Published on October 4th, 2014 | by Richard Hunt0
Big Mud Fun
For many reasons, it’s best not to fixate on the “human race.” We’ve unfortunately proven to the rest of the creatures also existing on this earth that we are not always the best caretakers. It’s so abundantly and embarrassingly clear when our vision narrows and we fail to include all species in our actions and decisions. We need to stretch—physically (literally) and spiritually (metaphorically)—so that our collective conscience sees the bigger picture, not just what we believe is important to people, or worse, sometimes just people on this part of the planet, or most alarmingly, just the folks we also count as family.
But this isn’t a rant, just an attempt to stay balanced and aware. Which, from my perspective, means mixing things up, blending mental and physical challenges with a few quiet moments of reflection and thought. I remind myself, “sure, good luck with that.”
One way to keep from letting myopia become “MY-whatever” is by attempting things that we’re not good at. It’s a practice to try things we can’t or won’t or frankly, shouldn’t practice for – little adventures where we should simply have fun. What this lottery approach to life creates is a humble, slightly off-balanced, POV with a sense of humor firmly attached. One of the best ways I’ve found to do that is with a mud run.
Mud runs go by many monikers (if I tried to list all the variations, this would quickly become a swamp of registered trademarks and copyright abbreviations). Although there is a start and finish, a mud run is truly not a race, another facet not to fixate on. These events are essentially an obstacle course wedged into a 5K or longer run. All the rage for the last few years, their rise might be tied to too many episodes of “Survivor” and not enough common sense to know better. Or the attraction to get outside and get dirty is too magnetic and genetic to resist.
Which is how we found our merry band of Roebling Rowdies at Morgan’s Canoe in Brookville, IN a couple Sundays ago for the Morgan’s Mud Gauntlet.
The fog had settled in to the Ohio River Valley; this time of year, the night air cools significantly so the warmer water surface has some fun creating pre-Halloween special effects. With the promise of a brilliantly beautiful autumn day awaiting us, we were ready for some mayhem which might be the best way to describe the thirty obstacles—from mud pits to giant hay bales to river crossings to walls of all scale (from 3’ to 30’ tall) to rope climbs and monkey bars.
Beforehand, the participants resemble a pet store prison break, all sorts of cute puppies and kittens looking clean, bright-eyed and ready to bound about in the great outdoors. Gathered behind the start line, we semi-nervously shook out our arms and legs, which serve to both loosen us up and warm us up. Good thing too, for what loomed first before us was 45’ of waist-deep c-c-c-c-c-cold water to cross. The final pre-race instructions came over the loudspeaker, a volley of bottle rockets and other fireworks signaled the start…and we were off.
Roughly an hour later—emphasis on the rough part—a major transformation had taken place; the pack of contestants making their way out of the woods, but not before being tested by the last ten obstacles strewn across a large field which served as the homestretch, more closely resemble wild boars rooting and snorting through the Okefenokee Swamp. Everyone was a mess, and if it weren’t for all smiles, you’d think twice about meeting this motley crew at the finish line.
Looking back, the experience proved three things to me:
1. The importance of full-body dynamic training beforehand. Training time on a treadmill or with weight machines simply would not have prepared any participant for the mix of climbing, ducking, jumping, running, and general scrambling to stay upright and moving forward.
2. The joy that’s found when running around outdoors…made us all feel like kids again.
3. Most important, by doing this event as a team increased the fun factor immeasurably. Waiting as a group to finish one obstacle before heading off the next, being able to reach back and help someone over the wall, trash talking over the length of the course, kept these half-dozen knuckleheads (it’s true, good things do come in six-packs) laughing more than worrying about split times or blisters.
What’s the best way to measure how effective and engaging the day was? Well, the next morning there was definitely some stiffness and a few new scratches had appeared overnight…but when the group text went out inquiring whether everyone was up for another go next year, the answer was a unanimous “hell yeah!” The Rowdies live to run again…