Back in…early March, I think, Mr. Porro and I signed up for one of those mud/muck/obstacle course races. It was over the weekend, both Saturday and Sunday. It was about two hours from our house, so we stayed with some friends the night before (in exchange for some pie and legal work…I love having a skill I can gift to people).
We got the full 411 of the race from Courtney and our friend’s mom – we were warned – the woods, they were muddy. We should expect to lose our shoes (particularly those of us who wore our old tri shoes with lace locks); we should try really hard to not fall down. The obstacles ranged from easy to hard to frighteningly dangerous.
So as we made our way to the starting line in matching orange shirts (for high visibility), I still didn’t really understand what was coming. We started into the woods and it seemed like a pretty normal trail run. Eventually, we hit some of the muddy patches, but it was just patches. I thought maybe the 4-6 inches deep mud we had heard about was between the obstacles, because the woods seemed fine. We went through a creek and I remembered our friend’s mom talking about how you had no idea how deep the water was, but they seemed fine.
Then we got to the part where you actually run in the creek. Not through it. In it. For about a half a mile, you run in the creek bed, ankle deep, trying not to fall. At this point, a huge jerk ran up next to me and jumped into a particularly deep part of the water, splashing the rest of us. I knew I was only going to get muddier, but I was still pissed.
Once we were through the creek, we hit the really muddy part. It was feet deep of mud and muck, sometimes up to your knees. Nobody warned me that the mud would smell so disgusting, I would spend half the course trying not to vomit. I wound up losing my shoe during this point, and had to go back and get it. Then I ran for another five minutes before there was high enough ground to pull over and put it back on. The entire rest of the race, I could feel the massive pit of mud under my arch and the rocks in the toes of my shoes. Also, I fell down in the mud at one point, which was unpleasant, and you have to basically claw your way out. Plus, it gets really really really slippery to run thorough that much mud.
Towards the end of the woods was the start of the obstacle course. There was a dark tunnel that we had to crawl through. From my friend’s mom, I knew not to breathe through my nose, since she said this part smelled particularly bad. I wound up crouching through it instead of crawling because the rocks were so rough on my knees. Then we got to what she had described as the hardest part – a series of walls that you had to jump over. Mr. Porro took them with ease, able to jump up onto the top and then down the other side. I took the same approach I do to the boards in hockey – lifted myself up, put my stomach on the boards, and pivoted my hips until I was safely down. For the last two, I had the hang of it and could get over without going horizontal, but it still wasn’t pretty. Or easy, because as soon as you got down the other side, you were wading knee or thigh deep in the mud and trying to run to the next one.
But once we were done with those we were out of the woods! It felt really really good to get out of the dark and smelly woods, and we got to the next obstacle – the rope net. We had to climb up the rope net and down the other side. Mr. Porro and I waited for the people in front of us to be completely over, since we had been warned that otherwise we would get mud in our eyes. We started up together and I tried not to freak out about how high I was getting. Mr. Porro waited for me to make sure I got over safely and coached me through it, and then I made it down the other side and was very happy – since I knew that would be the toughest one for me.
The rest of the obstacles involved running through a hay-bale pile, which would be fine, except you’re covered in mud. As we raced through it, I remember thinking, “this must be what being tarred and feathered feels like.”
We hit the water stop and I used the opportunity to pour water on my face to get the mud out of my eye that had been stuck there since I tripped and fell in the mud. This was a bad plan, since I had no way to wipe off my eyebrows. I had to yell for my husband so I could use the clean-ish inside of his shirt to wipe off my eyebrows and lashes.
The rest of the obstacle course was pretty mild – run through tires, run up a board, run through a tire forest, run up a hill, and then we got to another part we had been warned about – a massive slip-and-slide that was set up on the underside of a motocross bike jump. Somebody had broken their leg on it the day before, and so the race organizers were lining us up in small groups and making sure everyone was cleared, which was good, since I wound up in a pileup anyway. The slip-and-slide was really fun, but also got really out of control and you couldn’t steer yourself or slow yourself down at all.
After the slip and slide were two more obstacles – the fire pit, which turned out to be pretty easy to jump over, but was still nerve-wracking, and the barbed wire mudpit. You were supposed to crawl under the barbed wire, but my wrists couldn’t handle it and my knees couldn’t take the rocks, so I wound up pushing myself off the ground with my feet and then swimming through it.
But then! Then we were DONE! And we headed off to the finish line where there was water in cups and bananas for the champions. I would suggest straws next time, since the participants are still covered in mud. Overall, it was a good race. I would probably do a similar type of race, although maybe not this exact one, again. This one was very far away.
More to come on attire recommendations for future mud races!