A first-person account of the Copper Dirty Girl Mud Run (video)
I noticed a distinct earthy tone, with hints of grass and sand and maybe a bit of gravel.
Then I spit out my mouthful of mud.
Two weekends ago, three girlfriends and I got together for the Dirty Girl Mud Run at Copper. For most of us, it was our first time, and we were excited to take part in a phenomenon that has swept the running world — muddy obstacle races.
Normally, I’m red-faced, covered in sweat and sucking down water at the end of a race, not sampling the local soil with the discerning taste of a craft beer lover. Some people (Hi, mom!) thought I was crazy for doing this race, but there was just something about rolling around in a bunch of mud just for the hell of it that appealed to the kid in me, and I couldn’t pass it up.
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A couple awesome things about this race: It’s women only, so chalk one up for girl power; also, the race organizers partnered with Bright Pink, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to prevention and early detection of ovarian and breast cancer in young women. Getting dirty is one thing, but getting dirty for a good cause? Sign me up.
Fortunately for my lungs and muscles, this race was a quick 5K over gently-rolling terrain, for the most part. Unlike those Warrior Dashes and Spartan races in which dedicated athletes charge up mountains with logs across their shoulders, the main point of this race was to get muddy and have fun. Oh yeah, and jump over a pit of fire at the end.
The race started out easy enough, with pump-you-up music and dance move-inspired calisthenics. But, when we hit that first obstacle — a mud pit with a tent over it — everything changed.
You could hear the shrieks on approach as people first touched mud. I couldn’t help myself either — it was like stepping into an ice bucket.
First challenge completed, we ran/trudged to the next, legs dripping mud, toes curling in sluggish protest against the cold. Having chose the earliest run time at 9 a.m., the sun hadn’t had a chance to warm the air beyond Copper’s peaks, so jogging was important to keeping the blood flowing.
The next obstacle looked like the result of handing bouncy house blueprints to a sadist. Labeled the “Utopian Tubes,” this inflatable structure required us to crawl (or jump, for those like me who are vertically challenged) through a tube, then belly wriggle under an inflatable wall and then repeat about three times. That definitely got the blood flowing.
What came next? Mud. So much mud. Mud for miles.
We settled into a sort of routine. In between obstacles, we jogged (as well as one can with squishy mud in their shoes and what feels like pounds of mud embedded into the very fiber of one’s clothes, hair, etc.) and chatted. Then would come the anticipation as the next object loomed, the curiosity mixed with excitement and trepidation as we tried to figure out exactly what crazy thing we’d be doing next.
My personal best came at the “Down and Dirty” obstacle (Go figure). This featured a net strung across a mud pit, forcing you to get down on your hands and knees to crawl across. This is where I basically became the Swamp Thing (They say mud is good for your face), while one of my fellow teammates managed to get across with almost no mud on her shirt, like she’s some kind of wizard. I made sure to share my muddy glory with her soon afterward, however. Bear hugs for the win.
As with any race, and perhaps more so, the mud run was more than just going the distance and taking on the obstacles. It was about the camaraderie. Hundreds of participants showed up, and most were dressed in crazy, coordinating outfits. I saw every shade of pink imaginable, plus tutus, headbands, Sharpie tattoos and creative t-shirt one-liners galore. A few dedicated types cheered from the sidelines, while fellow runners encouraged each other.
Separated at times from my group, I fell in with other mud enthusiasts, commiserating about our hopelessly swampy shoes and discussing tactics for the “Slidin’ Dirty” and “Get Over Yourself” obstacles (cargo netting leading to a fire pole and a wooden wall with footholds, respectively).
Consensus among our group was that the “Dirty Dancing” obstacle (a giant inflatable slide into a huge pit of mud) was the most fun.
Even though you wouldn’t necessarily categorize this race as “serious,” I felt a serious sense of accomplishment when I climbed up the cargo netting of that last obstacle (“Get a Grip”) and rang the bell at the top. People cheered, I climbed down, leapt dramatically over the line of fire and had one more chance to wallow in mud before our group photo at the end. The showers at the end were a nice touch, too, once the water turned from “ice melt cold” to “actually warm.”
If you really want to know what it was like though, all you have to do is look at that picture of us at the end. We’re tired, we’re dirty and we’re all grinning like mad.
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