Holy hell, now that was an experience. On this past Sunday, I participated in my first mud run. The Merrell Down &Dirty Mud Run Series made it’s way to Philadelphia and I was there with approx. 20 friends to take in all the muddy action. For those of you who are not as familiar with the term, a mud run is an organized race that combines the typical foot race with a military style obstacle course. The race my friends and I were signed up for was a 5K, with about 10 obstacles mixed into the 3 miles. Examples of the obstacles are mud pits (3 foot deep pits filled with thick muddy water-think the consistency of milkshake…a chocolate milkshake) , in addition to the mud, there is ladder walls to climb over (think the first half hour of Full Metal Jacket), tunnels to crawl through, nets to crawl under, and a big ass 25′ tall inflatable rope ladder slide thing that was a ton of fun. So people sign up by the thousands (literally) to run through all this, get completely, disgustingly covered in mud, and generally beat the shit out of themselves. (myself included)
So here we go. Sunday morning comes, I meet up with two of my buddies Bo and Danny B (the same Danny who made a few appearances in the blog previously). We roll down and get set up. Meet up with my sister and parents, and let the wide and varied grouping of my assembled team roll in. It was a varied mix, some family in the form of my sister and cousin, a co-worker and the peeps that came with her, and a whole bunch of friends from all over, some close friends, some new (friends of friends) and even a reunion with a really old friend 15 or so years in the making.- you’re just as awesome as I remember Jana.
We all get down there, hooked up and organized. The “before” pictures are taken, which can also be referred to as the “clean” pictures. We’re all excited, anxious, and blissfully unaware of the course that lay ahead of us. 9:30 comes, and its time to line up in the corrals and get ready to run. So we line up in one of the slowest expected pace sections, all the way in the back. Yes we were in the 12 min mile section, no I don’t care. Go ahead, try and talk trashing that, because unless you were doing this race on Sunday, we were all more hardcore than you were, my friend. So the emcee guy gets on the loudspeaker and gets everybody all hyped up, the gun goes off, and… nothing. We move up to the next corral. We wait 4 minutes, the guy gets on again, the group in front gets all hyped up, and off they go…and we move up another 20 feet or so. Repeat this process about 15 or so more times until we finally make our way to the front. The bad news is that we have been waiting in the queue for almost an hour, the good news is that we are so spaced out that nobody is all over each other, there are minimal lines at any of the obstacles, and it almost has the feel that we have the course to ourselves. Once we finally get to the front of the line, the gun goes off and things start off with an uphill run. Seriously, what sadistic prick starts the race off with an uphill run? At any rate, about a third of a mile in comes the first obstacle, and it’s at this point that people start settling into their own pace and the crowd starts really thinning out a bit. It was nice, I could see team members in front and behind of me, and we all still somewhat together, but all running our own race at the same time. I’ll save you the blow by blow of every obstacle on the racecourse, but I do want to share some of the highlights for me. The first obstacle we came to after the ladder wall was one of those high points, it was a 25′ tall inflatable obstacle, with a giant rope ladder on one side and a giant slide on the other. It was SO much fun to climb up this thing and slide down it. I want to rent one and throw a party. The next and one of the most obvious obstacles I want to mention was the first mud pit. Admittedly, I tried to play it cool up until the few seconds as I was walking up to it. At that point, I knew it was inevitable, so I I just slid on down the embankment and I to the muck I went. All of a sudden, Mr. Cool Andy is the guy who is sitting the going “oh my god” as 90% of my body hit the cold, surprisingly watery mud all at the same time. (actually, the cold felt good since it was in the 90’s, humid as hell, and I was sweating like a pig since before we even began the race). I did expect mud, what I did not expect was how watery the mud was, or that nice bed of loose gravel that made up the bottom of the mud pit. I guess I just expected, you know, more mud. Not rocks. Let me tell you, that gravel, when you not expecting it, and when you are diving into mud that does not quite slow you down as much you expect it to, feels awesome you your hands and knees drive into it. Please note the intentional sarcasam on this point. All the other obstacles were pretty much what I anticipated, With the exception of the rock wall. This was literally the first time I have ever even attempted to try and get over one of these things. And I get to make my first time even more special by having the added bonus of an extra 10-15 pounds of mud on my clothes (this is not an exaggeration), and a diminished grip on both my and and feet because of caked mud on both. And yes, they had 3 sections varying In difficulty, but I took the easy section and made it my bitch. This was the one obstacle that I saw on the website and immediately said “oh, I’m walking around that one. There is no way I am climbing an 8′ rock wall. I’ll fall and crack my frickin skull open”. Booyaa. I climbed an 8′ rock wall. Yet another thing that I can cross off the list of shit I never imagined I’d ever be able to do. One more enormous mud pit to go through, this one gets you REALLY muddy, and then you cross the finish line. It was an awesome feeling. Wet and having sheets of mud falling off me, but awesome nonetheless.
So a few takeaways/ observations that I have from my first mud run experience: first and foremost, these things are always easier with a buddy. And while I had a whole team (that was the point, so we could all be there to help each other out as we needed it), there was one teammate in particular I wanted to throw a thanks out to, and she is my friend Rock. I met rock way back when I would drive up to Bloomsburg Univ. in central Pa to visit Jenn at school when we first started dating. Come to think of it, Bloom had a really solid showing at the mud run, Rock, Jenny B, Tara are all Bloom alums and former roommates… But I digress. Rock was always a badass an super fit. Becuse of ths, I have always kind of viewed her a measuring stick, so to speak. As in, “sure, you’re in shape, but are you in ‘Rock Shape’?” the reason why this is significant, and the reason for the special thanks are due is because guess who ran pretty much the entire 3.1 miles side by side with me? Oh yeah, it was Rock. I am actually really happy to report that we are becoming something of race partners, we have a 10K scheduled together in October and then the Philly Half Marathon together in November. Thanks so much Rock, you kick major ass and I was so glad we got to do this together. Those races in the fall are going to be a lot of fun. (and I just want to reiterate one more time, kept up with Rock for the whole race. Yeah, I’m a badass). One other observation is that going in, I anticipated the running to be the easy part, and the obstacles to be the part of the race that gave me problems. It turned out to be the exact opposite. Maybe I underestimated what kind of shape I was in and my ability to complete the obstacles a bit, and I also clearly underestimated the difficulty of running uphill on an offroad track while literally covered in mud. The running kicked my ass, but I had Rock there to push me and we rocked it.
Everyone on my team finished the course and had a great time. It was an excellent experience and I will definitely be doing it next year (maybe I will forget how sore I was the day after by the time it rolls around again next year)
So to sum up, the race was a lot of fun, we all lost our “mud run virgin” status at the same time, and banded together as a team to complete a surprisingly difficult but also surprisingly rewarding race this Sunday. Can’t wait till next year when we can do it again.
Below, you will see the “before” pic of the whole team, one of the core crew that ran with me, and then an after of the same core crew. A pic of me getting over the dreaded rock wall, a before and after of my sister and I together, and one of Rock and I just as we came out the final mud pit. (yes, we stopped to snap a picture…as you might imagine, our time was not the highest priority in the race…by the way, to give you an idea of how thick the mud really was, look at our feet…it was just ankle deep mud from dripping off everybody as they came out of the mud pit)
Thanks for reading this long post and until next week, have a good one..