Archive for July, 2014

Dirty Donkey Mud Run 2014

When I got to my most recent race, this was the sight that greeted me:

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Oh goodness.

I’m not a girly girl, but I’m not a messy girl either. I don’t mind working hard and getting dirty, but hard manual labour wouldn’t be my first choice, and I do like being clean and having nice hair. I heard about the Dirty Donkey Mud Run a year ago after several friends ran the inaugural event. I had gone back and forth for a year about whether or not to try it. I knew the race itself would be fun, but it was the clean-up and potential to have to drive an hour and a half home still wet and muddy that made me hesitate.

After hearing the 2014 event, held at Blackstrap Provincial Park, was partially sponsored by Powered By Chocolate Milk, I felt like I better check it out a little more. The price made me gulp – $75 for a 5K?! Well, I reasoned, it would be an expensive event to put on – obstacles, staff, insurance, park fees, clean-up, plus all the regular costs races incur – permits, food, shirts, port-o-let rentals, etc. Okay, okay, I thought, I’ll sign up and give it a try.

Then came the option to pre-purchase a race shirt. What? Why would I buy a race shirt when I’ll get one in my race kit? Maybe the runner swag wasn’t a shirt, I reasoned, but decided to hold off on the purchase until I saw what we’d get in our package. Pre-paying for park admission plus the race parking fee was also recommended. Huh. I’ve done other races in parks with admission fees before, and admission has always been either sponsored by the park, or included in the race fee (for spectators as well!). I have also never incurred an additional parking fee set out by the race itself, but what choice did I have at this point?

I arrived for race kit pick-up and waited in line for at least twenty minutes. Not a huge deal, but some better organization could have shortened the lines a lot. I got my bib – just a bib, no shirt, no coupons, no nothing. I bought a parking stub (I have a seasonal Provincial park admission pass, so I didn’t need to buy an entry permit), and briefly checked out the merchandise table. I would have loved to have a shirt, but was pretty annoyed that it would cost me an extra $20, so didn’t buy one just on principle.

Race morning was hot and humid. Because I didn’t register until the week before, I had to wait until 12:30 for my heat. My friend Mel and several of her friends were finishing their heat as I arrived, so I got a preview of what I had to look forward to!

Lookin' good Mel!

Lookin’ good Mel!

The kids and I ate our packed lunch and visited the Powered By Chocolate Milk tent before I had to head to my starting corral. I got scanned in and the kids went to tackle the obstacles at the PBCM Contender’s Lounge. This was a pretty neat feature that kept them busy for a long time while they waited!

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My Mom took some before pics for me:

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Proudly Powered By Chocolate Milk!

Proudly Powered By Chocolate Milk!

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#PBCM!

#PBCM!

… and we checked out the final obstacle right before the finish line:

Seriously?!

Seriously?!

I chatted with some other runners in the starting corral and met a group of runners who had done the race last year. The men were wearing gloves and that kind of scared me a bit! If their experience the previous year had made them decide they should wear gloves this year, what were my sensitive massage therapist hands in for?

The horn sounded and we were off down the trail. The first obstacle we came to was several of last year’s hay bales stacked up that we were to climb over. Last year’s hay by this time of year has mostly become moldy hay, so that was interesting. On the other side of the bales waited a mud and water pit. Might as well jump right in I decided, so I did. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, and then we were off down the trail again to a webbing in the trees. Under the webbing, through a slough and up the side of Blackstrap Mountain. This is a man-made mountain which is pretty tame as far as ski hills go, but pretty intense as far as running hills go!

Photo credit cbc.ca

Photo credit cbc.ca

After coming back down the mountain we came to the slip n’ slide. This is also where the front runners from our heat caught up to the back of the heat that had started a half hour before us. The slip n’ slide was a one-by-one obstacle, and the next person couldn’t start until the person in front was clear of the mud at the bottom. It was my favourite obstacle as far as being fun, but the 15-20 person line-up caused a big time delay for those of us actually hoping to get a half decent time. After waiting 10-15 minutes here, I was able to pass quite a few people at the next obstacle, a zig-zagging balance beam. Two other speedy people from my heat and I got backed up again at the vertical wall climb. We cleared the 4′ and 6′ walls easily but faced a big line up at the 8′ wall. It had foot holds to help people climb it, but right next to it was the flat 8′ wall from the more extreme version of the race, which had been run earlier in the day. We quickly decided to choose that wall instead and boosted each other over. This allowed us to pass at least another ten people and head off into the trees again.

We came to several more things, such as tunnels, more walls, a mud-filled dumpster (tokens good for Running Room gift cards at the bottom apparently. Some people spent ages searching for them!), a pallet drag and a maze.

Mud dumpster, some searching for tokens. (Photo credit Kelly Morton Photography)

Mud dumpster, some searching for tokens. (Photo credit Kelly Morton Photography)

The last couple of obstacles were up on the hill we’d started on. This was nice, because it gave spectators something to watch, and friends and families could see their runners complete the last few challenges and finish the race.

Semi climb

Semi climb

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The last thing was a very wet, very muddy pit covered with chain link fencing. Before my start time, I’d watched runners hesitating for ages before this obstacle, trying to decide how to get through the pit without getting too muddy. The way I saw it, we’d already done so much, why hesitate now? I slid through on my back, holding on to the fence and just trying to keep my hair from getting too muddy. I jumped up on the other side and ran through the finish with a huge smile. Officials recorded my bib number for timing, and I was handed a Hoo Rag finisher’s award.

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My daughter keeping her distance!

My daughter keeping her distance!

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I went fairly quickly to the hosing off line before the mud dried and caked on. Funny, the guy running the hose didn’t seem to mind that he was getting wet and kind of muddy himself. This being a mostly female event, he seemed to be quite enjoying himself!

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Muddy shoes to be cleaned and donated.

Muddy shoes to be cleaned and donated.

Post-race recovery with a chocolate milk!

Post-race recovery with a chocolate milk!

I tossed my shoes in the donation pile and we headed down to the lake for a swim. All the finish line food was being sold from food trucks, there was no food for runners included in our fees. This again irritated me, and I was glad I had packed snacks for all of us! We sat on the beach and played in the water for a while before heading home. A huge storm had been brewing and we got out of there in the nick of time (several of the later race heats were delayed due to lightning and tornado sightings nearby!). After responding to my husband’s worried text that we were fine, we dropped my Mom off in the city and headed home.

All in all, I had fun. This was a good race to do once, but I won’t rush out to do another one. I know several friends who ran this as their first 5K or had used this as a reason to start hitting the gym more often, and that’s fantastic. I had a blast, but for me the cons outweigh the pros. The steep fee plus the additional costs for everything that is usually included in a race fee (parking, food, race shirt) annoyed me enough that I will leave this race off my calendar next year. The Hoo Rag at the finish was great, but not enough to redeem it for me.

Have you ever done a mud run or other obstacle adventure race? Would you do it again?

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Boogie!

Last year, when I turned 30, I made a list of forty things to do before I turn forty. One of them was to run a 5K with my Dad. I was concerned about his health, and he’d run with me when I was in high school, so I thought it would be fun. He was less than enthused when I told him about this list item, but I suggested the 2014 Bridge City Boogie anyway, pointing out that he had over a year to prepare. Months went by without either of us mentioning it again, and I figured this list item would be one that would take a few years to cross off.

Then, early in the winter of 2013, my Dad decided to retire (again). He and my Mom dedicated themselves to improving their health and fitness and became regulars at the Saskatoon Field House. Before long, Dad was texting me several times a week to tell me of his running progress on the Field House track.

After a few months of walk/run intervals, Dad mentioned the Bridge City Boogie. The race took place just a few days after his 65th birthday, so I signed us both up as part of his birthday gift.

The course for the Bridge City Boogie had been changed this year, due to construction at the usual start/finish point. After a half mile or so the race was to move from the street onto the Meewasin Trail. The portion of the trail near Prairieland Park is unpaved, mostly sand and small gravel. I was a little taken aback that a race with 3500 runners in three distances would be run largely on an unpaved trail, but you do what you gotta do.

Race morning dawned warm and sunny, but with a threat of rain moving in in the distance. We met early to debate clothing choices (did I inherit this paranoia of choosing the wrong clothes, or has it rubbed off on him?), avoid porta potty lines and take some pictures.

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A soon to be new 5K runner!

A soon to be new 5K runner!

The 5K had been split into two starting waves to avoid the 2000 5K runners from all hitting that narrow trail at the same time, and we just squeezed into the first wave. It would have been nice to have people seeded by approximate pace at the start line, so the faster runners in the second wave didn’t run into so much traffic as they caught and attempted to pass the first wave runners. As we waited for the start a Zumba instructor led us all in a warm-up, and the rain that had been threatening to fall did just that. It didn’t last long, and was over by the time we were ready to run.

Start line selfie!

Start line selfie!

We set off along the same street we’d started on for the Saskatchewan Marathon just two weeks prior. My friend Glenda was running with her young son and we warned him and my Dad about the potholes we’d experienced previously, but they’d been fixed (kind of)! We passed two other entertainment groups, another Zumba group (this one led by my instructor!), and a singer/dancer group. People were spread out some by the time we went onto the trail, but it was still pretty crowded.

I had promised Dad I’d run at his pace, and I waved to friends I saw along the way. We came to a Dirty Donkey Mud Run sponsored water station, which is sponsored by Powered By Chocolate Milk. They had a PBCM sign on the side of the trail so I stopped for a quick selfie with it, promising Dad I’d catch up to him.

Powered By Chocolate Milk! #pbcm

Powered By Chocolate Milk! #pbcm

About this time, Dad’s heart rate monitor started going off. Again. And again. And again. He said he felt fine, but was worried about the monitor and didn’t want to push it. We walked for a ways up a hill until he got mad that the walking was wrecking his pace. I commented that his heart was likely more important than his pace, but I don’t think that was the answer he was looking for. 😉

We carried on, side by side. I had this vision of those classic finish line pictures of two runners with clasped hands raised in the air in victory, and about ten metres from the finish I started to reach out to grab Dad’s hand to do just that. I was grinning ear to ear and so proud of him – and then he said “I’m going to beat you!” and took off! I was so caught off guard and shocked that he did just that. He turned around and pointed at me and said to the finish line photographer, “I beat her!” Well. I guess all that sportsmanship stuff he taught me in my younger years went out the window. Never mind that I ran with him the whole way like the supportive daughter I am, he was thrilled to be one second faster and therefore ahead of me in the results list.

We visited some of the finish line tents and had some food before heading home.

For Mizuno's #ifeverybodyran campaign.

For Mizuno’s #ifeverybodyran campaign.

“Same place next year!” Dad said enthusiastically. Sure, Dad, but next year I’m going to beat you!

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