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.
“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.