October is jam-friggin-packed this year. FIVE races are going to somehow fit into 31 brisk, fall days. [And while on that topic, Mother Nature- can we please keep October in the realm of fall? That snowstorm you flung at us right at Halloween time a couple years back was a severely uncool move on your part and I’d appreciate it if you can keep that shit to the post-Thanksgiving time period. Thanks a bunch!]
My month of race-insanity began on Sunday with the Merrell Down and Dirty 6 Miler. I hadn’t done this particular event since my very first year as an OCR junkie- 2011. At that time, even for a newb like me, it was a pretty easy-peasy races. The obstacles were barely obstacles at all- walls, slippery wall, tubes thrown on the ground as tunnels, etc. For this year, I kept seeing picture of really fun-looking courses from Merrell. The obstacles looked they were being built well and they were picking up tips from other races for different kinds of obstacles. Maybe I’d try it again. A deep Groupon discount in my emailbox clinched the deal.
8AM Sunday morning, we just barely made it to the 6 Mile starting line.
Didn’t even have time to stop at the plethora of portapotties before starting. If I remember correctly, I didn’t get to pee before the first one I did and had to swing pass them when we ran near the festival area during the race. Sigh. But the hubs and I did have the time to have someone snap a before shot of us.
The course seemed follow the same route as in 2011, running along the boardwalk an then heading off into the woods.
The first obstacle was either the Ladder Walls or the Balance Beams. I’m not sure which because I relied on the camera to tell me what came first and Jay missed getting a shot of the ladder walls. The balance beams had a step up and a step down, but they didn’t wobble too much, so they weren’t too hard. There were also volunteers there to help you if you needed it. I think the guy helped me for the step up.
After a jaunt through the woods and back out alongside the bike were the Terrible Tires. In relatively quick succession came:On the other side of this inflatable cargo climb was a slide. I chickened out of the slide and climbed back down. Yeah. Seriously. I chickened out of a fucking slide. I don’t know what was going on inside my little brain- maybe it was remembering all the women I’ve seen get hurt on this thing at Dirty Girl- but it just wanted me to skip it. I listened to my instinct, but am seriously beating myself up for it. It was at this point that we passed by the spectator area- and the portapotties. Guess who made a pit stop. Again. Yep. Another obstacle not included in the count: Eleventy-hundred spectators picnicking in the park. You know what’s really tempting when you are running a 10K in 45º weather on half a PB&J? Knocking over the woman wrapped in a blanket eating a donut to take her blankie and nom noms. We headed out of the park proper at this point and back into the woods were I found the dinkiest sandbag carry ever. See the end of the little flags behind the sandbag pile? That was how far we had to carry the darned thing. I’m not looking for a half mile climb up a black diamond slope with 60lbs on my back, but Jesus Krispies, I think it took longer to pick up the bag than to actually haul it.
Somewhere in here were also some Original Hurdles (shorter walls) and an obstacle called Give Me 20 that was literally just dropping and giving the Military man 20 push-ups.
Then came a few very new obstacles to me.You had to climb up the pole side of this obstacle using the little pipe joint bits as footholds, then climb down the cargo net on top. I thought it was pretty cool, although an old hip injury went ahead and seized my leg up in the middle of climbing up the poles. I had to just stand there for a few until it loosened back up enough to allow me to complete the climb. Ropes across the top, ropes across the bottom, walk/swing your way across. I had to stretch my 5′ body to the brink to reach both the top and bottom at the same time. The volunteer dude in the orange sweater helped me out by shifting the top rope so I could reach it. After this we ended up taking a nice little stroll on the beach and into Pelham Bay.
I thought it would be freezing ass cold, but it was surprising warm- until you had to get out, of course. Then the air was frigid.
The last obstacle before the giant mud-pit of doom that ends these things, was the slippery wall.It was lubed up with Paul Mitchell shampoo and smelled oddly wonderful given we had all just bathed in a NYC waterway. At the top were a variety of volunteers and U.S. Military folk, yelling at you to stay on your belly and use your arms to pull yourself up. Ha. I got about halfway and then Jay had to yank me up like the catch of the day.
I took off my Armpocket and held it in my mouth while we belly-crawled through the last very muddy mud pit and received an oversized dog tag medal.
It took 1:28:38- 5 minutes slower than 2011- but we stopped to help a bunch of people conquer obstacles along the way.
In our swag bags, we got a spiffy tech tee (back shown here), sample-sized Lara bar (apple pie! yum!) , Merrell wicking buff, and sample of Paul Mitchell shampoo. They also provided “Athlete Refreshment Packs” that included the trail mix, fruit snacks, a clementine, and a bottle of water. Nesquick gave everyone chocolate milk 🙂Also included was a coupon to Paragon Sports in Manhattan and a card thing that said that we could get a $110 credit to Merrell if we went and test-drove a Subaru at a participating dealer- I did not take advantage of either of these. Not in the bag but available 5 days after the race, were FREE race photos from Gameface Media! Free pics make me do happy dances.
This is a well run, super fun event. So many new people to the sport were there right alongside people who have been doing it for years. Good times had by all. (Except maybe my mud-fearing son who wanted nothing to do with being around all these muddy nasty people- including his mommy and daddy.)