning, more than 450 fake prisoners escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.

The eighth annual Prison Break event put on by the Jefferson City Convention Bureau Athletic Events Committee saw a record number of participants despite a rainy forecast.

CVB Executive Director Diane Gillespie said she was shocked at the attendance.

Teams and individuals traveled from around the state — some dressing up in black and white stripes and orange to fit the theme.

"The comments have been wonderful," Gillespie said. "Everyone has enjoyed it and said they're gonna come back and bring more people with them next year."

Before racers took off from MSP's lower parking lot, a skit performance by the Graybell Performers set the mood.

"Welcome back to prison dirt bags," a performer dressed as a guard said.

Brian Bellof, of Kansas City, said the skit is their way of supporting the history of the prison.

As the sirens wailed, racers went fleeing from the prison walls.

Regular attendees said they felt a difference in the event without taking away from the total experience. Parts of the MSP property were damaged by the May 22 tornado.

At previous races, groups were able to tour one of the buildings during registration time. This year, registration took place at the lower lot. However, racers were able to see the on-site gas chambers Saturday.

"We were kind of bummed that we couldn't go around the penitentiary a lot more," Bellof said. "We used to do a tour of the cells and the solitary confinement, but unfortunately we're not able to do that right now."

Jefferson City resident Christina Morian said the tours were actually quite creepy. She's run the race all eight years and said she comes back for the new challenges.

More than 15 obstacles throughout the 4-mile course were stationed at Ellis-Porter Riverside Park. Participants crawled through mud pits, climbed walls and hopped over logs.

Volunteers, family members and loved ones cheered at every stop along the way.

A perfect finish line of Prison Brews allowed participants and supporters to relax and feast after their escape.

Covered in grass and dirt, Crystal Moseley and Carol Galbraith, both of Jefferson City, were glad they joined the event this year. They considered themselves active, however, they do not think they would successfully escape from prison.

"The slip 'n' slide was the best part," Moseley said.

The duo admitted they went down the slide twice.

Although some participants said they regularly train for marathons, the group "Sexy Mudder Fockers" did no such thing. The group of friends from Eldon and Eugene — Aaron Sandbothe, Layne Davis, Georgia Witt and Mariah Stark — needed to catch their breath coming out of the giant mud pit.

Between a few workouts, Stark said they ate a lot of Mexican and drank a lot of margaritas. Nevertheless, they enjoyed themselves and know they will feel the burn tomorrow.

The race was a birthday gift to Gilbert Blackburn who wanted to do something he'd never done before. Before racers took off, they sang happy birthday to the 67-year-old racer. He ran with his niece, Shanon Murray, of Columbia.

More than 200 youth, ages 6-17, ran similar obstacles at the Catch Me If You Can Run and Obstacle Course later Saturday morning in the park. Kiddie pools full of a gooey substance, large tire walls and more mud created the 1.5-mile course.

A sister group from Russellville —Audra Whittle, Erin Whittle, Karleigh Grayson and Juliet Grayson — said they were excited for their first time going through an obstacle course. Some were ready to get dirty while others planned to skip the mud pits.

Proceeds from the races went toward assisting outside sporting events coming to Jefferson City and Jefferson City Parks and Recreation youth scholarship program and the special population program.

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