Over the weekend a few of my friends from the gym and I did a mud run together. A mud run is typically a 5k run broken up with several different obstacles and/or barriers, many through mud. I’d never done one before so when one of the girls asked me back in March it seemed like a good idea…and really far in the future. May 18th came pretty fast!
Unlike some of the more hardcore mud runs, this was a “girls only” race and the obstacles were fun rather than super-challenging. Example: some of our counterparts were doing the Warrior Dash across town that day and while they were slogging through chest-deep water filled with ice cubes and running the gauntlet through dozens of live wires (!), we were sliding down giant inflatable slides and climbing over 12′ walls that had footholds. Clearly we picked the better race.
We were truly a motley crew. For one of the girls, this was her first ever race of any kind. When she started CrossFit she was overweight and her fitness level was pretty low. Now, several months later, she is lighter, stronger, and a total go-getter. Another friend is one that I’ve run a couple of regular 5k’s with. She’s a regular runner so it’s nice to race with her because I have to try and keep up (which I never do). Another friend is my regular weightlifting partner and the perfect sarcastic yin to my equally sarcastic yang. The last friend truly cracks me up. She is stronger than she ever lets on and has arms that look like steel cables, but she likes to low-ball it whenever she can. I was pretty surprised when she said “yes” to doing this race, but in true form, when we got together that morning she declared that she would run alongside us but would NOT be getting dirty. This worked out pretty well because then we had a designated carrier for the bag that held all of the stuff we were too scared to check - like our phones and ID’s.
Between you and me, I think our team as a whole was way too jaded for an event like this. Other groups were in colorful tutus and matching socks - we were in all black - half by pure chance and half by pure nature. Other groups were squealing and cheering and high-fiving one another - we were already discussing where we’d eat lunch when it was all over. Other groups got totally into the group warm-up - we stood around grousing about how they should just yell “Start!” already! It was the Sisterhood of the Grumbling Rants.
Two seconds into the race there was a huge mud pit. We all agreed that was too much too soon, so while the other ladies gleefully slogged through the muck, we minced our way around it. A few yards later was an obstacle that required you to go under a tarp, climb through a dark, muddy tunnel and emerge on the other side. ”No way,” we all concurred. A quarter of the race down and we were all still squeaky clean.
The race itself was staged on a racecourse that typically runs horses, so a few of the running legs of the race involved threading through the back alleys of horse stalls and equipment storage; so while hoards of women streaked past us in all their sodden glory, we took time out for pictures like this:
Check out my friend on the left — the designated bag carrier. I was in stitches because on the occasions when she did run, with her stylishly floppy hat and bag in hand, she looked exactly like a tourist running to catch a bus to the Mayan ruins. Either than or like someone who just stole a purse off a poolside deck chair. At the 3/4 point of the race we found ourselves practically next to the parking lot and that’s where she handed over the bag and said, “I’m done.” Hysterically, she just kept running like she was in the race, but merely hopped the barrier and continued on. The security guys kind of scratched their heads as they watched her bail out, but just like that she was back to her car and off to enjoy the rest of her day.
At one point a friend and I decided to go along with the spirit of the race and climb up the gigantic inflatable slide. It looked just like one of those that you rent for a kids’ party so we figured it would be no big deal. It wasn’t until we were at the very top - the point of no return - that we realized there was a gigantic muddy puddle at the bottom. Oops. With nowhere to go but down, we sucked it up and slid. Thankfully it was more wet than muddy, but we were soggy just the same.
The one thing I did realize during this race is that I’m really good at climbing stuff and getting through obstacles. I have no idea how, when or where this skill will ever come in handy, but I can get to the top of a rope web, through a bungee maze, across a rickety balance beam and over a wooden wall like nobody’s business. I’m pretty sure that I could even dominate that wobbly ladder game at Six Flags. Giant stuffed animal, here I come!
Towards the end, when I started realizing how squeaky clean we all looked in comparison to our race mates, I did feel kind of like a spoilsport, so my water slide friend and I sucked it up and mucked it up. The last obstacle before the finish line was a gigantic mud swamp. The idea was that you were supposed to army crawl through the whole thing, but my friend and I decided that walkingthrough was good enough for us.
As we approached the mud a group of girls who had already finished stood there and tried to goad us into getting dirty. ”You’re too clean!” they yelled. ”Get in there and get dirty,” they encouraged. ”Don’t wimp out!” they screamed. ”They” were a group of girls no more than 15 years old. Pffft. Let’s see if they’re all that enthusiastic about mud when they are in charge of doing the laundry, Even though we thought that walking through the mud would be better than crawling, we didn’t anticipate the fact that the pit was dug with deceptively deep holes intermittently throughout. One minute you were ankle deep on firm ground and the next, you were up to your crotch in muck and desperately trying to keep hold of your shoe while you extracted your foot from what felt like the hose of a muddy Hoover vacuum.
Here’s me discovering one of those four-foot holes and praying that a plastic bunting would be enough to hold me up!
We made it out…just muddy enough.