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‘Tis the season for non-traditional endurance events. They’re all the rage these days, ranging from hardcore mountain-biking to fire leaping to city scavenger hunts that are a spin on the traditional bar crawl.

Last summer I inserted a new event into my half-marathon schedule to do something a little out of the norm and a little more dirty. I can’t remember if it was my idea or my friend Laura’s, but we registered for the Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride & Run Series which took place at Harriman State Park, NY.

We wore our chapter’s Team in Training triathlon suits, but some people got really decked out. From matching team running gear to full-out costumes like Buzz and Woody, pirates, ballerinas and superheroes.

Laura and I registered as a team, meaning that we’d complete the 5 mile course as bike/run/bike/run, or run/bike/run/bike, switching off at every obstacle. I started on the bike, and she started running. The course was mostly trails through a park, with exposed tree roots, lots of rocks and was uphill the entire way. Or felt like it. I even fell twice, cutting myself and bleeding, once tripping over a tree root while running on the trail, and once just standing over my own bike.

You got to the first obstacle, (a high balance beam slippery with mud) dropped off the bike, completed it, then ran on to the next obstacle. (A metal wall you climb over with a net to climb down on the other side) Your running teammate reached the first obstacle after you, completed it, then found and picked up the bike that you decorated to make it easier to find, passed you along the way and continued on to the next obstacle where they dropped off the bike. Following?

Upon completing the course over the river, through the woods and obstacles, you finished together by crawling through a mud pit. A smelly, knee gashing, thick, gross mud pit. We felt abandoned sneakers and t-shirts in the mud, while what felt like ground up sea-shells dug into and cut up our knees. Yet we laughed the entire way while trudging our way through, trying not to breathe through our noses. I even captured the entire event on a helmet cam.

It was a lot of fun, but we agreed that next time we’d do it as individuals instead of as a team so we could do the whole course together instead of leap-frogging.

Afterwards, we hosed off the mud in a field where a tanker truck was stationed with 50 hoses spurting water. The men took much longer than the ladies…just sayin’.

It was a great experience, and the only thing we wish was different, other than not doing it as a team, was the obstacles. They could’ve been a little harder. And we wish we received medals. However, the levels of dirtiness and belly laughter were more than acceptable.

Have you done a dirtier non-traditional race? Which one(s), and would you do it again?

A fellow Etsian who’s training to run some 5k’s herself, GeeZees, creates personalized canvas art and recently created this for her husband who participated in Tough Mudder in April. Read her blog post here. This is a great gift or something to hang on your own wall to commemorate your non-traditional race!

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