Sunday, April 22, 2012

USMC Mud Run, Take Two

I've done a couple different Warrior Dashes, a Rugged Maniac, the Muddy Buddy, and now I've done the USMC Mud Run for the second time in less than a year.  The USMC Mud Run is by far the toughest of these events (there are a few others that are tougher than this, but certainly none more competitive).

This course is 5.2 miles in length and contains a whopping 36 obstacles.  Of these, many are impossible without teamwork, so this is a four person team event only.  Only a handful are fairly easy with the rest being moderate to difficult.  By contrast, I'd say most of the Warrior Dash and Rugged Maniac obstacles are fairly easy, with just a few moderate ones and no difficult ones.  That's what separates this event from the rest.

Both of my experiences with this race were with the same, Alan, Michael, and Kenny.  All of us run a decent amount, with me the slowest of the bunch.  Fortunately I hold my own just fine on the obstacles, but it's nice that we have a variety of body types on our team.  Michael and I are larger and a little stronger than Alan and Kenny, but that's good because those two are lighter and easier to lift and carry.  You need a good mix in this race, not just a bunch of huge guys.

Last year we were 13th out of 84 corporate teams, and I believe 77th overall out of around 2200 teams.  Looks like this year the event was a little smaller at only 1500 teams, but we were 43rd overall and 7th out of 58 corporate teams.  We finished in 1:20 last year and 1:08 this year, but we think the course this year was a little bit longer thanks to having a couple more tough obstacles that were closed last year.  So we did a lot better.  Part of that was due to Alan having a small fall last year that required a few minutes of medical attention, but part was also our familiarity with the course and some better execution.  And we were probably in a little bit better shape.

This course gets you soaked in mud at the very first obstacle, and keeps soaking you in mud all the way through.  For example, to get all the grit out of some thin Smartwool socks requires rinsing thoroughly (including turning them inside out and rinsing).  Then wash with them inside-out to start with (on an extra-rinse cycle).  Then turn them back right-side-out and wash them AGAIN.  That's the only way.  Good trail shoes can be recovered from this event.  The process is remove the insole and rinse after the event.  Let dry.  Shake shake shake everything you can out of them.  Then use some decent water pressure to hose them out.  Then soak them in hot water for a while.  Shake them out and rinse them again.  Then run them through a washing machine if you can.  Then let them air dry.  Then run in them a couple times, and wash them again.  That usually gets the last of the grit out.  I generally keep an old almost worn-out pair of shoes around just for this kind of race.  As you can see, it's very hard on them.

What do you wear?  Ideally something thin and tight.  I wear triathlon tights, a compression dry-fit shirt, dry-fit headband (keeps SOME of the goop from running down your forehead and into your eyes, but only some), Smartwool socks, and trail shoes.  Wearing anything more is just more for the goop to stick to and weigh you down.  And the fine folks at the USMC Mud Run have some muddy concoction that will stick to anything.  It's quite spectacular.

After this race, I'm pretty beat up.  The best you can hope for in this race is the most thorough exfoliation you've ever had.  Particularly the shins and knees...those simply feel raw.  Most folks leave with some small amount of bleeding in that area, which was what happened to Alan and Kenny.  I think Michael and I escaped that, but that's just luck more than anything.  We were all incredibly wiped out otherwise, but very happy with our result.  I do think, though, that we might be over the last of our urges to do mud races like this.  They're a lot of fun, but quite hard on you.  At least for this year, it's time to turn my attention to Leadville training...

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