Gung Ho: Mud Ninja 2013

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This was a small local race that I signed up for mostly for the novelty of it, expecting something on the level of a Warrior Dash. I was soon to find that I had underestimated  it severely, and what I had found was something with the feel of a Spartan Founder’s Race.

The races started out with polite trails and serious bottlenecks, but I didn’t mind as I was considering this a fun recovery run after the Beast and I was not concerned with time. Then we came to the first steep hill, steep enough to require ropes to get up it.

Now this was more like it.

I got to the top of the hill and realized that most of the runners were newbies who didn’t understand the concept of taking time to help the person behind you, as many of them were having trouble with the last few steps and transitioning from the rope to the ledge above. I did the only thing I could think to do: I stayed there and assisted every member of my wave that needed it.

More trails, a great tunnel crawl (great meaning wet, slimy, nasty, lots of rocks, and low enough that you have to do a full belly crawl) and some of the steepest trails that I have seen in Ohio. Some of the climbs had a rope, some used to have a rope that had since broken. We ended up bear-crawling much of it.

We came to the feature obstacle of the course, jump off a springboard to a rope/ cargo net. One of the obstacles that not many people completed. (I didn’t.)

Next was the Autism Speaks wall, a high enough wall that it requires forming ad hoc teams to get people over it. I boosted several people over before being boosted over myself.

The next obstacle that sticks out in memory was a log at about chest height that we had to go over, situated along a steep climb. I started directing traffic and getting people through, you grab his hand, you boost his feet, you get on top and throw a leg over. It appears I was rubbing off on some of my new teammates, as a pair that I helped over told me to go on ahead and they would assist the rest of the group behind me.

We next came to the simplest and toughest obstacle that would be repeated again and again:

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Slick clay mud, ropes so coated in mud that you can get no grip on them. The first time I went up I got about halfway and slid back down. I joined forces with a few others who were stuck in the mud and started assisting those around us in getting up and over. Enough of them that we got the system down, brace one foot there, other foot on my shoulder, etc. They encouraged me to try one more time, and I found if I wrapped the rope around my forearm and put all my weight on it I could get just enough purchase to keep going. A woman on top of the mound that we had helped up called her companions back to help me over. Behold teamwork blossoming.

The other side of the hill were rope traverses that most of us failed, went into the water below, and ended up with another mud hill obstacle at the far side.

Likely the most interesting obstacle was the last, a flat strap that you had to walk across, with one hanging rope in the center that you can use to keep your balance. I nailed it. There was then an earth berm to go up and over, followed by log balance beams that I butt-scooted across (hardest part was dismounting the log onto the face of the berm with nothing to hold on to), and two more earth berms to cross with pools of mud water in between. The berms were particularly slick and I slipped and fell into the water on the next to last one. I remember feeling the bottom of the pit impact the flat of my back. So it is no surprise that my finish line photo looks like this:

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Overall this race was a great time and a decent challenge. Will definitely do it again.

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