You must do a lot of running

Saturday I participated in the USO Mud Run. It is a 5K cross country obstacle course race. I’ve never done an obstacle course race before, but I’ve run plenty of muddy trail races. I thought, I can run a good 5K, I love cross country, I love muddy races. The obstacles were the unknown here for me, but I figured I could probably do them as well as anybody else.

Making the event even more interesting was the heavy rainfall on Friday night, and continuing rainfall during the race. Without the rain the course probably would have been pretty dry except for the mud mountains. With the rain the entire course (except a gravel road section) was wet and muddy, and there were a few sections of deep water.

The ~900 participants started in three different waves. I was in the first wave with all other individuals. The other categories of participants were female teams, male teams, and co-ed teams. Each team had five members and they had to finish together.

As was typical in a road race, a handful of slower runners sprinted off the starting line to get a big lead for about 200 meters before slowing drastically. After working my way through them I was alone at the front with a high school aged boy.

We stayed together for the first half mile through the wet and muddy grass until we reached the first series of obstacles, about six mud mountains in a row. Each one started with about 20 meters of thigh-deep water, followed by a steep pile of dirt/mud we had to climb over and down, followed by another 20 meters of thigh-deep water. It was impossible to run through the water, we just had to walk quickly and hope our shoes didn’t get sucked off our feet by the mud at the bottom.

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Photo from here

Next there was a runnable section of shin-deep water for about 100 meters. After that was the easy section of the course, which was a long straight gravel road. I had a small gap on the other guy after the obstacles and I tried to open it up on this fast part of the course.

At the end of the road we had to make a sharp left turn and go down into a big steep ditch filled with water and back up the other side. I had to laugh. I was the first person of the day to reach this part of the course and as I made the turn one of the volunteers said to me, “Be careful. We actually have no idea how deep the water is.” So I used a bit more caution. It up to my chest and wide enough that I could have swam across.

Once up the hill there was a mud crawl where (I think) we were supposed to go under the flags strung across the mud pit. I don’t know for sure because nobody explained it before or during the race and I didn’t have anyone in front of me to watch.

The final mile had some more muddy cross country, a few more ditch/water crossings, and one more mud mountain. The final obstacle was a huge plastic tarp slip-n-slide. Which was great.

I finished 1st. It was a super fun race. I was done before the 2nd and 3rd waves even started, so I was able to go back out to watch (and film) a lot of the team participants, which was just as fun as running the race myself. The vast majority of the people there weren’t really competing, they were just there to have fun. And I can see the appeal of that. This was not the typical crowd you see at a road race. There were a lot more smiles here.

I ran another 5-6 miles after my race. After the Nth time I passed one of the race volunteers (before, during, and after the race), he says to me:

You must do a lot of running.

He had me pegged.