Loop the ’Lupe event brings parish, community together with muddy fun

  • Written by Brian LeBlanc
  • Published in Local
The mud pit crawl is among the challenges offered by the Loop the ’Lupe obstacle course race, which raises money for the Walmesley Center at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Seattle. Photo: Jared Loranger/Fizz Events The mud pit crawl is among the challenges offered by the Loop the ’Lupe obstacle course race, which raises money for the Walmesley Center at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Seattle. Photo: Jared Loranger/Fizz Events

SEATTLE – On June 8, members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish will join with their neighbors to run, walk, saunter, and even slog through mud on an obstacle course.

The Loop the ’Lupe event was started by parishioners three years ago as a way to help OLG pay off the debt on its parish center, which opened in 2012.

“The parishioners came together and wanted to do something about the debt and get out in the community,” said Helen Oesterle, OLG’s pastoral associate.

“We wanted to introduce people [in the surrounding community] to the giving, welcoming, fun-loving, family-oriented people we are,” said parishioner Brian Callanan, who organizes the event with the help of 70 volunteers. (Callanan might be familiar for his media career; he’s now a host/producer for the Seattle Channel.)

Held at the city’s 11-acre Walt Hundley Playfield across the street from the parish, Loop the ’Lupe (short for Guadalupe) has quickly grown in popularity. The event drew 300 participants the first year and more than 500 are expected this year, Callanan said. It features a 5K obstacle course race, a 5K family fun run/walk and shorter events for kids and seniors. An after-race party features barbecue prepared by the Knights of Columbus, musical entertainment and a beer garden.

“It’s amazing to see the transformation of the park,” said Father Jack Walmesley, OLG’s longtime pastor, who is retiring at the end of June.

The event, he added, is “a community builder for the parish and a good outreach.”

Raising money to help the community

Loop the ’Lupe benefits the parish’s Walmesley Center (named for the pastor), which hosts athletics and social outreach events for parishioners and the surrounding community.

The event has raised a combined $20,000 in its first two years. The parish paid off the center’s debt earlier this year, so now the annual event is raising funds for annual maintenance and upkeep of the center. That allows the parish to direct more of its regular budget into funding outreach ministries, Oesterle explained.

According to the Loop the ’Lupe website, since Walmesley Center opened in 2012, it has hosted more than:

- 24,000 kids and families participating in community athletic programs
- 10,000 people partaking of a free monthly community meal
- 1,000 participants in blood drives, flu shot clinics and presentations on social justice issues

The center has also welcomed thousands of kids and families for vacation Bible camp, weddings, cultural events and other activities. In 2015, after a suspicious fire at the nearby High Point Mosque Community, the parish center opened its doors for the mosque’s prayer services. And, according to the OLG website, as part of its stewardship and outreach efforts, the parish offers its facilities, free of charge whenever possible, to “nonprofit organizations that work with underserved and/or marginalized people.”

Family-friendly fun

Loop the ’Lupe features a hilly, 1-kilometer course looping the park’s perimeter. The obstacle course, the most popular event, includes mud-crawling, wall climbing, ropes and “squirt gun alley,” where Father Walmesley has joined in squirting the racers. “It was fun — I was redoing their baptism,” he joked.

A mud-free experience is available in the 5K family fun run/walk. Some participants come dressed up for the costume contest.

For kids 8 and under (with parental help), there’s a 1K Youth Dash around the course, featuring nearly all the same obstacles as the adult course. Older “kids” can participate in the Senior Saunter, a separate obstacle-free course around the park’s soccer field for those 65 and older.

Loop the ’Lupe “is family-friendly and anyone from the church and community can do it,” said Jared Loranger of Fizz Events, who is helping produce the event.

One of last year’s Senior Saunter participants, using her walker, was Tacoma Dominican Sister Eileen Mary Walsh, an OLG parishioner who lives at the nearby St. Joseph Residence for retired sisters.

“I think the race is about building community and helping the Walmesley Center to keep going,” she said.

Loop the ’Lupe details

When: Saturday, June 8

Where: Walt Hundley Playfield, 6920 34th Ave. S.W., Seattle


11 a.m. – 5K obstacle course

11:45 a.m. – 5K family fun run/walk

12:15 p.m. – 1K Senior Saunter (ages 65-plus)

1 p.m. – 1K Youth Dash (ages 8 and under)

Register here.

Watch a video of last year’s fun.