MUD RUN: Spartan Race Pits Man vs… Everything


With the Giants losing and A-Rod doomed to surgery, I thought it best to talk about something else. Hence… Mud Run.

MALIBU, CA – My wife, the gorgeous Mrs. WCC, is a crazy person. She’s taken her fitness to near Cookie levels. But instead of triathlons, she’s discovered her true calling(s) are mud runs. They’ve been popular for a few years now, so it was with a little ironic fun that she and her pal signed up as Team Angry Unicorns (F*ck Rainbows) and did a Rugged Maniac out in the desert back in August.

A lark turned into something else the second some long legged girl-teen went past her, and at some point—perhaps a suspended instant when she flung herself into a slick hill slide that launched her fifteen feet out over the girl staring up from the pool below, into the bracing, baptismal splashdown on the other side—she was converted. Mud Runs had become her thing and like a true believer, she preached the gospel at BBQs and dinner parties, enthralled our friends and made it sound… fun. She got everyone excited to participate in something called a Spartan Sprint this past Sunday and the winter layer has been winning lately, so I needed a reason to get off the couch.

What the…how do you get a jacket like that in Malibu?

“It’s a painfully squirming, dragging, rolling, abrasive and bloody slag that leaves no part of your body unscathed.”

As far as a first mud run goes, your humble West Coast Correspondent did not get cheated. This has been an L.A. December Raymond Chandler could remember; foggy and rainy. Out in the shrouded hills of Malibu is was downright chilly.

We were one of the last groups on the second day, and killed the time by standing around in the rain, discussing anthropological theories about how people end up standing around in the rain. Something to do with our species being mere generations removed from the industrial revolution and thus preternaturally anxious and in need of outlets like this…and playing in mud is fun.

I contemplated using the rows of splattered Porta-Potties before deciding I didn’t really need to make up for that missed morning constitutional... a decision at the risk of turning this into a true “Mud Run.

When our time came the course was at its muckiest and sunset was a tangible threat. Yet we lined up in the chute. The announcer entertained us with the same stories (he saw a bone coming out of a leg just yesterday!) before giving way to another guy in a Spartan cape and a rather metro-sexual beard and the impassioned Spartan speech, saying “you’ll go where nobody has gone before…” just as he has every half hour for the last two days.

Then, with shouting, chanting, the Dropkick Murphys and sulfuric smoke bombs leading the way, the race was on. Up around the first turn, a murky pond you plunge in up to your neck. A harsh wake-up-call, bodies flailing everywhere, before scampering up the embankment on the other side. The hills of Malibu are predominantly clay, which sucks and grips to your shoes, adding another layer of skate to the soles. And there are a lot of hills. All along the course you pass racers flopped over, desperately pulling at their legs as though gripped by quicksand. It’s a friendly crowd of goons attracted to Mud Runs; the expected shirtless dudes showing off their gym muscles, hairy freaks, chunky people looking to prove something, Lucha Libre masks and chicks in tight wet Wonder Woman shirts. People are happy to help each other or allow you a little time to get over your vertigo at the top of a twenty foot high rope pyramid.


There are 15 obstacles all together; some as easy as swinging over a wall. But there others – like the monkey bars – where if you’re me, you simply fail and take the thirty burpee penalty. Those add up. Then there are the annoying obstacles, like strapping a rubber band around your ankles and bunny hopping in and out of the muck up around a bend, or carrying a sandbag up and down a spur and over a wall, or trying to throw a spear—a bent poker on the end of a broomstick—into a hay bale, the kind of thing that would make for a profitable carny game. None, however, is as cruel as the barbed wire, which runs not through mud but over jagged rocks. Uphill. For what feels like the length of a football field, and with log jams of people stuck in front of you. It’s a painfully squirming, dragging, rolling, abrasive and bloody slag that leaves no part of your body unscathed. I managed to stay on my feet after that, though, until the final chute, leaping over a fire and getting past a gang of male strip club dancers with American Gladiator jousting sticks. Any sexual confusion at this—and there were a surprising number of goombahs who played out their latent urges by trying to mud wrestle these guys—was whisked away when one of them swept my legs like Cobra Kai, and sent me crashing into another hay bale, bloodying my shin.


I was battered, bruised, scraped, muddy and wet and physically shivering now that I wasn’t moving any more, but victory was mine…well, not exactly victory (I finished in 1:21, my animal wife finished just over an hour, tenth out of 999 women, and all she can do is bemoan all the slow people she was stuck behind, and that the earlier runners had a firmer track), but there was a complimentary beer waiting. It was almost as cold as the hoses for rinsing off. My wife has already signed us up for next year.

Angry Ward, tomorrow.

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About the Author ()

West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a “Valley” hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been “So very L.A.” for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear… with his hand.

  • Sounds like dirty business to us.

  • Amy2ndRow

    Everything you describe tells me NOT to do this, but at the same time it makes me WANT to do this.

  • Sounds like masochistic fun to me. An all expense paid trip by management for one of these is in order if we can get Lori Levine to participate in a bikini. Mud is good for the complexion.

    • Doc Diz

      it’s better when it hurts a little

      • Cam_James

        thats what she said.

    • You’re not tough enough, Cheesy. You’d never be able to take… Lori in a bikini.

  • AngryWard

    This whole thing reminds me of the SCTV bit, The Grapes of Mud.

    • Wow! That’s a blast from the beer-goggled past!

    • WestCoastCraig

      One of my all time faves! I’m gonna get me ten chicken fried steaks, and I’m gonna wear ’em like a hat!

    • Last night’s game was a “Fistful of Ugly”.

  • We were set to do the Tough Mudder in October but drank our waistlines past the requisite sizes. We regret that now, as we’re getting fatter and lazier in the dark of winter. Lent can’t come soon enough and it’s only the first week of December…

    Changing gears, Mrs. Matt is doing cartwheels this morning – and no, it’s not because Tall Matt is out of town… She’s ecstatic because Redskins beat the Giants. But let us just say this, Mrs. Matt: The Jints gave that one away with 75 penalties and a missed field goal. This 7-5 Giants team is not going to buckle under!!!

    • P.s… Superb back to back days of prose pros!

    • WestCoastCraig

      All true, couldn’t help but feel a little like a forced MNF coronation for RGIII, who seems to be grooming the post game, one-day-at-a-time patter pretty well.

  • I will be on my couch having a beer and yelling at the tv. That count for anything.

    • WestCoastCraig

      Junoir I’ve seen your picture, you’ve got a natural protective layer…you’re built for one of these!

  • WCC. Congrats to you Sir Spartan! And that’s quite some woman Mrs. WCC is! BIG kudos to her!!

    I have friends who told me about this whole genre a few years back and I almost bit.. .the Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, etc. Mr. Cookie did a Tough Mudder this year and while I was tempted.. in that race.. if you can’t do an obstacle.. you can just walk around it… which kinda made me shrug my shoulders. There’s also some electrical fence field you have to crawl thru.. which in my mind was a bit of a “WHY?!?’ I don’t think taking electricity warrants any physical prowess.

    Alas.. it’s all getting you (collective) off your duff.. so that’s excellent and I approve. I’m sure i’ll eventually bite on one of these.. but the overwhelming fear is turning my ankle and trashing my tri season. So.. we shall see.

    Soldier on Spartan…

    • WestCoastCraig

      There’s no question you could do it, and would probably love it. This was actually a prelude for Mrs. WCC, who’s doing the 13 mile Spartan in January with her visiting sister, a trainer, so there’s going to be a lot of sisterly competition. Tough Mudder is impressive enough at that length, but I didn’t know there was no penalty for not doing the obstacles…weak!

  • AngryWard

    The only mud contest I’m participating in is the kind Dewey Oxberger did in “Stripes.”

    • WestCoastCraig

      I was thinking about that clip, didn’t you or somebody already use it before?

  • i like mud

  • Grote2Dmax

    Good gracious this sounds like a nightmare. Thank goodness my wife has zero interest in this insanity.

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