I stood at the starting line at Mud Hero wondering what I have I gotten myself into.
It was Friday afternoon and I graciously volunteered to “uncover” the muddy truth behind the popularity of these races.
Surrounded by costumed participants with brightly coloured tutus, glittery headbands and fluorescent knee high socks, I felt slightly under accessorized in my black tank and shorts.
The Mud Hero in Red Deer is a 6 km run with a bunch of obstacles thrown in the mix of mud and more mud played out during multiple heats on Canyon Ski Resort.
Now I will let you in on a little secret. Although I look good on paper — I run upwards of 70 (painstakingly slow) kms every week and fake my way through Pure Fitness Crossfit classes – I am pretty much a big wimp.
Not having the strength to finish any of the obstacles was my biggest fear.
The obstacles boasted names like Demolition Derby, Frog Spa, Tadpole Trench and Kong which I assure you did zip to calm my freaking nerves.
My fears were somewhat alleviated thanks to a lively and entertaining DJ who pumped up the crowd by taking selfies with runners, cracking jokes, inciting chants and blasting crowd-pleasing music.
I almost forgot I was at a race.
As Mr. DJ began the countdown, I took my place near the back of the heat. I strapped a GoPro to my head and we were off.
My goal was simply to complete all the obstacles without too many bruises, cuts and tears.
Straight away I knew this wasn’t your typical running race.
For one thing, people were walking within 150 metres of crossing the start line.
Granted our route took us up a slight incline to start but come on this is a race.
The filthy reality and common sense hit me smack in the face not too long after I passed judgement.
Our route was one big muddy mess.
Everyone around me was slipping, sliding and crawling their way up and down a slick slope. Some held onto tree branches while others trusted gravity to send them on their way.
Clearly they had found their happy place. And it was dirty, very dirty.
Soon I was with them laughing, cursing and falling flat on my butt. I felt my anxiety quickly evaporating.
Our first test was to run over a handful of old and beaten cars. Runners flew over the cars with little hesitation. I was more cautious because I am … well … a wuss.
It had rained all morning and the night before so the course was very slick. At times I felt like I was wearing cement shoes in quicksand.
I kept telling myself – don’t stop moving.
I chatted with the fellow mud runners because let’s face it when you’re stuck in the mud there’s not much else you can do.
We scaled walls, climbed a cargo net, slid down water slides, weaved our way through a spider’s web and nearly lost our sneakers crawling through a sloppy and soggy mud pit.
My mental game was tested at the firepole obstacle. We had to scale a wall then slide down the pole on the other side. Somewhere in the mud I had lost my confidence and I completely froze on top. Others rallied around me with words of encouragement like “you can do it,” “you got it” and “pretend it’s a stripper pole.”
Some people walked around the obstacles but I was (surprisingly) able to nail them all. I can safely say the biggest challenge for everyone was navigating through the mud.
But I noticed there was always someone ready to offer words of encouragement or lend a helping hand. That competitive noise that is often heard at road races was nowhere in sight. Families and individuals of all shapes and sizes, ages and fitness abilities made up the field proving one thing – there’s a hero (and child) in all of us.
I loved every mucky bit of this event. I can’t wait until next year when I drag my coworkers along for the adventure.
Check out a video snapshot of my run on bprda.wpengine.com