Conquer the Biggest Mud Runs
If you think an ordinary 5,000-meter race is kind of boring, just add water. And dirt. Then throw in a few military-style obstacles for good measure, and you’ve got a mud run. It’s part serious, grueling athletic competition, and part excuse for thousands of people to act like kindergarteners. Mud runs are booming in popularity, and popping up in different forms -- and degrees of difficulty -- around the country.
“It’s slower to run in than a road race. And a lot messier. So you don’t care about time, you just compare yourself to how your friends do,” says Jim Gallivan, who entered the Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run outside Los Angeles this spring, wearing a Beetlejuice costume -- complete with white makeup. (He won a prize for it, by the way.)
Gallivan was one of 3,000 competitors in the sold-out event, which is part of a series of Down and Dirty races -- all in their first year of existence -- being held in four cities in 2010. Another brand-new set of races is the Tough Mudder, which considers itself more punishing than the rest. It doesn’t keep track of entrants’ times, because the goal is just to finish. It’s organizing four events this year and 11 (including an overall championship) next year.
Both the Down and Dirty and Tough Mudder owe their startup success to the granddaddy of mud runs: the Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series, created in 1999 and drawing more than 40,000 entrants for its 18 annual competitions. It’s the least intense of the three. “We try to make our competitions as user-friendly as possible. We want just about anybody to be able to do this,” says Bob Babbitt, the Muddy Buddy founder.
Here’s a rundown of each series -- what each event involves and what’s expected of you:Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run
Fitness level:All levels
Competitors per team:2
Equipment:One bike per team, running shoes
The competition:Each team completes a 6- to 7-mile course that has five obstacles (like crawling on a cargo net, scaling a low wall or crossing a set of monkey bars). Team member No. 1 rides the bike on the dirt course while Team member 2 runs it, until they reach and complete the first obstacle. The team members then switch running and riding duties. The final challenge before reaching the finish line is to crawl through a massive mud bog. If you can run 3 miles in an hour, you can physically compete in this race.
Average race time:One hour
Benefits:Challenged Athletes Foundation
Merrell Down and Dirty National Mud Run Series