Another running post already? Well, it is the season for races, so yes. And with more to come.
But this post isn’t just about a race. It’s about a 4-mile slosh through mud, through water, through briar patches, down slides, under logs, over walls, and you get the idea. Oh, and I almost had to do this race without pants. More on that shortly.
I ran the Big Nasty Mud Run a couple of weeks ago as part of Team Muckrakers with Raymond, Andreas and Rob. My husband and my parents think I’m crazy, and maybe so – it’s hard to explain why I’d want to get covered in mud and run through obstacles. But for me, there’s something liberating about acting so childish and yet challenging myself at the same time. In college, I secretly wanted to be on that MTV show Road Rules where a group of kids travel around in an RV completing various obstacles (minus the ensuing drama). So this was my chance.
And thankfully, I was running with a group of people who didn’t view it so much as a competition but as a chance to play.
Never having done anything remotely like this before, I didn’t know what to expect. We listened to advice from veterans and wrapped our old running shoes in duct tape to keep them from getting sucked off our feet in the mud pits. I didn’t want to ruin any of my nice running clothes, so I bought some light cotton capris on clearance and paired them with an old cotton tank top.
When the horn sounded for our wave to begin, our first task was to run up a dirt hill, down the other side and into our first mud pit. I did have a moment of hesitation as we approached that pit, a moment when the adult in me said “What are you thinking? You are clean! That is mud! Run away! Run away!” But in I jumped. I crawled through on my belly, and as I reached the other side, my first thought was:
Do you know what cotton does in mud? It swells and soaks up every bit of that mud and water.
As I came up out of the mud, I first felt my shirt grow about 5 sizes and begin hanging precariously low on me. “Ok,” I thought, “That’s why I’m wearing a sports bra underneath.” But then I stood up and my cotton capris grew about 8 sizes and began to literally fall off. My team was already ahead of me beginning to run to the next obstacle, so I just grabbed on to my waistband with both hands and started (ineffectively) running. When I caught up to them, I explained my situation. How on EARTH was I going to run 4 miles while holding my pants? And what on EARTH was I going to do when I actually needed those hands to complete an obstacle? Completing the race with no pants was not on my agenda.
Andreas came to the rescue with some quick-thinking resourcefulness. The trail was littered with duct tape discarded by previous runners. He snagged some and fashioned a duct tape belt around my pants. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked! I also found that it was easier to run if I pulled my pant legs up so the fabric wouldn’t swing so heavily. So off we went to the next obstacle, with my pants duct-taped to my body, my pant legs pulled up so that it looked like I was running in a big muddy diaper.
Where oh where were the race photographers?
Some of the obstacles were a lot of fun, like a waterslide into a pond. We crawled through tunnels, under logs, through trenches of mud with sink holes ready to plunge you chest-deep. The only obstacle that actually scared me was a 30-foot ladder wall. I wasn’t scared initially and scrambled up one side, but the top of that wall was covered in slick mud. As I prepared to throw a leg over so I could crawl down the other side, I desperately wished for a harness. But I just held on tight and thankfully made it down safely.
The next-to-last obstacle was the one I’d been dreading. It was a slanted wooden wall that you had to scale by pulling yourself up with a rope. I have zero arm strength, so this obstacle would have been tough for me
in the best conditions. But this wall was now covered in the mud of the
runners before me, and made so much more slippery.
I watched Raymond go over. Then Rob. I decided to go next. I grabbed the rope and started scrambling, but when I got to the top I felt no traction under my shoes. This was the moment I needed to reach for the top of the wall, the moment when I’d seen so many people slide back down. I felt that coming. I think I even said out loud, “This isn’t happening.”
Then I heard Andreas start yelling, “You will NOT let go of that rope! Don’t you DARE let go of that rope!” At the same time, Raymond and Rob had their arms stretched out, ready to help me over the top. I reached for them, and I did it! I made it over the top on the very first try! I was elated.
The race was challenging, but the race was fun. Sure, my q-tips were still finding mud in my ears more than a week post-race, but I’d do it all over again.
In fact, I am doing it all over again. Next weekend. A different race with a different team, and most surely with different attire. But it’ll still be me vs. mud!
I got a little bit of video of some of the earlier waves of our race, and a friend also snagged some pics of our team on the Over/Under logs. I put it all together in this little homage to Team Muckrakers.