2 bras, 2 tanks, black pants, knee socks and an old pair of runners. It’s time to get muddy. This is my beginners look at getting muddy. I am a beginner of everything, an expert of nothing; except trying new things… so I am an expert at being a beginner.
I woke up abruptly to my phone buzzing; a gaggle of excited Mama’s cheering each other on, but secretly I think they knew I needed a wakeup call. I forgot to set an alarm and my dear sweet child chose SATURDAY to sleep in. I jumped up, startled Richard and headed to Thomas’s room… just to double check on him. Once he was settled I kicked it up frantically darting around my sleepy husband.
I hit the kitchen for an oatmeal muffin (Thank you Jillian Michaels for healthy, protein packed oatmeal chocolate chip muffins) and 2 bottles of water before dashing out the door on an adrenaline high.
I got lost (obviously) but quickly found on this foggy Saturday morning with a thunderstorm threatening to rumble through Vanessa and I follow the trail of cars heading to Albion Hills conservation area. She had a large coffee ready for me, sweet caffeine. I’ll take all the help I can get to willingly jump into mud puddles (ok, it doesn’t take much for me to happily jump through puddles… mud or otherwise).
We park and bounce out the car, excited to get going… excited to wait 2 hours for our heat time. The hum of activity carries us past the port-loos, over a bridge and into a thick crowd of clean runners. Thru the masses we see the rest of our group, they are all bibbed and ready to go.
We register… on the French forms, (because there was no line) so who knows what I agreed too, but what was done is done. Now the dreaded wait…
What better way to pass the time, than to drink an Endurance drink that makes your face tingle… and maybe your bum. So I did. It was watermelon and tasted of chemicals. It is supposed to block the lactic acid build up in your muscles to help you run longer. I started buzzing and dancing around… I think there was music, but it might have been all in my head. My friends didn’t say anything; in fact they danced along with me. That’s support people.
And we joked this is my Woodstock, a fuzzy head dancing around in a muddy field.
After a couple photos (Thank you Kev) we made our way to the starting line, I practically skipped and jumped in every mud puddle I could find. I enjoy the irony of the girls that tried to stay clean ON THEIR WAY TO A MUD RACE.
We lined up at the start, with the happiest old guy I have ever seen. Seriously… 60+. I felt a spasm of pride, but that could have been the endurance tingles from my watermelon juice.
We had an incredible hype duo DJ's Breeze & Maxwell Dillan blasted music in our faces and screaming for us to ‘warm-up’, ‘do push-ups, burpee’s and jumping jacks’ to which we obliged. You always do as the microphone’d man tells you. He also gave us the rules, no diving, no head first sliding and no piggy backs (I made that last one up, because the rules are pretty obvious).
Then he loaded up on to the sensor (to track our times) and blasted an air horn.
Vanessa and I start in a sprint, but only until we’re safely in the woods and away from the crowd. We slow to a job through the first ‘obstacle’ which is deep woods running, gravely paths, hills, sand piles. We hit the Frog Spa, ribbit ribbit! This involves slipping into a cool pool of mud and bobbing under beams. It’s the first ‘Yeow’ moment as you splash neck deep into brown water. The worst is trying to escape via a wall of mud, already picked over by the 10:30 heat. I paw at it like a scared cat before Vanessa offers me a hand and hoists me up, a running theme of the day.
Back to running… we’re 10lbs heavier with the mud squished into our shoes, but off we go with a hobble and pop. Still in the woods we job along the heat of the day finally kicking in, sweat and mud mingling in our eyes.
The Over Unders appear. For those unfamiliar… these are 5 foot walls you have to ‘hop’ over and love benches you have to crawl under. Vanessa popped over and yelled for me ‘Come on, Mel!’ I heaved myself on the wall, lost my balance and tumbled over. My first thought was I did it! My second was, did my left leg come with me, or did I leave it at the top? And then finally Fuck me I have to do this again?! I did have to do it again and AGAIN (just wait till I get to the Hero Walls or the Firewall). I do, go over and under FOR THE CAUSE, people.
We’re off and running again. Now things get fuzzy… I have no idea the order of the remaining obstacles, so we’ll summarize them the best we can.
DERBY: It’s my dream for rush hour traffic, a line of cars and you just run over them; hood, roof, trunk. This was hella satisfying.
LIGHT AT THE TUNNELS END: This was ridiculous. Both Vanessa and I jumped in. That’s where it stopped, because the mud was up to our vaginas and our feet wouldn’t move. Vanessa got hauled out, my a muscly hunk. I rocked my way to the end of the pit, but pulled myself out before ducking into the tunnel, which resembled a sewer drain… a FULL sewer drain.
I feel like this is the right opportunity to explain these ‘pits’. They are not dug out. These pits are built, by taking loose soil and piling it high and then filling the middle with water. It means once inside it’s a 4 foot wall of mud, straight up. No elevation, no stairs, steps or handles. The later in the day the trickier your escape.
SPIDER WEB: This is an elastic maze of invisibility. Dozens of strings are wrapped around trees and you’re left to navigate over, under and through. Just don’t snap yourself in the thigh. Ow. Or get the tongue of your shoe caught.
And can we talk about WHERE the mud is at this point? Everywhere… I can feel it sloshing in my panties.
MUDSLIDE: This giant slide is only reachable via climbing wall (freaking walls HAUNT me). Once at the top you jump into a slide, sounds fun until you get to the bottom and duck under the smelliest brownest water yet. I held my nose, but if I turn my head at just the right angle I can still smell it.
Now mud really is everywhere. I can taste it.
WATERWORKS: This comes up twice is a welcome surprise. It’s a fire hose in a tree that cascades the bridge with fresh, clean, not-from-the-bottom-of-anyones-shoe water.
BALANCE BEAM: There were two levels at this seemingly easy obstacle. We went the hard route to make up for the tunnel failure. This is a another pit but strung across are 2 by 4s, and 4 by 2s. I wobbled in the middle and pleaded with my centre of balance, ‘please don’t let me be the schmuck in the water. Carry me through sweet director of equilibrium’
FIREWALL SLIDE: This sounds fun, but it’s not. Involves climbing ANOTHER wall and then sliding playfully down a pole, but your hands are slick with mud, you have no breaks, but your thighs burn as you slip down… especially if you fell over a wall at the beginning of the race.
SUPER HERO CARGO CLIMB: You skitter up an angled cargo net, straddle the top and skitter back down. Only suffering a slight anxiety attack when you throw your leg over the top.
HERO WALLS: These bitches are angled, but not in your favor. Gah! I tried the ‘hard’ and failed, the ‘medium’ and failed… I was able to do the ‘easy’. Damn straight if ‘purse lady’ (yes there was a fully made up woman carrying a purse) could do it, I could.
Then we’re galloping through the woods, always up hill and we see the end. We hear it before we can see it. We run, full out. We’re so close, until we’re not and a particularly steep hill is clogged with walkers. We make it past them and spring through the crowd to the final two obstacles.
KONG: A new obstacle this year (although they are all new to me) is a beast, mainly because of the audience staring at your butt. It’s a wall (yes ANOTHER ONE) with a rope and foot pegs. Using the rope you climb this two-story wall, shimmy or bear crawl (thank you Thomas for teaching me the hands and feet method) across a cargo net before repelling down the other side, with just a rope.
Your feeling of accomplishment fades as you look on to the last obstacle.
MUD CRAWL: the deepest pool yet is tucked under a drooping cargo net. You slip in and swim across (or drag your weary body) and emerge at the last mud pile, but good luck dragging yourself out. Most people end up belly down sliding out, head first into a huge mud pit. Vanessa had to again hoist my mud soaked but out.
That’s it. We celebrate. Just a short SMASH, SLIP, SLIDE, CRASH. I eat dirt at the last turn, pulling Vanessa down with me, but it’s too slippery to get up and I consider crawling across the finish line, but there is Kev with the camera and I get up.
I’m exhausted, battered and bruised.
Vanessa and I completed the course in 1:03:57.
We spent the next hour cheering along the remaining runners, picking dirt out of our curves and discussing the cervices we thought we might find dirt in the privacy of our own bathrooms.
Kim, Lyndi, Dee and Jen triumphantly finished the race at the 2 hour mark. A huge feat considering Kim has her leg in a splint (GO KIM). We cheer them on and collect for pictures.
Later finding out Kim did every obstacle… even the gross tunnels that I didn’t. I feel like a schmuck, but I am proud schmuck so I let her hug me with cold, wet arms.
We all donated our shoes, showered and headed to the car… where I stripped down and tried to find a clean spot. Nope. One does not exist.