On June 5th I did my first mud run, at Camp Pendleton Marine Base. This is often referred to as the Grand-Daddy of Mud Runs, taking place for over 30 years (so I've been told... but don't shoot me if I'm wrong!). Its a 10k on dirt roads and over hills (BIG HILLS!), across a lake, through some streams, over walls, through culverts, fire hose spray and a place known as Combat Town.
Registration for this event opens on January 1st each year and is capped at 6100 entrants. It usually sells out within hours; I couldn't get in to Saturday's race but did get my team registered for Sunday's run. That meant that I had 5 full months to get my team together and start planning!
First off, I had to insure that my teammates were on board with my approach that this was to be a FUN day of exercise, NOT a competitive race. That said, I hoped we would all be of comparable levels of fitness so that we could do the whole thing together... in fact, teams are required to cross the finish line together and with arms linked. I knew I could walk a 10k and was pretty sure I could handle all the obstacles but running was 100% forbidden by my doctor and my knee pain. Who could I trust to do this in the right spirit??
I started by enlisting my husband and good friend John, both veteran Marines. Since I was in the Navy we toyed with the idea of making this an all-vet team of over 50 year-olds but we had some trouble finding another female (a requirement for mixed teams is that there be at least two women) so we shifted gears and turned to running friends. John brought his friend Jack on board and I invited my friend Cynthia. Both of them are runners who were willing to walk this one with us. I found matching sunflower yellow Nike shirts for us and hence the Strokers and Jugs team was born. Cynthia and I bought disposable waterproof cameras to document our escapades and we all met up yesterday morning bright and early.
We picked up our race shirts and the laughter started... the young Marine who was handing out the size Mediums embarrassed himself when he said to me: "I don't think that's going to fit, you'll want a Large". I looked at him and said "you did NOT just say that to me?! " ... He turned bright red and started stuttering about how he meant in the chest area, all the while keeping his eyes glued to my jugs. Ha! He had no idea that there was a time I wondered if an XL would fit... so I chuckled and said "Let me just try this on over my shirt". When I pulled it on he said "That looks really good on you!!" Ha! Again, he turned bright red realizing how inappropriate that probably was. I was just giggling inside; he was an adorable kid, maybe 19 years old, and he just didn't know what to do or say but he knew he was sticking his foot in his mouth the whole time.
From the T-shirt pickup area we made our way to the race venue and took advantage of every photo op
The Marine Special Ops Group had a booth with tubes of face paint (used for camouflage) and of course I started painting everyone's faces! The guys were really good sports about it... and I promised to use a "light" hand.
It seemed like forever before we could line up for the team start, but were entertained by Jack and John, two of the funniest guys I've ever met. When they opened the team corral (yes, just one for 5000 people!) the party really began. Checking out the other team's outfits and names was definitely a huge part of the experience.
Filing into the corrals:
Our first obstacle was just .25 miles from the start - we were showered by multiple fire hoses before we hit the sand and dirt trails to ensure that we picked up every grain of it in our shoes!
We continued to walk our way through the course, forging streams and climbing hills, passing Combat Town where the Marines train for situations like they might find in Iraq and Afghanistan, and when we hit the halfway point we finally got to some "real" obstacles.
One of the streams:
Combat Town behind us:
The course is laid out so that you get wet immediately but you don't really get muddy until you're on the back end. I think that's rather nice of them, don't you?
Entering the first mud pit, leading to the 5' walls:
And scaling them:
Since this was our first obstacle of significance I decided it warranted a team shot... of Kamikazes!
This was just to insure that we all stayed within the guidelines of our "Mission" - all fun, a bit of booze, a lot of laughs, and memories to last a lifetime!
From the double wall jumps we headed to the Lake, which we had the choice of wading across or swimming across... I swam a bit but the team chose to wade. I use that term loosely, as the water got up to Cynthia and Jack's armpits at one point! In order to exit the lake we had to climb a short, somewhat steep and very muddy/slick hill. Once we got to the top the guys decided it would be fun to slide back down!
From there we had only a few obstacles left, and even fewer shots remaining on our cameras! There was another mud pit and 5' wall to hurdle, done so elegantly by Jack:
followed by a conduit crawl:
when we ran out of film
We still had to climb the "slippery slope" - a very steep, slick, rutted hill, at the top of which stood Marines with fire hoses aimed at us - easy target practice for them, not so easy for us to avoid! The final obstacle was a mud crawl under flags with Marines alternately egging us on and cheering for us to finish. I hope that the course photographers got some shots of us in those last two places because they were priceless!
As required by the rules, we crossed the finish line arm in arm and proceeded to celebrate with an ice cold shower, a beer, and some lunch before heading out. My teammates went home but Bob and I headed down to San Diego to meet up with my dear Spark friend MENT2BE who had just completed her 10th HM at Rock 'n' Roll SD that morning. She is such an inspiration!! Our pics together at lunch are on her blog :
All in all it was a great day and we all had a good time. Anyone want to join us next year????