When I first learned that people were paying good money to run around in the woods and get covered in mud, I wasn't so sure about the concept. I remembered doing it quite a lot as a kid and it was fun back then but why is it suddenly popular now? Sometimes you have to witness an event to understand the appeal.
At the 2nd Annual Tippecanoe Trail Mud Run, I got up close to the race and zoomed right in on the action to see what motivates such behavior. What did I see? I saw a man running in a kilt. I saw women with fake mustaches. I saw mud covered kids with huge smiles on their faces. I saw teammates waiting up for each other, even at the finish line. What I saw through the lens was good clean, no wait, not clean at all. It was even better, it was dirty fun.
A week before it all began my wife and I stumbled upon some of the constructions being built for this race and they were amazing. From the water slide on Mount Tippecanoe to the sudden plunge of the mud pit to the heartbreaking climb at the wall, there was both joy and drama all along the course and for all levels of athletic ambition.
Runners started in the Charlotte Stadium parking lot. They bolted past the pond where they got a cold shower from a water cannon and then sprinted straight into the trails. The next obstacle would get their feet wet and then it was a long jog to parts unknown. Along the way they would climb wood and ropes, balance over see saws, drop down a water shoot, wriggle through spider webs and finally splash into the gooiest mud ever!
The two categories were a 5k single lap and a much harder 10k double lap. While both groups equally hit every section of the course, the 10k runners had an additional obstacle - the ladder peak monkey bars. It was here that even the strongest struggled to keep their grip and continue on.
This brings us to the results. I'm not sure who won. I think it was the guy in the Air Force shirt, he was way ahead of everyone. I'll leave it to the timers at Zoomers to figure out the rest but they didn't have an easy task as so many people lost their electronic tags. While every event has winners and losers, mud running might be the exception. If you have fun, finish the course and get dirty - you won.
When the racing was over everyone, including onlookers, needed a good bath. The organizers were well prepared by having a water truck spray finishers with a fire hose. The demand for this public shower attracted quite a long line of filthy competitors all hoping to get at least some of the sticky mess cleansed from their skin.
After a good hosing, participants were served a tent full of treats while being serenaded by a singer/guitarist. So there you have it - fresh air, creative obstacles, laughter, food and music. Mud running, not a bad way to spend the morning with family and friends. The memories alone are worth the price of admission. Now I get it.
Want to see more photos? I posted 280+ of them on Facebook,
feel free to tag yourself or others.