I got to do this one with my husband! Nothing says “fun date night” like “pool of urine”!
You guys! I have BIG NEWS! I finally did it! I got to live out my lifelong dream and pee in a lake! (Okay, more like a pond.) And I didn’t even have to do a triathlon for the privilege! It wasn’t so much of a decision to go rogue with bodily fluids but more of a reaction to being scared jumping off a wall, falling 12 feet and hitting c-o-l-d water. Not gonna lie, I was slightly embarrassed. Until I got to the finish line and half my friends admitted to doing the same thing. Which was all fun and sisterhood-of-the-baby-weakened-bladders until we realized that we ran in like the 15th heat of the day… so basically we jumped off a wall into a pool of pee. Strangers’ pee, to be precise.
Lesson #1: Races are not for the squeamish.
While the urologist’s dream jump was the highlight of the Camp Titan obstacle race, there was entertainment from the get-go, starting with registration. “10 dollars for parking please.” “$15 per spectator. Yes, even children count.” “$2 per bag for the bag check.” “No, we’re not providing beverages but there’s a vending machine around the corner.” “Would you like to make a donation to our sponsor?” “We’re selling $5 raffle tickets to win a TV!” And that was after paying for our entries! When my friend asked where the bathroom was I immediately hushed her, sure that the race promoters had found a way to make port-a-potties coin operated.
Lesson #2: Never assume salted nut rolls and bananas are your finish-line right. Why should you get post-race goodies when kids in Africa are starving?
Pre-Race: The girls got our game faces on! Mad squirrel!
But the miserliness of the organizers was made up for by inventiveness of the course designer(s). (I’m told it was done by a local CrossFit gym – nicely done guys!) This being my first official mud run I have nothing to compare it to but I was not disappointed in the course challenges! It was just a 5K run but it was held on the local ski slope, Buck Hill. (Which, much to our Rocky-Mountain-born-and-bred amusement, actually sports an avalanche warning sign. It’s 500 feet tall.) Still, we went up and down that 500 feet a lot. We started out with a run up the hill, naturally, to climb a wall of hay bales, hot step it through a chute of tires, crawl on our stomachs through mud and carry a log on our shoulders for awhile.
Lesson #3: Unless it’s barbed wire above you, crawling on your hands and knees through the mud is sufficient.
Then we had to run around 2 miles of single track on the forested backside of the hill. Thanks to the hot, muggy weather, swarms of mosquitoes and unmarked trails that all seemed to go uphill in circles it would have been unmitigated misery if it weren’t for the hilarity of watching all the runners pop and in and out of the underbrush like demented prairie dogs. Some people gave up and cut through the suburban backyards that abutted the trail while others just ran faster hoping that they would eventually make it out of the warren through sheer force of will. (For myself, I was too afraid of getting lost in the neighborhood so I stuck it out. Pretty sure I ran past the same stump at least 4 times though.)
Lesson #4: Next time I should train for what I’m actually doing. Running 5K on a treadmill in an air-conditioned gym is nothing like trail running hill repeats in the Amazon. I gots the shin splints.
But the best was yet to come. Finally out of the forest, a steep paved trail took us back to the top of the mountain (you like how it started out as a hill and has now morphed into a mountain?), of which I walked the entire way. I’d be ashamed but not a soul passed me. Even the hardcore CrossFit dude walked it. (You can tell he’s hardcore because he wasn’t wearing a shirt but had on $80 mountaineering gloves and $200 technical shorts. Protect the moneymakers, baby.)
Lesson #5: You can see mirages of water stations. Sadly that’s all it was.
At the top, we got to enjoy the beautiful view by scaling a 30-foot “Jacob’s ladder”, hopping across some gigantic hurdles/balance beam thingies and vaulting over a series of progressively taller walls. The walls tripped me up a bit. They had no real hand or foot holds so all you could do was run as fast as possible and then do one of those cartoon runs up the side hoping your momentum would carry you to the top and over. That worked for two of them. For the third wall however I needed a little help. It’s times like these when you see who your true friends are! My friend Nate took one for the team and played step stool for me and another girl. (I later found out that my thoughtful husband had done the same for several women in his pack.)
Lesson #6: Sometimes you have to step on some people to get to the top. Er…
And then came my Waterloo. After running down a steep hill you had to run straight up the side of a halfpipe and then jump off the other side 12 feet down into a pond of indeterminate depth. My plan was to run up it and immediately jump. My plan sucked. I totally panicked when I got to the top and stood there for a good five minutes contemplating life, the universe and ponds that might only be 4 feet deep since we’re in a drought this summer. Finally Nate said “Come on, you only live once!” and tipped gracefully over the side. My fear of being left behind conquered my fear of heights and I jumped. Then I hit the bottom. But I swam out and all was peachy.
Lesson #7: 12 feet feels a lot higher than it looks from the ground.
Everything was downhill from there. Literally. We ran to a giant slip-n-slide where I belly flopped into another pond. Then we carried sandbags halfway up the hill and back down, flipped a tractor tire, got sprayed down with a hose and crossed the finish line! Best part of finishing was when the woman announced our times. “4:11!” she proclaimed as I crossed. “What does that mean?” I asked, baffled. It couldn’t be 4 hours nor could it be 4 minutes. “That’s what time it is now,” she replied. “It can’t be. There’s no way it took me over two hours to run 5K, even with obstacles,” I huffed. “Well it is!” she huffed back, holding up her iPhone that was apparently the official race clock. “Your phone’s on military time,” my friend Beth explained. “You subtracted wrong.” “Oooohhh,” she sighed looking at her clipboard. “That means I’ve written down everyone’s times wrong then.” By Beth’s best estimate (she can make a sundial out of twigs and point due north even in a pitch black cave so I trust her) we finished in about 40 minutes. Well that will teach me to get all competitive and try to compare times!
See me clutching my dixie cup like it’s an Oscar?? I never realized before how much I take water-table volunteers for granted.
Lesson #8: Race bag swag is a privilege. One that we did not earn apparently as there were no race bags. Nor was there anything post-race except water in a 5-gallon jug with dixie cups. We had to drive to Best Buy – soaking wet and reeking of pond pee – to pick up our plain white t-shirts.
Final verdict: The race management was a mess (by far the worst of any race I’ve ever done and I include my kids’ elementary school walk-a-thon with 50 kindergartners in that) but the race itself was solid. I was seriously challenged in a variety of physical and mental ways. But if any of you decide to try this one next year just make sure you bring your own water bottle. And lots of cash!
Right after this pic was snapped, I accidentally flipped over into a backbend. When I stood up, my shirt came up a little. So when we walked past a group of guys on the way out they thanked me for the free flash (seriously). I’d have been bugged but hey, at least somebody got something at the finish line!
Have you ever done a mud/obstacle race? Have you ever done a race that was not at all what you expected? Are you the kind of person who would let people use their back as a springboard to get over a wall??