So, I had never done a mud run before. In fact, I had been rather befuddled about what all the hoopla was about. It's not that I am prissy, well, too prissy, I don't think. But there is just something about the idea of rolling around like a piglet in the mud, getting dirty, and actually finding that all a good thing that just hasn't meshed in my mind. With this particular event, though, the right combination of things happened to finally tip me over the edge of good sense and down the slippery, muddy slope of a mud run.
|Loved the signs everywhere, reminding us what the|
real reason for this run was.
Race day morning started out rather luxuriously, as I was able to wake up at a normal time. Seriously, if you have done enough races, then you know that one of the common factors in most of them is that they seem to always have you getting up at the butt crack of dawn to make it to the start on time. Not this one, at least not for me. Our wave wasn't scheduled to run until 11:40 a.m. I was already liking this whole thing.
The biggest challenge of the morning, however, proved to be deciding how to dress. I knew the race was encouraging costumes, but since A. and I didn't get on the ball with that, we were going in plain old regular mud running attire - um, yeah, whatever that is. Other than that friends had told me to wear stuff I didn't mind getting ruined, I really didn't know what to pull out of my closet. Finally, I ended up with my least favorite pair of running tights, a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt and a short-sleeved cotton t-shirt, layered - both pulled out of the Goodwill/potential trash pile on my closet floor. For fun, I pulled out both pairs of kickass socks I had received to review from ProudRunner.com (the review is coming SOON, I promise!): my knee-high Bad Ass socks with the arrows pointing towards my butt and the hot pink "Hottie" ankle socks. It's not that I wanted to throw these gems away, anything but! I just thought I should dress up my otherwise boring outfit. In the potential land of costumes, I wanted to pop somehow.
So, all dressed, it was time to decide which shoes I would sacrifice to the mud gods. I had been told that - while I may be able to salvage my clothes after the run - I should assume the shoes would be a complete loss. That in mind, on the way out the door I decided to grab my old Nike Pegasus, which had been retired to my lawn mowing shoes this past summer. I figured they could go on to their next life if need be.
A. and I showed up at the nature center about an hour before our scheduled start. For parking we were directed to a field down the road from the nature center. Packet pickup was a breeze, as the tent was located in the parking lot - easy to drop stuff off at your car if you needed to. The volunteers were very helpful, but I didn't understand why they wrote my race number on my hand with a sharpie. (Understanding came later when I almost tore my race bib off going through an obstacle.) In our packets, we got a cotton long-sleeved royal purple t-shirt, a princess crown, a purple towel, and a couple of other happys along with a ton of coupons and literature for various organizations.
The walk to the nature center was entertaining. Watching the previous waves' participants stream past in various states of muddiness provided us with a glimpse of what awaited us. One gentleman was covered literally head to toe in mud. For our own peace of mind, we determined he must have done that on purpose. Right? Also not to be overlooked was the fact that indeed a lot of people had opted for costumes: many iterations on the princess theme, fairies, superheroes. You name it, it was there.
|I felt lame compared to some of the others who really|
dressed up for the occasion! Next time!
Finally it was time to head to the start. We took a quick before picture, crammed our drop bags with our clean clothes along with our goodie bags into the huge plastic garbage bags they provided, and handed them over to the volunteers at the gear drop. Bananas were available to grab at the gear drop, but I had just eaten an Ezekiel English muffin, so I passed.
|The official before picture. This is what I look like|
in throw-away clothes.
|The approach to the start area. Obstacle #1 - the Hill - is|
off to the left.
|Start corral right after a wave took off.|
For the most part, though, A. and I did run the whole 5K. A lot of folks didn't - which is why I do believe the majority of participants were not folks you would see at your average 5K. I could be wrong, but I think more people were in it for the obstacles and/or just the craziness of the whole idea.
So, what kind of obstacles were there? Well, after the hill, our first real muddy obstacle was a series of buckets half-filled with mud that you had to step through. I joked that they were just trying to get our feet wet. Pretty soon though I realized this was no joke. I could barely get through them! I didn't realize that mud had such sucking power, but it apparently does. I didn't lose my shoes, but I almost did. It took all the foot power I had to pull my feet with shoes out of those buckets. I could understand now why some people had duck taped their shoes closed before the event - obviously that helps keep the shoes on. Ahhh, live and learn. Anyway, exiting the buckets and starting to run was a treat, especially since now my feet felt like they weighed two tons.
Other muddy adventures we had along the way included crawling through pipes filled with mud, army crawling under ropes through mud, and last but not least crawling under a cargo net through mud. That last one was the second-to-last obstacle and - given how low the net was - I can only assume the idea was that if you had somehow avoided getting too muddy up to that point, that was about to change. Other obstacles included steeplechasing over logs, climbing an 8-foot wall, climbing over hay bales, and slip-sliding down a pumpkin-gut-and-water slide. That one was my favorite. In fact, I would have done it again if I could have. Weeeeeeeeeeee! Some of the obstacles were not that exciting - like weaving through tire trees and having volunteers throw flour (I believe) on us. That just seemed like gratuitous dirtying to me. And, then there was the swamp, which I believe they had technical difficulties with. If it had worked, we would have wended our way through an ankle deep swampy morass, but somehow it didn't pan out. I bet they fix that glitch for next year.
|My favorite obstacle - No Guts, No Glory....|
|...otherwise known as the pumpkin guts water slide!|
All in all, I have to say - in an amazed, almost-can't-believe-it-myself way - that I enjoyed this messy experience, and I would definitely do it again - although not on my own. This to me is definitely a friend/team shared experience. My understanding is that there are different degrees of mud run craziness. I know my other friend A. put on a mud run this year that sounded good too. While the run didn't sound quite as challenging, the obstacles sounded far more difficult. Maybe something to try in the future.
After the race, we gathered our drop bags and rinsed off hands and arms in the homemade showers that had been set up for the event. It was too cold for me to do anything more. We then headed to the changing tents to finally get out of our nasty, wet clothes. I opted to throw out my shirts and shoes, but I saved my socks and tights. (Bagging them up, I was amazed at how heavy they were!) I have heard that some races have spots where you can donate your shoes, but if this race did that I couldn't find it. So, into the dumpster everything went.
Food at the end of the run included bananas, bagels, water and princess cookies. Also, a full Snickers bar in my goodie bag was welcome too. On hand to buy were brownies, apples and caramel, and "runaway" tacos - a bag of Fritos topped with taco fixings, as well as some other things. I got the brownie and some coffee, and that tasted wonderful after the cold run.
Seeing as this was an inaugural event, I didn't really know what to expect from the race organization standpoint. I needn't have worried. Even with over 1,300 people registered, the event ran smoothly as far as I could tell. I would certainly consider doing it again next year, if for no other reason than I would be curious to see if they change anything. And, let's not forget, it is for a great cause. So, the plan is if there is time and anyone wants to do this again, then I will sign up too - and cross my fingers and hope for warmer weather.
|Happily ever after picture.|