On Saturday Kimberly and I participated in the Dirty Girl Mud Run. Although labeled Indianapolis, it was actually held at a paintball venue in Anderson, which was more convenient for both of us since it’s a lot closer. I was looking forward to the race beforehand, but as the day got closer and the days got colder, I was a little apprehensive. How much mud could there be with freezing temps (answer: a freakin lot)?
The morning of the race I met Kimberly in Fort Wayne. We did 4 fast (for me) miles, then loaded in to the car with coffee and snacks. The drive to Anderson was just 1.5 hours, which was awesome. We found the paintball place without any trouble. Registration and gear check was set up in a big field that was already pretty muddy.
It was relatively well-marked, but also a little confusing. While the volunteers were very friendly, they didn’t necessarily offer extra information, such as “here’s your bib but you’ll get your safety pins down at gear check,” which meant we did some unnecessary backtracking looking for things. In terms of “flow” it was a little, ahem, muddy. Strangely enough, the hardest thing to find was the start line! We followed a group of ladies and got some help from a volunteer. It was tucked behind a lot of things, including some tank trucks, and completely unlabeled, from what I could tell.
We had signed up for the 9:15am wave, but since nobody asked when we had signed up and we were ready at 9am, we just started then. The first half mile or so was through the forest. This part wasn’t very muddy – more a trail through the woods. We tried to run where we could but it was narrow and a lot of people were walking. The first obstacle was climbing up a huge inflatable pyramid and bouncing down the other side. The next obstacle was climbing up an inflatable pyramid again… but this time you slid down a giant slide into a vat of ice cold muddy water. This was actually pretty fun, although it would have been more fun if it was actually warm out (it was about 35 degrees). A volunteer at the bottom helped you up, which was nice. It was also smart to place this obstacle early in the race, as it forced you to get wet and muddy!
We did a few more obstacles – a waist high wade through a tub of more ice cold mud water, over some muddy hills, up and over a couple walls and across a rope net. Then we hit a long, open stretch of field. The course zigzagged over the field, which would have been fine if we could have run, but the mud was literally up to our ankles, making running difficult or impossible. We were forced to walk much of this, which was slow and tedious. In addition, the field also smelled distinctly of cow manure. We ended up walking back and forth across three or four different fields, with only a few obstacles scattered in between. This was by far the worst part of the course. Fighting across shoe-sucking mud got old, fast, especially when it was 3 miles worth. We saw several ladies who cut across the course and honestly, I can understand why they did. This part of the mud run wasn’t really fun, except Kimberly and I kept each other laughing.
There were a few more walls to climb up and over, some obstacles to climb under, and a long tube in the mud to crawl through. Also: more ankle-deep mud. Then we were at the finish line, which was a quick run through a long vat of knee-deep water. We finished in just about an hour, which was pretty good considering how slow we had to go through the fields.
Afterwards we picked up our bag from gear check and headed to the area where you could clean up and get changed. We were hoping for actual showers, even if they were community, but instead got a line of garden hoses on a tarp. The water was freezing cold! We got relatively clean, although it was definitely more of a thorough rinsing and not anything that allowed soap. Afterwards we changed in a large tent with tarp floors. Water was already starting to come up through the floors, which made us glad we were there early (I imagine later this was a disaster zone)! Changing clothes when you’re damp, freezing cold, your hands are completely numb, and you’re trying to balance and not fall in puddles of water is a special kind of challenging, let me tell you. We ended up keeping our old shoes on until we got to the car, since the venue field was now a soupy, muddy mess (spectators basically were forced into a bit of mud run themselves!). We cleaned our feet off as best we could at the car and left our shoes in the field, since we didn’t want to put them in the car and we didn’t want to slog back through the mud to put them in the donation bin.
Afterwards we grabbed lunch at Panera (warm soup! hot coffee!), stopped behind Walmart so I could pump in the car, ran a hilarious errand for Kimberly, then headed home.
Overall, I had fun, but I think this was mostly because I got to hang out with Kimberly, who I love spending time with. The race itself would have been more fun if it were a little warmer (not their fault!) and if there had been more opportunity to run rather than endless fields to walk across. There were some awesome-looking food trucks at the venue, which would have been cool to try post-race, but at that point we were just wanting to get out of the mud, not slop around in more of it.
In general, I think the mud run is a great idea. I actually love that it was all women and that it wasn’t timed. It felt really encouraging and accepting of all women. There was a wide range of ages and athletic abilities represented, which was really cool. It would be fun to do with a group of friends, for sure. However, the execution felt a little… slapdash. The venue wasn’t set up very intuitively and the race course could have been more creative. Facebook showed that others were frustrated by the fields, too, and that past years and other locations had more opportunity for running (which would definitely make it more fun!). I will say though the obstacles were fun and the volunteers friendly. The general mood was upbeat, too.
For not running I was surprisingly sore on Sunday morning from fighting to keep my balance in the mud! I’m not sure I would do the mud run again, although I’m definitely glad I’ve done it once. And I’m really glad I got to do it with Kimberly!
Disclosure: I am an ambassador for the Dirty Girl Mud Run Indianapolis, and I was provided an entry to the event free of charge in exchange for a blog post (in March) and a race review. Opinions are honest and written by me.