I don’t know how many of you have ever heard of a mud run, but I can assure you that it is one thing that you should definitely put on your bucket list. A mud run is essentially an outdoor obstacle course designed with numerous obstacles to challenge you physically (and mentally) ranging in lengths from three to eight miles or longer. And during the run… yes… you will get muddy.
Several friends and I completed the Monster Challenge mud run in Clermont, FL and I have to say that it was one of the best times I’ve ever had. There were people there of all age and fitness levels and I believe a good time has had by everyone there… I think. We started as a team, pushed each other through the run and finished as a team with a pretty good time on the clock. Of course a good friend sandbagged us crossing the finish line – you know who you are!
That being said I’d like to share our experience, how we prepared and some equipment and clothing suggestions in hopes that it will motivate you to 1) try a mud run and 2) give you at least one thing you didn’t know before that you may find useful. Most companies have their own website although there are a handful of sites where you can find most of the different mud runs in one place. They are:
If it’s your first mud run I would suggest a short 3-4 mile course and also doing it with a friend or group to help motivate you and each other. In preparing, you can certainly Google and find some great advice. However, I’m certain that there were some people that went into the run without any training once so ever and others that train year round. Do yourself a favor and at the very least look at some of the obstacles to prepare in advance. Here’s some advice in navigating some of the obstacles:
- If you sign up for an earlier wave time it won’t be as hot, you won’t have to wait in line as long for an obstacle and you may have more time to complete an obstacle.
- On the other side of the coin, waiting in line may give you time to watch others attempt an obstacle and give you a few ideas.
- If there are any water or mud hazards jump in feet first, don’t stop moving and try to run along the outside lip of the pit.
- Take your time and go at your own pace, but if you’re challenging yourself try not to stop running even if it’s a light jog as restarting those engines is harder after you start walking.
- And if you’re up to it, challenge yourself with the different difficulty levels on each obstacle (if available).
More important than the above is the equipment you take and the clothing you wear. I spent hours on the Internet reading mud run websites and blogs and engaging with others that shared my excitement and level of OCD (just kidding) and attention to detail. Hindsight being 20/20 I’m fairly pleased with what I did and did not bring or wear:
- Wear all non-cotton clothing from your socks down to your underwear. Cotton retains water that will drag you down and it chafes easily i.e. buy polyester, nylon, etc.
- I bought a cheap pair of all-terrain mud run shoes for $15 rather than a shoe that did not have any tread.
- Spandex shorts are a must to prevent from getting mud… well everywhere.
- Football gloves, which I picked up for five dollars, will definitely come in handy on a few obstacles for grip. If you get just one cut or blister I can assure you it will make the rest of the mud run slightly more uncomfortable.
- Lastly, I bought a waterproof underwater camera because I wanted to get pictures during the run of our group.
Do make sure that the clothing you wear is both tight and short. Baggy loose clothes will get snagged on things, inhibit your movement and still retain some water. I bought a pair of short running shorts, spandex and a short-sleeve dri-fit shirt available at any local retailer. Oh, you might want to think about trimming your finger and toenails because you will be finding mud and dirt everywhere after the race, long after you’ve showered… for days.
- Goggles to keep the mud and water out of your eyes… its not that bad.
- Earplugs to keep the mud and water out of your ears… really not needed.
- Expensive phones or cameras to take pictures… only if you’re prepared to lose it, damage it or have it slow you down.
- Sunglasses… more likely to get in the way than help you.
- Many people dressed up in costume and there were some great costumes or lack thereof. However, costumes will also slow you down in more ways thane one and I counted more than a few capes dropped to the side of the trail by some would-be superheroes.
I like taking pictures and going into the race I was concerned how I was going to do so. Would the camera get in the way, would I take the time to take pictures or even lose it? It actually worked out very well. I attached a disposable waterproof camera to one of those lanyards you get at conferences and tucked the camera down the back of my shirt so it wouldn’t get in the way when completing obstacles. I simply ran ahead of the group a few yards at different times and snapped pictures of them and my twin brother shared in taking some pictures. We’ve got some great pics of each of us on obstacles, goofing off in the swamps and some afterwards showing the post-race festivities. Good times with good friends… it could have been a beer commercial.
Although we completed all of the obstacles, there were several obstacles
that were very hard and some that were sheer fun like the three-story water slide. My favorite obstacle was the “Curvy Creature” wall climb where I finally reached the peak after 4-5 attempts. My brother, having just seen me conquer it, knew he wasn’t leaving until he did the same… and he did. As a matter of fact our group even made the promo video for the Monster Challenge so I would say our first mud run was a definitive success and we all had a great time.
Now, you will have to bring the some common-sense items like a change of clothes. I would also recommend old beach towels to dry off, a little bit of cash, a couple gallons of water, a trash bag for your dirty clothes, some extra towels to protect the interior of your car and perhaps a cooler full of your favorite beverages. And don’t worry about all the mud and dirt coming clean from your shoes and clothes. Just soak them a few times, wash and their as good as new for your next run!
The good news is that most companies that organize these mud runs do a really good job providing staff photographers throughout the entire course, shower stations, music, food and entertainment. And what a great place to meet new friends, friends with whom you have scaled walls, traversed waist-deep swamps and crawled through barbed wire together… in the mud. Many of the mud run companies also have a kids’ run for free or at little cost so I can’t wait to get my nieces and our friends’ kids together to share the fun. Additionally, most of them will provide you upon completion a mud run shirt, free drink, perhaps a custom tote bag and most importantly your badge of honor… a medal.
A huge thanks to Monster Challenges for organizing a flawless mud run, post-event activities and the complementary “cold” beer we enjoyed after wards that I think was the best beer ever in the history of cold beers… on a hot day… after a mud run. We look forward to many more runs and as I mentioned in the beginning I hope you’ve been motivated to try a mud run and were able to take away just one thing that you’ll find useful in what I hope will be the first of many mud runs for you.
BY: Cory Prado