Remember when you were kid and climbing over fences or jumping around in mud puddles was completely expected (although not always acceptable) behavior?
Well I, don’t. I never really did any of that stuff. My parents weren’t overprotective and I wasn’t a girlie-girl or anything like that. I just didn’t like having dirt on me. I still don’t like walking around barefoot because I hate the feeling of dirt under my feet. But now I am definitely not afraid to get dirty. Quite the opposite. I am a firm believer that if you don’t end up at least a little messy after crafts/cooking/sports/etc, then you are doing it wrong. I use my pants to wipe the flour off my hands in the kitchen. I use the back of my leg to get the last bit of water off my paintbrush. And this past weekend I ran a 4.5 mile obstacle course- in the MUD!!
To be precise, I ran the Spartan Sprint.
This was not my first mud run. It was my third. My first was the Rugged Maniac in Englishtown, NJ in July. Then I did the Warrior Dash in Windham, NY in August. I did each of these in about an hour. I was feeling really good about myself, but still hoped to improve my time at the next race…
…Only that race was the Spartan. The Spartan Sprint is probably the toughest “5K” obstacle course in the country. I put 5K in quotes because it was soooo totally not 5 kilometers. When I signed up for the thing it was 5 kilometers, but a few weeks prior to the race they send a message asking for more volunteers to be on the course because it was shaping up to be 4.5 miles. Not everyone is good with English/metric conversion so I’ll do the math for you: 7.24 kilometers. Not cool. But me and my group had been running 4 miles during training so how bad could it be to add another half mile?
This ski slope was higher and steeper than at the Warrior Dash. The photo above is only the very tippy top of it (where the below-mentioned Bucket Brigade obstacle is.) Most of it was rocky terrain in direct sunlight = HOT. I had to stop at least a half dozen times along the way. Every time I got to a crest that I thought was the top, I’d turn the corner around patch of trees and there would be more signs pointing up another section of mountain. If I didn’t have my husband and friends, I probably would have stopped and rolled my tired arse back down the mountain. Although I must say I held out longer before my first rest break than some other people who stopped almost as soon as we hit the incline. It was 2.5 miles before I reached the top and saw the beauty that was the one and only water station. And when I got to the top and reveled in the joy that the rest would have to be downhill, I was greeted with the infamous Bucket Brigade.
I was expecting this obstacle. You grab a big 5 gallon bucket and go to a giant pile of rocks. You fill up your bucket with said rocks- 3/4 full for the men, 1/2 full for the ladies. You then run down a hill carrying it, then turn right back around and bring your bucket of rocks back up the hill to the pile of rocks. I practiced this with a 35lb kettle-bell. I did not practice enough. The section of mountain that we had to do this on was even steeper than we had just climbed and now I had a giant weight trying to pull me down. But I did it.
There were 12 different obstacles in all, including but not limited to: monkey bars (which I failed); scaling 10 foot walls; a spear toss (which I failed- and did I mention that any failure earned you 30 burpees? No? It did. I did 120 burpees on top of everything else); trudging through an ice cold, murky lake; dragging a cinder-block down a muddy embankment, through a lake and back up the embankment; using a pulley to lift another block up about 25 feet and then slowly letting it back down; and the evilly muddy barbed wire crawls.
Hard to tell from the pic, but these wires are, oh, 8 inches off the thick, sticky, manure-scented mud. Not only did the mud stink like X’s diapers after he gets too much prune juice, but it was filled with rocks and bits of tree bark and all sorts of things that hurt when you drag your body through it. Nope, army crawl was not going to work this time as it had in my previous runs. We all had to roll through the muck, ensuring that every last bit of skin and clothes were coated in the brown stuff. After what felt like a football field distance. It was over. There was another wall to climb. We all jumped down and a collective “What the *******BLEEEEEP******!!!!” was heard. There was an identical field of barbs and mud! Yay!
But it didn’t stop us. The Greeks said, “Come back with your shield – or on it.” Well, here is me WITH my shield!
I washed my hair twice that night, only to find gravel in it when I went to comb it out. It took 2 more shampoos to get my hair clean. It took a hosing, a power washing, and 2 wash cycles to clean our clothes and I still found grass and gravel in the lint trap.
Me and my crew finished in about 2 hours and 45 minutes. The fastest time of the day was accomplished by the legendary Hobie Call. He finished in 50 minutes- 10 minutes longer that the race-builders anticipated the fastest time to be. They thought the slowest time would be 2.5 hours. It turned out to be 4 hours! I think they grossly underestimated their trail design.
It was a killer. I am still in some pain. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I am totally doing it again next year. Anyone care to join me?