Mud Runs

This summer, I gave in to an increasingly popular trend: mud runs. Prior to these runs, I ran only occasionally and had never participated in a competitive run. In fact, the longest distance I had ever run without stopping was two miles! While I was skeptical at first, I eventually gave in to the pleading of coworkers and friends and signed up for the Dirty Girl run and the Chicago Hell Run.

Mud runs are typically adult obstacle courses that involve, well, mud and running. For those of us who grew up watching Nickelodeon, mud runs are an opportunity to relive the excitement of Double Dare and Nickelodeon Guts (sadly, without Marc Summers or Mike O’Malley). Some mud runs are timed, such as the Hell Run, while others are simply for enjoyment and team participation, like the Dirty Girl. 

The Dirty Girl is a 5K mud run (not a race!) exclusively for women. A portion of all registration fees are donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The charity aspect of this run is what really convinced me to participate.

Before the run, I started training by running two to three miles at least two to three times a week. Knowing it was not a race, I didn’t worry about timing my runs because I was more concerned about actually making it through the 5K without walking than I was about how fast I’d go.

The Dirty Girl came just a short week after I had returned from a two-week honeymoon filled with lots of heavy food and lazing on the beach. Oops. However, the run wasn’t as bad as I had pictured. I ran with two Marquette coworkers and it was a lot of fun to get together as a team outside of work.

We got extremely filthy as we traversed pools of mud and scaled mountains of dirt and hay. We really tested ourselves climbing the cargo net and giant blow-up mountain that was slippery from all the water and mud. In the end, we really enjoyed the teamwork aspect of the run. While challenging, we got through it together and made some lasting memories.

As if the Dirty Girl wasn’t enough, I decided to run with a friend in the Chicago Hell Run. The Hell Run is also a 5K mud run, but is open to both men and women. Slightly more competitive than the Dirty Girl, the Chicago Hell Run was timed and had more obstacles to overcome. Proceeds from the Hell Run support LIVESTRONG, which is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

We ran the first heat of the day and luckily avoided the rain, but only the natural rain. Almost as soon as we began, we were met with smiling volunteers that sprayed us with water hoses. As we progressed, I discovered the Hell Run was much more challenging than the Dirty Girl. We had to climb over a car junkyard, scale a rope wall and jump over a flaming fire. Yes, a fire. In the end, we finished in 44 minutes and were pleasantly surprised to see that the performer for the day was none other than Coolio.

So, that was my experience with mud runs. Is it for you? I would recommend starting small and doing research to find a mud run that is suitable for you. Train beforehand! Be prepared to run a lot and get really dirty. Be aware that your shoes will be soaking wet the entire run, so if that sort of thing grosses you out, perhaps a mud run is not for you. However, the nice thing about these runs is you almost always have the option to walk some, if not all, of the course, as well as avoid any obstacles that are particularly daunting. Either way, it is an opportunity to practice teamwork and have fun while doing it. You can do it!

We even got medals!

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