30. USMC Mud Run, 2008

Muddy BrianThis race was a little different. It’s not a simple 5K or 10K race. It’s a military obstacle course, with all sorts of mud thrown in just to make it dirtier. You can learn more about it here.My friend Ron recruited me and two other men to participate. After some email exchanges, we decided that since it was Ron’s idea in the first place, he would be our team captain, and the team would be called the Army of Ron. This is our story. Well, some of it anyway.

Before the Race

I stayed with Ron and Amy the night before. Once we were at the site, we noticed a long registration line. Ron started calling around to locate our teammates, so I whipped out my phone and posed for a we’re-so-important photo. (Ron wasn’t posing. He was trying to find John.)

We're So Important

Muddy People Return

Above, you’ll see a photo of a very muddy man. The teams could only be allowed to enter the course at intervals, to lessen bottlenecks and to keep the teams spread out. As a result, some of us were waiting while others were already finished with the course. Seriously, this thing went all day.

The Army of Ron

I had mentioned to Ron that I expected to hear a pre-race inspirational speech. I said that I wanted tears to form. Ron replied that although he couldn’t guarantee that we would all be personally moved, he was pretty sure that we would cry after hearing it.

We basically had two plans. First, duct tape would be used on our shoes to prevent them from slipping off in the mud. Second, we organized how we would deal with the wall. There were lots and lots of obstacles on the course, but the wall was the only one which frightened us. We decided to boost the strong guy (Todd) up first, and to pull up the tall guy (John) last. That was it. Aside from that, we just sort of ran out there and winged it. Or wung it… I’m not sure how to conjugate that.

Duct Tape on the Shoes

Duct tape will help us keep our shoes during the really muddy parts.

Just before we started, Ron decided that we should all have team nicknames. He chose Donut , which I thought was a bit harsh. John wasn’t sure until later, when Ron said something to him in a moment of frustration. John was inspired and took the name “Hurry Up, ***hole.” I informed him that that his initials spelled out ” Hua “, an expression which the Army uses for just about everything. As a reservist, he liked that. When asked, Todd blurted out the name ” Clutch “, and I took ” Straightaway .” That’s all I’m good for, you see. I had only trained on straight running.

So at the start of the race, our names were: Huah (John), Clutch (Todd), Straightaway (Brian) and Donut (Ron).

The Army of Ron, Before

Our code names were: Huah (John), Clutch (Todd), Straightaway (Brian) and Donut (Ron).

The Race Itself

As we began, Ron realized that he had forgotten the inspirational speech. He proceeded to lay down some rules for the team.

  1. There will be no buggering in the Army of Ron.
  2. No one is allowed to die.
  3. If Ron dies, we are all required to die with him.

I complained about Rule #3. I insisted that it was inappropriate for us to break Rule #2 just because he did. Unfortunately, Ron insisted.

I could go on at length about the obstacles, but I won’t subject you to that here. I’ll just gloss over the essentials. There were things to jump over, things to vault over, and things to climb over. There were trenches to wade through, and at several points we were waist-deep in water and climbing over logs. Of course, we also had to go under every other log, just to make sure that we were completely soaked in muddy water.

Our plan for the wall succeeded. In fact, we overestimated that obstacle. Team boundaries seemed to melt and vanish at every turn, with everyone helping the person next to them regardless of affiliation. That was by far the most wonderful aspect of the event. It was like being part of one big, dirty team.

The only obstacle which bothered me personally was the balance test. We were maybe fifteen feet above the ground walking over a log. I chose the middle log, but those who chose the sides were able to grab a couple of small trees on their way across. It was simple enough to overcome, but I was somewhat disturbed at the severity of the consequences for failure. You could drop fifteen feet and land on your head. No pressure, of course.

Another common element of the course was the slimy mud hill. These were tough. If you could get your footing and a clear path past other people, then you could sort of run up one side. If you made a mistake, however, you could slide back down to the bottom. One such failure left me with an orange-tinted scrape on my knee. It’s STILL orange, by the way, and this is Tuesday .

In the end, we got past everything. We had a diverse team, so each of us was suited to some of the obstacles, while being able to lean on the team for the other ones. I am now completely sold on any team event which is similar to this one. I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun in one day. Even better, Amy was able to get some photos of the tail end of the race. She got some of our wipeouts and some good pics of the Stretcher Carry. They’re all in my Flickr gallery.

The Last Obstacle

Our final challenge was to carry one of our number for the last hundred yards. Ron chose Todd for this, but he really wanted to carry so I took his place. As they carried me, I complained that had been hit, I couldn’t feel my legs, and could John please give these letters to my wife. (Note to single women: I’m not actually married.) John played along with a hearty “We’ll get you home, soldier!” Ron responded by laughing and letting his side of the stretcher slip a few inches. When I realized that Ron may drop me, I stopped making jokes.

This Ron’s Army: Mission Accomplished

Ron had wanted before and after shots of the group. Here’s the “after” photo. We were covered in mud, and quite happy. When we were ready, we walked over to the water trucks to get a much needed hosing-down.

The Army of Ron, After

Here we are, after being dipped in mud a number of times.

Final Thoughts

This is by far the most fun running event I’ve ever taken part in, even though there was very little straight running on the course. Everyone had big smiles and a tolerance for being dirty. To sum up, it was simple wonderful. I would like to do this sort of thing more often!