competition · racing

XRated Run: One race I won’t be running

the letter XOn this blog I jokingly asked if the days of the vanilla 5 km run were over. These days it’s all about funny colours, rave lighting and music, mud, obstacles, and zombies.

You name it, the duo of  Fit,  Feminist, and (Almost) Fifty bloggers plus our extended community of fit, feminist guests of all ages have done it and blogged about it.

On the whole, I love the participatory spirit of these events. For the most part, they’re fun, aiming to get everybody out there moving, and have a real party atmosphere. I don’t see a need to be a snob about race culture. There were thousands of young people, mostly in their 20s and 30s I’d guess, out for the Warrior Dash. Music and costumes and a great supportive spirit.

I might be approaching 50 but I’m not a grump like the guy who wrote this:  The Slowest Generation: Younger Athletes Are Racing With Less Concern About Time. The fifty something author of that piece thinks youngsters are ruining competitive racing with their lack of concern for finishing times. Me, I still see lots of very serious racing out there and if these fun runs capture people who would never race competitively, then I’m all in favour. The more the merrier, to each her own, etc…

Tracy agrees in her blog post on why she likes races in which everyone gets a medal.

Here’s someone’s Warrior Dash video that seems to capture the mood.

But there’s one themed race I won’t be doing: The X Rated Run.

It even involves mud, which I like. And also lots of nudity, sex, toys, and porn.

I’m not staying away from the X Rated Run because I’m a prude or the sort of feminist who thinks these things are a bad idea for women. I don’t.  I’m a sex positive feminist.

However, you might know from my past post on sexercise that there are things I don’t like to mix.

What’s the attraction? Obviously some people think it’s sexy and fun. Some people think if you like two things, say like food and sex, the combo is even better. Not me. Not food and sex. Not exercise and sex either. If it’s fun for you, great. But me, I’ll stick to running, biking, rowing, weight lifting, soccer etc.

What’s the X Rated Run? Here’s a brief description from their website.

Forget 50 Shades of Grey – X-rated is 50 Shades of Mud.

We’re bringing to you the sexiest, wildest and most outrageous obstacles on the mud run circuit, where fitness is not a factor, but fun definitely is!

Whether you’re a seasoned mud-runner or a mud-run virgin, get out of your comfort zone, bring your sense of humor, leave your conservatism at home and join us for a day of adult-themed fun.

We guarantee you’ll get hot, sweaty, sticky, and covered in more than 50 Shades of mud! Come on your own, as a pair or enter a team, just make sure you’re over 18!
sexy mud runner

Here’s a description from the Sports Illustrated blog Extra Mustard:

If you’re a mud-running enthusiast who has ever wanted porn stars, pole dancers, and generous sexual innuendo with your endurance racing, you best start searching Kayak for flights to Bunnell, Florida on March 22. That’s when thousands of runners with questionable motives will flock to the Sunshine State for the inaugural X-Rated Run, described on its site as “THE ORIGINAL, FIRST OF ITS KIND, 5K adult-themed obstacle course race for all people over 18 of all fitness abilities!”

The event—which will feature such obstacles as the Dominatrix Dungeon, the G-String Crawl, and the Boob Wall—is the brainchild of Kelly Perez, an obstacle-course buff and the owner of adult novelty store SensualSteals.com. She got into the hobby after other attempts at weight-loss regimens didn’t stick, and the idea came to her during a workout session with her Marine cousin.

“One day while training, I felt drained and wanted to give up,” Perez recalls. “I said, ‘This is B.S. Forget it. I’m not an elite athlete—I sell sex toys for a damn living.’ My cousin replied, ‘Stop f—ing complaining, and envision crawling through a penis tunnel.’ After I laughed, it hit me like a bolt of lightning: I literally envisioned an entire obstacle course made out of boobs and penises. Exercise and sex are so closely related: They both cause you to get all hot, sweat, and release feel good pheromones. So why is there not an event that can bring the two together?”

On the bright side, it’s associated with a charity, A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Clitoraid.org, promoting campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM) and helping restore a sense of dignity and pleasure. Visit www.clitoraid.org to learn more.
How much of the proceeds go to charity? If that’s a factor in signing up for a race, it’s wise to find out more. See Nat’s guest post, Philanthropy and Fitness.

Do I have any actual feminist concerns? Mostly I just think it’s not to my taste. (That’s the phrase my kids used growing up when they didn’t like a meal.)  There’s the usual objectification of women and mainstream standards of beauty and stereotyping of everyone’s tastes and pleasures, no doubt with a healthy dose of heterosexism and heteronormativity thrown in for good measure. But hey, that’s just any mainstream women’s magazine or a typical Saturday afternoon at the mall. That is to say, it’s no more offensive from a feminist angle than most of life in general, except it’s sexually explicit.

I do have one really worry about consent, power dynamics, and really demanding physical activity. At the Warrior Dash, no one made you do the obstacles. There was no penalty for not doing them and no one yelled at you. Instead, some of the obstacle staff gave tips on how to complete a given obstacle quickly and safely. If you decided not to do it, then you ran around it. And for the most part, the Warrior Dash didn’t feel so much like a race. Some obstacles were so much fun that people did them twice. Even I was tempted by the “slip and slide.” But I gather that at the Tough Mudder people yell at you.

If you add “people yelling at you to complete obstacles” to a “50 shades of Grey” dynamic and add in some untrained athletes there more for the sexiness and less for the athletic competition, my thought is things might go badly wrong. And if the people attending got their understanding of consent from that particular book, then yikes.(For a feminist, kink positive review of 50 Shades etc, see crazy and criminal: on those damn books, and why they matter.)

Guest Post · racing · running

Recap: Dirty Girl Mud Run Buffalo (Guest Post)

Preamble: Last year, on 8 September 12, my team “Filthy Lasses” ran Dirty Girl Buffalo. I brought along an old digital camera that was held together by duct tape in order to get on-course shots. By the end, it was covered in mud, of course. We don’t shy away from getting dirty, as the photos attest. At the end of it, we vowed we’d do it again. So we did. It is so much fun.

feet in - dirty girl

The Dirty Girl Mud Run is “a 5 k mud run for women of all ages and abilities.” I often describe Dirty Girl as the baby sibling of the mud run family. Warrior Dash, which Samantha blogged about here, is akin to Dirty Girl, although open to both men and women. The obstacles are more challenging at the Warrior Dash; Dirty Girl has no obstacles that require only your own strength to get over them. Tough Mudder or Spartan are more intense, both in physical demands and in the attitude that surrounds the event. There’s an attitude that surrounds Dirty Girl, for sure, but it’s more like “hen night meets inner six year old.” Want to feel better about what your body can do? Had rough first week of September? Run around a track with your girlfriends cheering you on then careen down a slide into some mud.

This year, for reasons that remain obscure, our team name was not allowed, too close to obscenity or some such. Many of the names of the teams referenced breast cancer awareness, the usual charity of choice for the run. (So, “lasses” was somehow frowned upon, but “titties” and “tatas” and “boobies” etc, were all acceptable.) Instead of our stencilled and spray painted tank tops, we opted for fringed fuschia t-shirts, assorted tights and shorts combos (to protect the legs), and bandanas. In the realm of Dirty Girl costumes, these are tame. We saw tiaras, tutus, lots of day-glo combos, and Wonder Women. Last year, I wore a tutu, but it gets really heavy, really fast. And then it falls down.

IMG-20130907-00556

There is more makeup at this run than at any of the other races I have ever done combined: lots of glitter, press on rhinestones, bright pink lipstick. At least, that’s what it looks like at the race start.

By the end of the race, you look like this:

end of mud run

Unlike last year’s run that took place on a ski hill, which provides its own set of challenges in terms of making the event fun for all abilities, this year the run took place at a speedway, so it was flat. At the start, loud music and a Zumba instructor kept us moving. (We were grateful for this distraction: it began to rain and the temperatures began to drop just as our wave was starting). The first obstacle was about 750 m from the start, then obstacles followed every 400m to 750 m. My favourite of the obstacles involve climbing; the net wall is arguably the most challenging of the obstacles at Dirty Girl, because it involves both height, movement, and having to change directions at the top.

netwall

We got the dirtiest on the big slide (no surprises there — you slide into a pit of mud feet first). I also got my one and only bruise from the event on the slide too, because I hit the bottom of the pit with my left hip. Overall, for this event, I preferred the flat race with more obstacles to the ski hill race of last year.

Here’s the thing about a MUD run: you are meant to get dirty. I’m a fan for lots of reasons, including that it is really hard to be pretentious about, well, anything – including diet choices, exercise regimes, how one looks in spandex – when you are covered in mud. Mud is a great equalizer, as it turns out.

competition · running

A few words about the Warrior Dash

Well, that was a blast. Fun, fun, fun.

I just finished the Warrior Dash a combo mud run and obstacle course. I went with my active and adventurous cousin who’d done it the year before and guessed right that I’d love it.

It was 3.51 miles of hills, mud, and challenging obstacles.

Here’s a few brief post race thoughts:

  • When a race is held on a ski hill, one should realize that there would be hills, lots of them. Up and down, up and down. Wowsa. Reminded me of why I didn’t run much in New Zealand but maybe I should have, the hills were actually fun. Yes, I walked up the steepest bits but I think my running speed and walking speed would be the same at that gradient. Also, note to self, 3.51 miles of hills is much harder than 3.51 miles of flat though I love running through the woods.
  • What an incredible party atmosphere. There were thousands of people there, mostly young, in their twenties and there to have fun. Lots of teams in fancy costumes, including tutus, bow ties, glitter, bridal paraphernalia and body paint. There was live music, a beer tent, and some hooting and hollering and dancing. So many people…waves of up to 500 people started every half hour from 730 am to 530 pm, Saturday and Sunday. The people were very friendly and though I didn’t run with cousin (she’s a speedster) I quickly fell in with some fun women about my speed.
  • I discovered that I’m okay with slithering on my belly under barbed wire through mud. I got covered in mud and that was all just fine.
  • I also discovered less happily that my fear of heights gets in my way of climbing over very high obstacles. Yikes. That was where being a part of a team would have helped. Teams helped one another up and over the worst of the obstacles. I’m not ashamed to say I skipped two of them, one because it was busy being rebuilt because someone fell and broke her ankle. The presence of paramedics made running around it seem like the wise choice.
  • Like Tracy, I’m glad I got a medal even though I felt incredibly slow. I also like my fuzzy warrior helmet, see photo below!
  • It takes a long time to get mud off you even with a high powered hose and friends helping! I might be muddy still for days.
  • It was okay doing the race in glasses. I was worried about that. But not seeing would have been worse and they only got too muddy to see through a couple of times.
  • So in summary, hills, mud and people were great but the obstacles were a mixed bag. I’m good with rope, mud, barbed wire, slithering, sliding, and military crawling, much less good with heights and clambouring over high walls not knowing what’s on the other side. I think if I could more confidently do a pull up, that would be easier and less terrifying.
  • And yes, I’d do it again!
  • Update: Results just posted. At one hour and seven minutes I was 355th of 947 women in my age group. (We weren’t in waves according to age but results were posted that way.) On the one hand, I’m at the older end of my age group. Even my speedster cousin snuck in! On the other, I did skip two of the obstacles. But really it was hard to take that seriously as a race. I had to wait to scale over or slither through some of the obstacles. And some people were having so much fun with some obstacles they did them twice. Hello slip and slide!

    Chatting with friends who’ve done the Spartan or the Tough Mudder, the Warrior Dash seems different. How? Well, more party less boot camp. Certainly it takes itself much less seriously. The costumed people helped maintain the light hearted party atmosphere. And no one screamed at me to run faster or climb higher. Live music helped too!