Guest Post · racing · running

The verdict on the race I almost forgot? Awesome.

Muck MS Hamilton was great. Here’s my still very fresh impressions (in no special order and completely subjective):

Things I liked: the obstacles. This mud run had the most challenging obstacles of any of the ones I have done (Dirty Girl, Warrior Dash).  The obstacles were all staffed with someone to tell you what was expected and to monitor the number of people hazarding the challenge. As a result, I had minimal worry about another participant falling into me or a stray leg whacking me in the head while going over a high challenge. There were a number of old-school playground-style challenges that I have not seen elsewhere: monkey bars, rope swings, rope climbs, tire walls. Of course, there were many pits of mud to jump in, thrash about in, and to almost lose shoes in. No bouncy obstacles.

Things I liked more than I thought while on the course: Unlike other races, where this is a good measure of hurry up and wait between obstacles, because the obstacles were staffed, each one also had bootcamp style exercises to complete while waiting. Yes, you have to wait while other people take their turn – but since you are here, drop and do fifteen burpees followed by fifteen mountain climbers.  Still waiting? Do some sit ups. Oh, it’s taking longer than you thought? Jog in place with your arms held up. It’s no wonder I can barely lift my arms.

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Things I missed (that other mud runs usually have): loud music and dancing. There was a man charged with building excitement in the crowd about to run and he did a decent job, but I missed the loud music that has been at other events. “Pumpy music,” my 8 year old calls it. I wanted some of that.

Things I was fine not to see but others might miss: the beer tent / free drink to all people who race.

Things I did not like: slippery rope.

Things that are signs of a beginning event (and that I hope continue): the parking situation was easy to navigate and the shuttles were on time and plentiful.

Things that made this event special for me: watching my friend giggle almost uncontrollably as she slid into the last trench of mud. She was positively gleeful. At the end of the course, she was given her medal by a man in a wheelchair who was so captured by her joy that he asked for a (very muddy) hug. I hope there are some on the course action shots of us together.

Things I have to remember to bring next time: gloves. Weight-lifting gloves would have protected my hands on the rope challenges.

Things I just need to point out: it is really hard to put in contacts without a mirror, but if you can do it using only a mobile phone, you get a lot of unsolicited positive comments.

Number of times we heard, via radio worn by staff, about need for a medic or an ambulance: at least three in one hour.

Obstacle I could not do: the last one. I was supposed to climb a rope that was roughly 8 metres in height. I did two pull ups with my arms and got no further. My arm strength was gone. There was a lot of climbing. I also could only do five rungs of the monkey bars (jump up, grab, then go between bars about a foot apart, over a pit of mud).  Slippery rungs that were a bit large for my tiny hands (and no training!) were the culprit here.

My favourite obstacle: climb to the top of a parapet using a rope, swing your legs on to the top (no points for style here: everyone looked like a beached whale doing this manoeuvre), then descend on the other side, using another rope that you had to wrap around your leg, making a brake with your feet and using your arms to rappel down the side. I had forgotten that I know how to do this and it brought back memories of my childhood rope swing that I would use to descend from climbing trees.

It’s not a mud-run that any fitness level could do, unless you chose to go around all the obstacles. But there was no open fire, no potential for electrical shocks, no barbed wire. I felt there were lots of things that got me out of my comfort zone to the point of having to take a calculated risk – that’s good for me. I feel an influx of confidence, and I am grateful for that. Lots of team-building in my wave, but no bizarre costumes. The teams helped each other, giving “legs up” and pulling each other to the top of obstacles.

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As I write this, I am six hours from finishing the race. My arms (all parts of them) started shaking about a half hour after the race. I just had trouble carrying a load of laundry to the basement. It’s not the cardio that is hard in this race. It’s the strength component. Next year, I’ll focus on my upper body strength a great deal more, whether I am busy or not. The goal? Climb that damn rope.