I was excited to go back to one of my favorite races from last year. I met a nervous young lady at the start line who said that her friends had agreed to run with her but had backed out, so she was unsure if she could do it, or if she should do the shorter course. I volunteered to battle-buddy her through the course, and she could decide what distance she was doing when we got there.
Contrary to most races that start you on low ground, at this one you have to climb a ski hill just to get to the start line. Safety briefing, countdown, and we were off.
Rocky downhills, mud pits, and hit the first real obstacle, a steep incline wall with ropes. We both got over with no trouble.
Next were some unbelievably slimey nasty mud pits to go through, chest deep in slop clinging to a guide rope. Single track trails through the woods then through a hip-deep bog. Many of us had to assist others and be assisted just to stay upright getting through it.
Next was a water obstacle that I had not seen before, a chain-link fence laid flat over a trench of water. Lie on your back and pull yourself through the water by the fence that is an inch from your face.
There were several vertical cargo nets along the course, old hat to me but scary to some of the newer racers. I made it a point to hold the net for others and give what advice I could to help the newbies along.
More slick bog mud pits with guide ropes. I saw several people unable to get out of the muck (It really is like quicksand.) and moved ahead to help push/pull people out. Several of us were able to get it organized and get everyone through. I love seeing the magic of teamless teamwork take hold in new racers.
Next the balance beam logs that I happily butt-scooted across, and the fork that divided the 5k course from the full 7.2 mile course.
“Moment of truth.”
“I can do the full course.”
Next was a covered low crawl through water. As I approached another racer who had stopped there gave a “How ya doin'” and I smiled and replied, “Cold, wet and nasty, it’s a good day.” and jumped into the water. It was an interesting crawl, water very close to the supports overhead, in places I had to turn my head sideways to keep my nose above water and blind turns that almost caused me to panic.
As we regrouped after this obstacle, the man who had greeted me at the entrance told me that he had been near a panic attack over this obstacle, just too far outside his experience to deal with cold, wet, and claustrophobic all at once. Seeing us attack it with a smile was what helped him break through and beat it. You never know who you might be having an impact on.
Monkey bars next. I knew my grip was not strong enough, so I just jumped in the water below and walked across. Next time, but not there yet.
Triangular cargo nets, more mud pits, hills steep enough that they had ropes to help us climb them. One hill with a hose and a slip-n-slide to make climbing it more fun. Down a rocky, technical slope that a firehose had made into a small waterfall.
The walk-the-plank obstacle is one that I have always skipped before. I can swim when I control how I enter the water, but have less confidence when jumping in. This time I decided to do it. While my mind did have a serious moment of “WTF ARE YOU DOING?” I went over the edge without hesitation. I was hacking a bit when the diver in the water checked on me, but I was able to make it back to shore without assistance.
Next some black plastic tubes to crawl through with uncomfortably high water at the low end (go feet first) and two walls to go over. A spectator noticed me helping the two ladies in front of me over, and called out “Let’s see you do it now!”
I backed up, took a running start, cleared it, gave him an AROO, and was on my way. Barbed wire crawl, one more cargo net…
Regroup and charge the finish line.
Course officials congratulated us on winning a medal, a banana, and a beer, and pointed us toward the fire pits that all the finishers were huddled around, steam rising from our clothes, trying to get warm.
It was a great race, awesome to help bring new racers into the sport, and this race will see me again.
Note: I found a gopro of the course that gives a better feel for the course than my command of the English language can do, so I have linked to it here: