I’ve sat on my post about Mud Hero for a couple of days. I know, I know… Bad blogger. Bad! And because I have… Well, its long, yo. This is the norm for race recaps, I suppose.
Before I hit “publish”, I wanted to see my race photos, is my short
excuseanswer. I wanted to see if my memory of how dirty I was stacked up to the photographic evidence of said dirt. Oh *&^%, yes, it did.
I also like my photos. Yay!
In looking at them, I am concluding that this race has got to be the muddiest I have ever been. Not *&^%ing kidding. Not even as muddy as the time I went out back at the farm with my best friend in public school and we played in an old drainage ditch mud hole for hours before coming home caked, and got thrown in the bath tub together.
That said, I am really proud of my accomplishment this past weekend. No disclaimers, no “buts” in there. I am owning my effort, and I am really, really happy I did this race, and felt amazing for it, despite both knees being super sore, losing a toenail, having several new bruises, tweaking my calf and not being able to walk well on Sunday (glutes get a workout walking through mud, dontcha know…).
Yes, I was unbelievably slow (most folks did it in just under an hour, I was an hour and a half). Yes, I walked quite a lot of the muddy parts when others steamed past me. Yes, the young folks I carpooled with left me in their
dustmud wake. And oh my stars, I had such a horrific head cold that breathing was really difficult, and running was pure torture.
But I finished. I completed every obstacle. I helped my fellow Mud Heroes through obstacles, and enjoyed talking to people, cheering them as we went.
I encourage you to go check out the race website. This is a Canadian company, Crazy Canuck Events, and this is their second year organizing Mud Hero races. There is one coming to Montreal the same day as the Spartan Sprint in Ottawa, and one in Toronto in August.
I recommend this race to first time obstacle racers, as the obstacles are very achievable, fun (Helloooo… there’s a Bouncy Castle!) but still challenging enough that you get a great sense of achievement completing them. I’m not sure if all the Mud Hero races will be as over-the-top swamp-like as this one, but if folks want a very unique muddy experience, and aren’t afraid of getting ridiculously dirty, this race is for you.
Below the cut is my recap of the 2013 Mud Hero Obstacle race, held at Commando Paintball on June 1st.
I carpooled in with a friend I had reconnected with on Facebook, and we arranged to go together, to save everyone parking money. It was $10 per car, so we did our part and there were six of us packed into my friend’s SUV. Most of my race mates were younger than I, quite a bit fitter, and all first time mud racers. The excitement was infectious. We arrived in plenty of time, and I have never had a bib pickup and registration go so easily! The swag was nice too. A drawstring bag, a cotton tee (I like the logo), and plasticized numbers that would last the race and be a great keepsake. They use shoe chips, instead of on-the-bib trackers. I think Spartan does this too (Tough Mudder is not timed, so no chip needed there).
Once in the Start pen, the announcer tried to rev the crowd a bit, but his sound system must’ve been a tad off, we could not understand anything he was saying. Too many folks were chatting as well, so hearing anything was beyond me. I did notice (or never heard) that there was no safety talk, or practice of an international “Help me” sign (arms crossed above head or something like that). Overall, I found safety was good, but not as present as Tough Mudder (which is a much, much bigger race, of course). However, this is why you sign a waiver.
Instead of a horn or a whistle, it was a “Go, go go!” launch out the arch. I was immediately left behind by my carpool mates, but I was ok with that. I was sucking wind, my cold making it near impossible to go quickly. I started coughing up a lung, so I settled into a very slow pace. Smart move, because wow, later on I would be thankful for saving my energy to get up and down some very steep cliffs and through some very difficult shoe-sucking mud. We hit the first obstacles and they were quite crowded, the wave not spreading out yet. Crossing over the old, dented cars in one of the paintball fields was a little nerve wracking, because there were quite a few of us up on the roofs of the vans. They shook, and we could hear the metal flexing. Eep?
By the time we got to the Spider’s Web, it had thinned considerably.
I enjoyed the Tipsy Turvy cargo net climbover, although I found it quite non-threatening, being only 2 or 3 ft off the ground. I crawled across, holding it steady for a woman who was afraid, so it took me awhile to get across. There were various mud ditches with logs you had to shimmy under, and some you had to climb over. There were some natural ditches to go through that had water in them, as one would expect. Some lovely running through soft, leaf-strewn trails.
Then, the slog started, which was where I slowed to a snails pace. We went into the lower bush, at the bottom of a wee ravine. Which was mud. Endless, Tolkien-esque trudges through mud. At one point I swore I just wanted to stop and woefully yell “ARTAXXXXXX!” and see who go it.
I am a huge geek.
Nothing at Tough Mudder was even half as mucky and disgusting as what I waded through this past weekend. There was mud at Tough Mudder, but I never had to swim through it like I did here, or wade through such long stretches of mud to my waist. There were spots that were over my head, if not for me clinging to random swamp brush and scrambling for purchase at the side of the trail we were slogging through. It was slow going, feeling for every footstep, praying you didn’t hit a sinkhole, or find that one place where branches/tree roots were submerged to trip you. I have no idea how many loose branch pieces and sawed off sharp chunks of wood I pulled out of muck and threw to the side, that were sticking straight up, submerged under water. I also did not want to splat face first into what looked like the remnants of an old beaver pond swamp. I was hesitant to ingest any of that water thankyouverymuch. I did not relish Beaver Fever (aka Giardia bacteria) or Crypto (Cryptosporidium bacteria) as a souvenir from this race.
If I had to estimate, I would say half of this six kilometre race was through mud, bogs, water sinkholes, or slippery slopes that most folks could NOT run.
Also? I will never do an obstacle/mud race without gloves. Ever. They saved my hands from being ripped to shreds on several occasions, and I was so thankful to them when having to dowse underwater for all the sharp, cut-off branch spikes that could gouge my legs and knees out as I waded. (This is what I use – http://www.mec.ca/product/5023-634/mec-power-phase-ii-gloves-unisex/?h=10+50020+50111+50112+50093&f=10+50004+50093+50112). I also found them quite useful for uphill cliff climbs, and gripping slippery, mud-soaked ropes.
Now, I also had some vindication on this race. As I had mentioned, I did not complete the Balls to the Wall or Boa Constrictor at Tough Mudder. At Mud Hero, I did indeed climb the Hero Wall, and the Cargo Climb, which was 15ft high cargo netting over a wooden truss. I made it through the Light at Tunnel’s End (Boa Constrictor) with NO problems. Caveat here… There was a rope in the up portion of the black tunnels (yes, with knots to haul yourself up). Made it so much easier to climb out! However, I did it, and then for a moment cursed myself for not trying it three weeks earlier.
I also went down a (not very slidey) waterslide into water! This was the point where my right calf decided to seize up right when I hit the water. The First Aid guy came over to me as I exited the water, obviously seeing the searing pain look in my face. I was ok, and did my best to walk it off. (Calf is still sore, I know I tweaked it somehow). Thankfully it was near the end of the course.
The last obstacle is right at the finish, and is a mud pit you have to crawl through, under bungee ropes. The best way is to simply get in, crawl, and get out. The whole point is to make you as dirty as possible for your finish photo, and medal. It was rather fun to get that last little bit dirty, smile and laugh at all the other folks watching around the pit, in various stages of drying-off muddy.
I was glad to be done. The sheer number of mosquito bites I had on my back, coupled with the amount of mud clinging to me made me feel like I was a thousand pounds. My calf was throbbing, my sinuses and throat were rough and raw. Bottled water tasted amazing. My time was 1:34:17. Slow, near the bottom of my age group, in fact, but I didn’t care. I had completed! I did it! *cue happydance*
I also kept my hat clean, which was a bonus. Who does that… Wear a hat to a mud race? (this dork does) Was I ever glad I had it. Otherwise I think the top of my head might be one, big mosquito bite.
Some specific shout outs from on course: the three ladies who helped me over the short over/under walls at the end, and the older women who helped me find a handhold on the Hero Wall. To the volunteer who grabbed my feet at the bottom of the Fireman’s pole to keep me from breaking my ankles and arse. To the extremely upbeat volunteer at the end of the Swamp Run, I was irritated by the amount of mud by this point, but seeing you as dirty as us, likely from helping people out of the muck, made me smile and feel better. To the guy who took over for me in Spider’s nest, who said “AROO!” as I thanked him. To the 2nd water station ladies who were so thoughtful and enthusiastic. to the two volunteers at the top of the waterslides with their clappers and cheering. Thank you!
And of course, to my friend, for driving us there and back, and rocking her first mud race! I think there may be more in her future. *evil cackle*
When I got home, I took my bra off in the tub (I had neglected to pack a replacement to change into), and showered the tub mat with little rocks, dried mud, and what I can only assume is grass/detritus from flora surrounding the trail. The bra itself was caked on the inside with a thin sheen of swamp muck. Needless to say, that shower went on the list of “recent best showers ever” (which includes the showers I had after having both children, the shower after three days camping back country in Algonquin, and of course, after Tough Mudder). I found dirt in my ear two days later, and I have a few gashes from hitting my knees on things in mud pits.
So based on this, will I rock Spartan? In my way, I will. I know I will be slower, but that isn’t really a concern for me. I do these to challenge myself, to be stronger. Time is unimportant (for now).
It was a great day. I am looking forward to see where Mud Hero goes in the next few years. On the back of the medal we received is a quote: “the best part never washes away.”
You got that right. ❤