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!




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



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!


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?


One response to this post.

  1. Looks like a crazy run! Thanks for comments and your honesty about the race, nice to know and much appreciated. 🙂


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