When we left off in Pt. 1, I was smack in the middle of my first mud trail run.
Reaching the summit of a long although gradual climb, I was rewarded with a thirst quenching cup of water and bad news.
The road ahead although flat was not smooth sailing. Not more than 1/2 city block in front of me I can see runners climbing over a wooden obstacle that spanned the trail.
As I drew closer I could see it was a hurdle type obstacle about 4 feet high. Getting over it wasn’t that difficult.
One of the advantages of being 6+ feet tall is the ability to raise your legs high enough to easily get over things shorter people might find difficult. And this obstacle had a lower and upper plank, which made it like climbing a very short ladder. Easy as pie.
Next up was a blockade of what looked like giant heavy bags hanging from the trees.
They weren’t that heavy when I reached them, but were in perpetual motion, back and forth each with its own rhythm caused by the runners who encountered them before me. I had to be careful. Pushing them away from me as I whizzed through this semi-barrier.
The next climb wasn’t as easy.
This one was a wall about a good 10 feet high. I took my time, carefully climbing the ladder-like planks. 10 feet may not seem that high. But it’s high enough to do some damage if you slip in-between the planks and wind up dangling like a discarded rag doll on a clothes line.
After one or two more obstacles, this long-awaited flatlands respite, which may have lasted all of a good 5 minutes was over.
The descent begins.
Going down hill on a wilderness trail can easily spoil the relief that comes with the sense of “it’s all downhill from here.” <Tweet this
The pull of gravity on a steep downhill does make acceleration easy, too easy.
Maintaining vertical while simultaneously maintaining a competitive speed downhill requires an above average level of experience and fitness. Instead of actively accelerating, you are actually using your quadricep muscle strength to brake. The same way you would while driving a car down a steep hill.
Each time you foot strikes the ground, your subtlety slowing your fall and balancing your weight. All the while scanning the ground ahead for stones, roots, fallen branches and hidden ditches.
It’s not long before I can feel my quadriceps demanding I respect the important role they are playing in preventing me from falling and bruising more than my ego.
The descent continues for about 5 minutes. As soon as we get to the bottom, we get the first water crossing. A narrow stream, no more than 8 feet across. It ‘s shallow, but rocky. The course doesn’t cross it directly. There is thick growth on the opposite side. So instead of crossing we have to trek in the stream, before we can cross over.
There are lots of big stones and boulders in the water, so I figure I can just hop from boulder to boulder without getting wet. WRONG! The stone bridge quickly begins to disappear before me as their frequency thins out, leaving me no choice but to wade through the water like everyone else.
Now I’m wet and muddy.
The obstacles begin to appear more frequently after this first crossing. It seems the race organizers are a bunch of cruel Nazi’s who get off on watching our hopes rise and fall as you get closer to the end of the course.
More walls, hanging/swinging truck tires, water crossings, muddy sections of trail, spiders web of string, culminating in a belly mud crawl. For the most part I was able to handle these with little difficulty. I took my time, mapped out my strategy in my head upon approach and successfully executed. Go Me! But of course, there always has to be a wrench in the machinery.
The obstacle that gave me a problem, was the one I judged would be the easiest of all.
This was a long, hard plastic tube. The kind you may have noticed being laid underground on one of your local streets. I got down on all fours like the other runners ahead of me and began to crawl through. Simple right? Not quite.
This is where being 6+ feet tall works to your disadvantage. As soon as I began crawling into the tube, I got stuck. My long upper legs caused my bottom to make firm contact with the top of the tube. So for the next 30 or so feet, I had to get down on my belly and elbow-shimmy my way to the end. It was slow, energy depleting and needless to say, filthy.
Note to self: Never underestimate the difficulty of an obstacle. It could be fatal.
So, I reached the finish line in one piece with energy and enthusiasm to spear. My first mud run/trail run event was challenging, empowering, a practical self assessment and a lot of fun. I would recommend participating in a mud run to anyone who is in at least fairly good shape.
Again, you don’t need to be an athlete to complete a mud run and enjoy this event. Set your own pace, put safety first, get some friends to participate with you and enjoy a day of mud, sweat and cheers. ; )