McGuire Mud Run Race Recap: The Beast of the East

Now that my bruises and scrapes are (mostly) healed, it’s finally time to sit down and do my recap of the 2012 McGuire Mud Run. This annual 10k was held at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on September 8. Matt has run it for the past five years, and when he asked me to join his team for this year’s race, I didn’t hesitate. I figured I’d be in solid racing shape since it would be marathon training season, and it would be fun to do a mud race. I knew there were some obstacles, but I had no idea what I was in for.

ImageIn late summer, we started to get emails regarding the obstacles. There were 23 to be exact. This is about the time where I started to second guess my decision. I was joining an all-male team and would be scaling walls and climbing hills and crawling under and over various obstacles in the mud. I was pretty concerned I’d slow everyone down, and knew I would be extremely discouraged if I let that happen. So as I usually do with races I’m not really excited about, I avoided thinking of it until race weekend. I packed up old sneakers, cruddy running clothes, a change of clothes for after, and my waterproof camera, and we headed out to the base. The race was surprisingly well-organized. The bus ride over from the parking lot was pretty quick, and bib pick-up was a breeze. There were changing tents with an area for you to leave your post-race clean clothes. We had selected a wave time when we signed up, but since we were there early, we just hopped in with the next group starting. It didn’t feel overly crowded in the starting corral, which was a nice change of pace for most races I do. The website for the event said approximately 2,500 runners participated this year.

ImageRace day was pretty hot, and also raining off and on. The clouds soon parted and it turned into a very sunny and warm day. I was happy we had some tree coverage pretty soon along the course. The race looped all over the woods and roads of the base, which was huge! The volunteers were all energetic and seemed happy to be there, which I always appreciate. They were probably also happy to have a day off from duty. And I do suspect some of them were laughing at the muddy torture they were observing. Anyway. After maybe a half mile of running through a gravel trail in the woods, we hit our first obstacle, which involved ducking underin and climbing over some wooden fence structures. Not bad. I could 22 more of these I thought.

ImageNext up, we came to a field where lots of runners were waiting in line for the next obstacle, which involved laying on your back and scuttling under four humvees in a row. This seemed to be the theme of the race… hurry up and wait. I didn’t think this obstacle would be too bad. But I didn’t realize how little clearance you have under the cars. You have to use your shoulders to drag you along as you don’t have room to use your elbows or really get your butt in the air and use your feet. This might not have been so bad if I wasn’t in a tank top. I emerged from this one with bloody muddy shoulders. I’m still recovering from that one, and I’ve learned that next year I won’t be wearing a tank top to this race.

ImageOne of the tougher obstacles was a series of barricades set up as hurdles. Most people threw a leg up and propelled their body over the barricade. I had to modify this and go headfirst and jump on my stomach, then swing my legs over. It got me over, but it was exhausting and banged me up pretty well, especially considering there were so many of them! I swear the barricades went on for a quarter mile. Then they had them again later on with a series of tires to run through after. That one was tricky since I was tired and was tripping through the tires. There was a lot of wading through bogs, and at one point, we actually swam across a short lake. The bogs and swamps of course all smell like fertilizer, which only enhances the mud run experience. There were logs to walk over for balance, lots of hurdles and obstacles to climb over or crawl under, and lots and lots of climbing. I took a spill coming over one of the hurdles

There were several walls, some mogul-type hills with puddles on the other side, rope walls, and a couple big hills. The biggest hill was pretty steep and had a rope to grab if you needed help. Everyone at the bottom of the hill egged on the climbers cheered when they made it up rope-free. Of course I had to grab it halfway up. A smaller hill near the end actually proved to be much tougher, since it was completely made of mud. I kept sliding down it and basically ended up crawling on it on all fours and had to have Matt help pull me up at the top. There were two obstacles I just couldn’t get through and had to skip. I was disappointed, but I guess two out of 23 isn’t too bad. One was a wall that just didn’t make it possible to get a footing, and I don’t have the upper body strength to just pull myself over a wall. The other was a long set of monkey bars. I’ll need to work on my pull-ups before next year.

ImageThe mud was tough to get through since your shoes got stuck in it, which made it hard to pick up your feet. It also wasn’t super comfortable to run with extremely heavy clothes and mud in your shoes. One of our team members actually had his shoe come off in one of the mud pits.

While some of the obstacles were slow-going for me, I was able to keep up with the guys. And the running part seemed like a breeze after all the physical challenges on the course. When I was sure we were close to being done, we were told we had just hit the halfway point. It was a long race, mostly because of the waiting around. Every obstacle that involved participants going in a single line or one-at-a-time slowed things down considerably. But it provided a good chance to catch your breath and regroup before the next stretch.

There was a large set of sprinklers to run through right after the last obstacle and clean off a bit before the home stretch sprint. Then there were some uncomfortably cold showers at the end where you could rinse off in your clothes before getting changed. After rinsing off as much mud as possible and tossing all my wet gross clothes in a garbage bag, we all headed to a local diner, where milkshakes were had by all.

The run was definitely tougher than I expected, but it was a good time. I really enjoyed running with a group, which I have never done before. There were lots of runners decked out in costumes and goofy gear. It was also fun to do a run where time didn’t matter. We finished in 2:15, and I don’t really see how we could have done much better considering all the waiting we had to do. I would definitely be up for another mud run, but I think next year I’ll do a few more push-ups and dress a little better for the occasion. Check out more images in the slideshow below.

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