Toughest Mudder Central Review

It all started in 2011 when I was provoked by a Facebook challenge: “Are you tough enough?” I clicked the link and found an advertisement for Tough Mudder, a 10-12 mile race with military-style obstacles. Crawling under barbed wire, sloshing through mud pits, traversing monkey bars, this was the coolest thing I had seen in years!  I immediately signed up and brought new life into my training regimen. I had a goal, to crush Tough Mudder. That Mudder taught me many lessons and I have made many changes and corrections to both my training and pre-race prep. Recently came a new challenge, Toughest Mudder. A 12 hour, overnight race complete with obstacles… I had to get in! This would be the next step on the way to World’s Toughest Mudder, which I have not been able to get into yet, but has been on my bucket list for several years.

I wasn’t completely prepared. I hadn’t trained the way I wanted to, my toddler and busy schedule made sure of that. I would like to have gotten a lot more miles in to prep my ligaments, but that didn’t happen. I was able to maintain basic muscle strength at the gym with my two workouts a week. Would that be enough? I have mental grit, it would have to be. 

In the days leading up to the event, I tried to keep everything perfect. Getting good rest (toddler didn’t understand that and continued to wake us up in the middle of the night), taking it light in the gym and eating appropriately. Well, 2 out of 3 is good! I was very careful not to get any stupid injuries like slicing a finger cutting veggies or getting sick by touching anything in son’s daycare center. Success, I found myself at the airport ready to go with 2 days until the race. I would get 2 nights of good rest because my boy was staying home for this one! These 2 days were spent with my Dad who lives in Minnesota; relaxing, and getting the final items for the race. I found out at the last minute that you need to have a flashing strobe light or glow stick in addition to the headlamp to be allowed on the course after dark. I had electrolytes, Strawberry Fig Newtons (my go-to between each lap), Bob’s Red Mill Peanut Butter Coconut bars, oranges, bananas and some secret sauce (NOS energy drink) to give me a kicker for the final hours. I tried the NOS toward the end of the first Gauntlet event and discovered its power! On the way to the event, I realized I had left the electrolytes at my dad’s place so we stopped and picked up a couple of bottles of Pedialyte. They worked like a charm! I had two goals for this event: 1. Consume the nutrition properly to fuel me the entire 12 hours maintaining consistent energy levels 2. Reach 40 miles and earn contender status for World’s Toughest Mudder in November. Around 6 PM I had arrived at Wild Wings Oneka, the hunting preserve in Hugo Minnesota where the Central Division Toughest Mudder was about to commence. 

The festival area was quiet with the final Mudders clearing out from the day’s normal events. The registration desk went smooth and I went to the pit area to set up. I brought a backpack, small cooler and plastic bin with food, dry goods, and extra clothes. There were rows of tents, canopies, and coolers spread throughout the pit area with contestants making their final preparation.  I put on a cool dry-fit lycra shirt, Athletics 8 compression pants, non-cotton socks, and Saucony Excursion TR12 trail shoes. These shoes were a great option at for under $80!

Things were calm, too calm, like the calm before the storm and we all knew what laid ahead. With the 8 PM start time approaching, Sean Corvelle got on the mic to rev up the crowd. We all took a knee and listened to his words of inspiration. We recited the Tough Mudder oath and waited for the start gun. He offered the “Mental Grit Award” which was $20 to the last Mudder to enter the course prior to the 7:15 AM cutoff and not stopping all night long. Soon enough we were off on the “Sprint Lap”.  On this first lap, all of the obstacles were closed and the first person to finish would be awarded a free entry to The World’s Toughest. I knew I wasn’t the fastest and I had a long night ahead so I took it easy observing each of the 20 obstacles as I passed. I was excited to get in there and try them out, my anticipation building but I knew that this lap would allow me to conserve energy and get ahead on time. 

There was a planned rolling opening of the obstacles starting at 9:30 and I made it through the first lap quickly. I was pleased to be able to skip by electroshock therapy without penalty! The second lap allowed for time to be made up in advance as I passed closed obstacles wondering which would be the first. I got past the newly created Gauntlet, Funky Monkey, Augustus Gloop, and many others. The one that finally got me turned out to be Block Ness Monster, close to the end of the lap. The guys in front of us passed on by as three of us were flagged into the now open obstacle. We jumped in the water happy to finally cool off and struggled to make it over the first monstrous rotating block. They were waterlogged and it took everything we had to get it to flip with a guy hanging on. I was able to get over the blocks on my own and we all decided that was the best way forward. The next obstacle – the dreaded Electroshock Therapy. I was all too happy to avoid the dangling wires by taking the penalty lap, a short run out of the way and back. After that, we encountered the new obstacle Mudderhorn which was a huge (seemed like 50 feet tall) a frame cargo net with an outer cargo netting layer. It was easy to get caught up in all that netting and proved to be an obstacle to slow you down, pull your headlamp off and tangle up anything hanging or dangling from your body.

By the next lap, most of the obstacles had opened and we were all in full swing of the Toughest Mudder. We climbed the inverted wall at Skidmarked, carried logs, traversed slacklines in Black Widow and Spread Eagle, Crawled through the Devil’s beard, dipped in and out of mud pits in the mud mile, climbed up the ladders in the water-spewing tubes of Augustus Gloop, and confronted one of the new 2019 obstacles; The Gauntlet. This started as a 2X4 balance beam to a plank position crossing about 10 feet long to swinging rings to the final segment which was a horizontal piece of wood big enough to get your fingertips on which you worked your way across to a doorknob, followed by a piece of wood handle, another doorknob, another wood handle, another doorknob and another fingertip crossing to the end. This obstacle could be attempted 4 times, each failure incurring a penalty lap on a short loop nearby. 

Another exciting new obstacle was the leap of faith. You had to jump out 5 feet over water to grab vertical cargo net.  You climbed the net to a pole which you shimmied down to dry land on the other side. This was fairly simple and lots of fun! ‘

Another new obstacle was Hydrophobia which was crawling through a small tube submerged in water. I was happy to see Funky Monkey which was an inverted monkey bar to a horizontal wheel which rotated you around to a large vertical wheel which spun you to a smaller vertical wheel which whipped you to a pole you would work down to the other side. Certainly a grip zapper! I found the cage crawl to be relaxing. There were long trenches filled with water and topped with cage sections which you pulled yourself through on your back keeping only your mouth and nose above water. This was very peaceful as your ears were underwater and you could only hear the sounds your breath as you worked your way through. Of course, we endured Berlin Walls – 8 ft walls to overcome, Everest 2.0 with some guys who selflessly spent much time at the top helping everyone through. Pyramid Scheme, which had a rope to help out when you were solo. You still had to get up a slippery surface to get to the rope as it only reaches a short distance down from the top. Nobody’s favorite Arctic Enema was included (construction container full of ice water) and some used the 4th lap wristband to be excluded from the torture. 

At the end of the 4th and every subsequent lap, we were given a blue wristband which could be used to surpass any obstacle without penalty. They were often given up at The Gauntlet and Funky Monkey and Electroshock Therapy.

My third lap went without fail, all obstacles completed but I started feeling tightness in the ligaments behind my left knee. I knew this was going to be a problem the rest of the night and would have to dig deep to beat it or drop out of the race early to avoid injury. I wasn’t born to be a quitter so I pressed on. I earned my 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th lap bracelets which I used for the Gauntlet and Funky Monkey in laps 6 and 7. I had not failed any obstacle at that point (I did take the penalty lap at electroshock each time) and using those wristbands saved me time. One thing I noticed around 2 AM was that there was a lack of volunteers at most of the obstacles. There was one at Gauntlet, Funky Monkey, Electroshock Therapy, Blockness Monster, and Mudderhorn but most of the rest had nobody. It was concerning at the least to think that it would be easy for some to pass the obstacles and the penalty lap without retribution. Also concerning was the fact that if there was a serious injury, who would know? Volunteers often bring energy to the races and encourage you to keep going, but this lack of their presence really made this event quiet. You would feel the energy every time you got back to the finish line/pit area as there were plenty of people around.

When I was in my sixth lap I knew I had to dig deep if I were to complete two more laps to achieve my 40-mile goal. Each lap was 5 miles with 20 obstacles. I completed the seventh lap, swung by the pit to quickly refuel and get back on the course by 7 AM beating the cutoff. I knew I didn’t have enough time to finish the eighth, but I wasn’t going to quit without trying.  I got 4 miles before I heard the finishing bell which rang promptly at 8 AM. It was a bittersweet sound as the race was over and I had my results – 39 miles. Just one short of my goal. I managed my disappointment by reminding myself that I didn’t really deserve the contender’s bib because I hadn’t put in the necessary time training, I was winging it. Something that my ligaments were reminding me with every step I took. When I got back to the festival area I was greeted by fellow Mudders who had endured the night and waited excitedly for the awards ceremony. First, Second and Third place awards were given to top males and females in age groups as well as winners of 2 person teams and 4 person teams. 

I hobbled around the festival area which was starting to wake up in anticipation of Sunday’s events. I Tried out some products like Tin Cup whiskey, Every Man Jack Beard Butter and Endoca CBD oil. I was impressed with all of these products and found relief for my aching muscles immediately upon applying the lotion! New Mudders and the energy of a new day filled the area as I reviewed my accomplishments and failures in my mind. I had made it through the night with excellent nutrition, was full of energy and even won the mental grit award (yes, I made Sean give me the $20).

I reminisced the sun going down as we started the race and the mosquitos coming out. You put on Deet at each pit stop which was washed off at the first water obstacle. We were serenaded by a chorus of bullfrogs and I even heard a few coyotes around midnight. There were crickets and owls and some rumbling things in the bushes that couldn’t be identified. I remembered when the morning sun brought new energy (and deerflies) and the chance to remove the headlamp and run in the light. I reveled in how myself and over 350 other Mudders did what many think is crazy and impossible. I reminded myself this was just the warm-up. The next big thing happens over 24 hours in November.

FitVine Wine Review 2015

When I was asked if I would like to test the new product FitVine, I thought – Free Wine, why not? I like wine, I like to drink and they say it’s healthy, so I gave it a gulp and here’s my two cents:

First let me preface by admitting that I am not a wine snob. I don’t know all the precise ways to describe fine wines, but I do know that too much two buck chuck will give you a headache. (Two buck chuck is Trader Joe’s cheapest wine!) I worked in restaurants and know how to sell wine to a table, so I can look at it and compare it to things that I’ve tried in the past. For the record, I like red wines and my preference is Pinot Noir because it isn’t overpowering or acidy.

Now lets talk about FitVine, and what I like about it. Their goal was to make a wine for athletes that increases the antioxidant properties and reduce calories. They claim to have 10x higher amounts of reservatrol than the average wine. They also increase polyphenols and proanthocyanidins which are other beneficial antioxidants found in wine. The makers of FitVine gave me some some additional details about the process, showing that they are also concerned with making a good tasting product. They focus on sugar level, pH balance and even put it through a malolactic, secondary fermentation, to lower PH and keep the bugs out. They explained that their wines are cold stabilized, chilled, to drop out impurities prior to filtration and they filter with both diatomaceous earth and micron pads.

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They currently have two choices, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. I tried both on two separate occasions. The first time was to get the taste, the second was to check the headache factor. The first night I started with a glass of chardonnay. It appeared to be light bodied and had a medium, mineral smell. I’m not sure how to describe the flavor except to say it wasn’t overpowering. It was soft, dry, and had an earthiness about it. There was no aftertaste, which is good, but it didn’t seem to stand out in any way. The second glass that night was the Cabernet, which I was looking forward to since I enjoy reds. It was medium bodied, with a light toasty smell. It had a dry, fleshy flavor that did not overpower and no changing aftertaste. I can’t say that they were amazing, but I won’t say they were bad. I will have them again.

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The second experiment was to see how large quantities of this wine would make me feel the next day. That night I finished both bottles and was feeling groovy! The next day I was very pleasantly surprised not to have a headache! There was a little dry mouth, but nothing serious, this wine is safe to drink!

In conclusion, if you are a wine snob and know many strange words to describe wines, then you should try this product and see for yourself. If you are an athlete and are looking for a decent tasting alternative with less calories (Cabernet Sauvignon – 5oz glass, 95 calories & 12.55g carbohydrates, Chardonnay – 5oz glass, 90 calories & 5.9g carbohydrates) this could work for you! And if you are drinking wine for the antioxidants, then you will definitely need to switch to this one!

The wine is currently sold online at http://fitvinewine.com.

*Photos By: FitVine Wine

The Gauntlet Endurance Event 2015

In the mud running sport we are constantly pushing ourselves to new limits in order to see what we are made of. Normally it starts with a 5k and then it builds to a 10k and the next thing you know you’re finding yourself wanting more. You crave the excitement of pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do. If you’re anything like me, it changes your life and you train for it mentally and physically. You research food, nutrition, and equipment looking for ways to improve upon yourself and to find new limits. Then you hit the level of endurance racing. Spartan Beast at Vermont was fun and you need something to challenge you even more. I found The Gauntlet.

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The Gauntlet is not just your backyard endurance race created by a some crazy guy at a motorsport complex. The crew that first came up with the idea contain 9 death race skulls between them. Matthew Waller, the race director has many talents aside from being an experienced Death Racer. Being on the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission, he is no stranger to putting on events. This event definitely showed that. The other part of the dynamic duo was Tanya Bickham, who was onsite helping direct us through the tasks and keeping an eye on everyone’s health. Her position as an RN helped calm any worries about getting injured during the physical limits we would be pushing. Several of the helpers are also nurses and there was even an EMT on site. We were in good hands!

Now about the event itself. there was a lot of secrecy about what to expect. Very few emails came out with just the required packing list. There were practically no clues for us to determine how to prepare. Check-in time was between 5-7PM on Friday night. I started around 6PM and was directed to take everything out of mypack and line it up in the field. I was asked a question about one of the few clues in an email which would remove some of the 500 burpees that were required to begin. I only had to do 300 ( I got two answers correct). It had gotten dark while doing the burpees, and the next task was go down the road by the barrels and choose a stone and bring it back. “Choose wisely” we were told. The stones were concrete molds created from 5 gallon buckets. There were two sizes and I knew if I took the smaller, I would suffer more. I picked the larger and made my way back to the field. “Good choice”, if I had taken the smaller he would have made me go back and get the bigger! Now I was told to go back down the road with the stone and look for the trail on the left. It would wind through the woods and bring me back to the field. Carrying that stone for the mile long trek was very torturous. My arms were screaming by the time I got back.

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Now I was told that I had until midnight to make as many laps as I could around a mile long super-cross track. Each lap would give a point towards the final score. The track had many hills and some were extremely steep. It was muddy and difficult to navigate on foot. I cranked out 9 laps and then prepared for the next task. We were arranged on a platform in rows of two while Matt gave an inspirational speech. He told us we were there because we wanted to find out what we were capable of. He was proud of us for showing up not knowing what we were getting into. He filled us with confidence and turned us over to his nephew who would give us some first aid tips. It was hard to focus as the platform was hard on my butt and it was cold out. After the speech, we were given a team task, to go back around the pond to the entrance where we would find a tractor tire, weighing between 240-260 pounds. As a team we were to bring it back to the field. When we got to the field, Tanya told us to take the tire down the road past where we found our stones to where we would find Matt. The tire was heavy and difficult to carry, but we got there only to find out we had to carry it for 10 laps around another dirt track. This seemed like too much, but we were still fresh in the game and knew it was going to happen. After the laps, we had to take the tire back to the field.

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Once the other team returned and we had a chance to get some nutrition and hydration, we were told the next set of tasks would be a race. We were to sprint over to the super-cross track and find John who would instruct us what to do there. John was at the top of the steepest hill on the track. He had us do leg blasters – 20 squats, 20 air squats, 20 lunges per leg and 20 air lunges per leg. Then we were to go back to the field. At the field, Tanya told us to put everything in our pack and head down the road to find Matt. It was now somewhere between 2-3AM and all of our stuff had condensation all over it. It was all wet! When we found Matt, he challenged us to a mental task based on a sign we had seen while climbing a hill just before reaching him. I passed the test and didn’t have to do the penalty burpees. I still had to do leg blasters. After that he directed me to find a concrete block and tie the 3/4 inch rope to it and drag it back. The holes in the block was filled with concrete, making it a solid concrete block. After I got it back to him, he told me to leave the pack there and drag it all the way back to John who was waiting on top of that steep hill on the motor-cross track. After what seemed like an eternity of dragging the block, through mud, up hills to the top of that hill, I looked at John and said “leg blasters”? He agreed and I did another set. then I had to drag the block all the way back to Matt. When I got back to Matt, he quizzed me again on the mental task, which I remembered the answer from before. Again, no burpees, but I had to do another set of leg blasters. Then he told me to put on the pack and drag the block back to the field. Daylight was breaking on the way back and this brought excitement that it would soon be getting warmer!

When I got back to the field, I was given a quiz on the first aid lecture we received at midnight. Now I had some time to put on dry clothes, get nutrition and warm up by the fire until the other racers finished. At this point three people had dropped and there were nine of us left. We then had to take our packs and hike a few miles down the road to carry rocks. First, we had to find the rock pile in the woods and then bring them back to the recovery site. It was called a “search and rescue mission”, but I know it was just slave labor! We carried rocks up hills, across dry water runoff beds in a quarry type of environment, through thickets of bristle patches until Matt finally told us to stop and head back to basecamp. He was nice enough to let us put the 25lb tube of sand (part of the required list for men) in the back of his truck. the trip back was so much more pleasant!

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Next was the sledgehammer circle. We were required to bring sledgehammers, but there was no size listed. I brought a 10 pounder, most brought 8 pounders and two unfortunate souls brought little 3 pounders. We stood in a circle and held the hammer above our head for three minutes. We were given a 30 second break, moved to the right and then repeated with the next hammer. Each of us had to hold each persons hammer at least once. After nine rotations, we were told to head back down the entrance road and around the pond to where we would find him on the other side. As we arrived we were told to line up, take off our packs, look forward, do not look back, and do not talk. One of the racers curiosity got the best of her and was given a 100 burpee penalty for turning around. When she finished her burpees, Matt took Devin who was on my left and walked to the ponds edge. We couldn’t see or hear anything until there was a big kersplash. Apparently, Matt had thrown the hammer into the lake and Devin had to go get it. I was next and having the big hammer came in helpful. He didn’t get it too far and I was able to retrieve it with ease! Radi, who was next in line had one of the smaller 3 pound hammers. It’s still somewhere in the middle of that pond! She was given 5 minutes to find it, and then had to stay in the water for another 5 minutes as a penalty. That water was cold!! I didn’t stick around.

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Our next task was a long hike on the trails around the grounds and we could begin as soon as we retrieved our hammer. I got back to base camp, filled up on nutrition and water, put on some dry clothes and headed off into the woods. There were many trails cris-crossing each other with plenty of different color, size, and shape flags directing different paths that had been used over the years for all the different races that had taken place there. We were to follow the orange flags. I was the second person on the trail and I was trying to catch up with the first. Somewhere about 4 miles into it I realized I was following the wrong set of flags and it became apparent to me that I was lost. I could hear the roaring of the motorcycles way off in the distance and knew I had to get back to base camp before darkness set in or I wouldn’t find my way back. Once I got back, Tanya approached me and asked if I had found John and got my tire. I had not, so I had to start the trek all over again. Note to self – pay attention to course markings!! I trekked back down the trail until I found John. Had to do some burpees, just because – burpees, and then was told to go find a tire. I picked one of these heavy, specialized motorbike tires and came back down the hill to John who told me I had to do “tire burpees”! And my feet had to leave the ground. Cranked them out, changed into warmer clothes because the temp was dropping and I had to bring that tire all the 5 miles back to basecamp. It had gotten dark on the way back and I had to use my headlamp to follow the flags and hopefully not get lost again! Thank goodness I came across Miguel, another racer and together we stayed on track and pushed each other to make it back. It was now 7:30PM and we had been at it for over 24 hours. We were told to get ready to head back out for one more task at 8:30.

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At this point I was wondering how much more I could take. My knee had been in pain since the sun came up and now it was after dark. I knew there was a 10PM cutoff, so the end was near. Our last task was to make candles out of the oranges we were required to bring. It was a cool, learning experience and we were given this task as a take away. We learned how to remove the insides of the orange, use the middle as a wick and fill it with olive oil. We then had to tie ourselves together and make one final lap around the motocross track with our candles. It was a reflective moment and the candles represented that flame in each of us that never was put out.

All in all, it was a great event. I made some amazing friends and strengthened bonds with existing friends. I learned some new tricks and found out how far I could push myself. Matt was happy with the turn out. 18 people signed up, 14 showed up and 8 finished. He didn’t want it to be easy, he wanted it to push each of us to the point where we question ourselves, our abilities and if we had the grit to get it done. He was very encouraging during the race, telling us we could do it. We could make it to the next task. He said they are already planning the next race, and I’m already planning on running it.

*Photos By: The Gauntlet and Bill Waller

Peter McNairy Bio Peter is a Personal Trainer, Surfer, Bachatero, Father of 3 wonderful girls and is into all types of muddy challenges. He enjoys helping people overcome their fears, weaknesses and pushing them to achieve their full potential. Peter ran cross country in high school and after running OCRs, “Cant go back to road races”! 

FRESHeTECH All-Terrain Sound Speaker Review

When I heard my ticket called at the GORMR extravaganza, I had no idea what I had won. I was ecstatic to find out that it was the All-Terrain Sound Speaker from FRESHeTECH. I had been looking at portable speakers only the day before, but was concerned about the ruggedness since I was planning to use it on the sailboat. This was right up my alley!

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The speaker came in a nice little box with a micro USB connector for charging, a 3.5mm connector cord (for playback from non-Bluetooth devices) and a suction cup so you can stick the speaker anywhere with a flat surface! The top of the speaker has a built in clip so attaching it to things like a backpack, belt, or the boom of your boat is easy and quick to do.

Some other great features include:

  • It has rubberized protection around the round edges protecting it from damage when dropped or banged (it claims to be able to withstand a drop from 10 feet directly onto concrete).
  • It has a rubber cover for the micro USB port and headphone jack to keep water out making it water resistant.
  • It is IPX5 rated which means it can withstand jets of water for up to 15 minutes.
  • It only takes 90 min to charge and has 12 hours of play time.
  • The Bluetooth 4.0 functionality has about 35 foot range and it even has a built in microphone so you can take calls if connected to your phone.
  • It has a power button, rewind/skip and volume buttons (the buttons were a little difficult to see, but function just the same).

I paired the speaker to my Iphone with ease. One button on the speaker and then find it on the phone – done! I tested it inside to get a good idea of the sound. The sound is great quality for the speaker size and price. The high end is well pronounced and it does not leave out the bass. You can’t expect much low end on any speaker this size, but what it lacks down there it makes up in the mid range. I was very pleased with the frequency response and was very happy with the sound field it provides. Of course the best sound is directly in front, but you still hear it decently from the sides and back.

While we were on the boat it provided enough sound for us to enjoy the music, overcoming the wind and waves. I also took it on a training run. I found that clipping it on to my hydration pack was a little bit of a nuisance since it would swing left and right as I ran, so I put it in the outer pocket and was fine. It lost a little of the cymbals (extreme highs) by putting it in the pocket, but not much else. I was expecting it to be muffled and severe sound quality loss, but it still provided good sound!

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Finally, I tested the Bluetooth phone functionality. It was a little muffled when in the pocket of my hydration pack, but was very clear once I pulled it out. It picked up my voice from every angle, in front and behind without the caller on the other end being able to tell a difference. They said it sounded fine, but when I went outside into a windy area, there was some (expected) interference. As I got out of the windy area, the surrounding outdoor sounds were not a problem and we could continue our conversation with ease.

The speaker is listed at $79.99 on the FRESHeTECH website, but I did find better prices while searching the net; however, it is still a great speaker at full price. I am very pleased with it and will recommend it to friends.

*Photos By: Peter McNairy and FRESHeTECH.

Peter McNairy Bio Peter is a Personal Trainer, Surfer, Bachatero, Father of 3 wonderful girls and is into all types of muddy challenges. He enjoys helping people overcome their fears, weaknesses and pushing them to achieve their full potential. Peter ran cross country in high school and after running OCRs, “Cant go back to road races”! 

 

 

Udder Mud Run- Second Year Fun!

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Udder Mud Run 2014 was the second year of existence and first time I participated. While I heard many great things about the 2013 inaugural race, I expected much less of this local, backyard event and was greatly surprised. A lot of planning and effort went into the 4.5 mile course making this a great day for all who got dirty!

It was a cool, overcast morning, perfect for a mud run. I arrived early for the elite heat and found the free parking close to the venue and well managed. We were routed through the waiver section first and then sent to bib pickup. Everything was well thought out and we were processed quickly and efficiently. In no time I was inside meeting friends and getting pumped up with the pre-race music coming from the DJ area.

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The emcee called us to the starting corral and pumped us up for the race. The start line was covered with all the local regulars and people were stretching and warming up, excited to get into the obstacles. They called Pastor Alex Vicaro, who gave a noble prayer asking for thick mud, slippery obstacles and the strength and desire to overcome it all. Then we heard the beautiful voices of Ava Teasley and Dakota Pirtle who took turns singing the National Anthem before each heat. Smoke was dropped and the cannon exploded signifying the start of the race. Only 10 feet from the start line, hidden by the smoke bomb was the first mud pit, perfectly camouflaged blending in with the rest of the trail. We got stuck in the thick, heavy mud and it was a great surprise to the start of our race.

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As we ran up over the hill we came to our next obstacle, the spider web. This was a new one from last year and had rope lines criss-crossing high and low and in all directions making it difficult to get through. After navigating that, we came into a field where there was a huge mud bog being fed with water from large agricultural water trucks. The hoses rained water all around making this mud hole a slow pit for crossing. Back into the woods to navigate through wood piles and 8 foot walls we reached the next area of obstacles. There was a watery tunnel crawl, followed by a large slippery PVC pipe covered with lube which many fell off sideways because it was too difficult to hang on. We moved through a muddy-water over/under section with logs and then the kiddy slides. They were only 6 feet long but layed on a cross-beam at a 65 degree angle in the middle of a water pit making it nearly impossible to get up and over! There was another pit of water with a matrix of ropes only inches above which you had to pass underneath while laying on your back with only your face exposed. The way out of this pit was a slippery 8 foot wall with a rope.

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Another run through the hills, woods, across streams and ravines and we came to the next area of madness! At first there was a 10 foot wall. To get over the wall you were assisted up from the bottom and then reached up for the hands of the volunteers at the top. Choice of ways down was a ladder or a pole slide. Next was a tire suspended 4 feet in the air which you had to get through. I saw many hang up here. A few attempted to dive through and some pulled themselves up and kicked their legs through with ease. After another lubed PVC scoot we got to the first huge downhill slip and slide. It was probably 100 yards long emptying into a muddy creek at the bottom, if you could make it that far. Later while running with Michael Mills and the Dirtbags, we spent about 30 min running up the hill and sliding down. We commandeered the nearby tubes and went for races, tandem, and for distance. This was the most fun part of the race!

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More mud tunnels and a cargo net later we reached one of my favorite obstacles – the monkey bars. These bars were another new addition to the course and were actually several sections of cattle gates on top of a 4X4 frame with a pvc sprinkler system attached constantly shooting water. They warned us that the red ones were slippery and they weren’t lying! Only 42 out of 800+ participants made it through to find the surprise at the end, a shoe-sucking area of mud that looked like a completely harmless place to drop down into. With the mud past our knees we crawled out and back onto the trail to the next section of fun.

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We reached the lake crossing which was more than waist high and a second slip and slide which was situated atop a well formed hill that emptied into a big mud pit. There were logs to climb over and then a run through a couple fields and back into a small section of woods, which would be home to the last obstacle before the finish line, named the humps. We dropped into mud pits, climbed over the muddy humps for three sections and finally out and across the finish line where the fans and spectators were cheering.

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They had high powered hoses and shower heads and there were changing tents for those who wanted to go home clean. There was a concession area with delicious smelling BBQ available and Athletics8, Playout cards and other vendors were there showing off their stuff. All in all it was a great course, with enthusiastic and helpful volunteers and even free Chobani Yogurt and Mayfield Ice Cream samples in the festival area. I’m already looking forward to this race next year as it will be on my to do list!

*Photos By: Peter McNairy

RunningPeter is a Personal Trainer, Surfer, Bachatero, Father of 3 wonderful girls and is into all types of muddy challenges. He enjoys helping people overcome their fears, weaknesses and pushing them to achieve their full potential. Peter ran cross country in high school and after running OCRs, “Cant go back to road races”! This is Peter’s first review with ORM.