I spent Saturday morning running a 5-mile obstacle course in the mud. Mudderella came to town and it was time to do my first mud run. My Healthy Bucket List includes a mud race like a Spartan or Tough Mudder. Although Mudderella doesn’t let me cross it off my list, it was a great way to gauge if it really is doable. It is!
Mudderella isn’t a race. You are not timed. No trophies are handed out. Created by women for women, this 5-miler is more about proving we’re physically and mentally tougher than we realize.
In fact, “Own Your Strong” is Mudderella’s tagline. And it’s everywhere — signs along the course, the music during the warm up, and the course itself: all the obstacles are designed to empower and uplift participants. But you really see it at work with its charity partner, Futures Without Violence – a nonprofit looking to end and prevent domestic violence.
Mudderella heavily pushes teamwork, so I was a bit leery that I wouldn’t be able to do all of the obstacles. I was doing this on my own. As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry. After the second obstacle I met Rebecca, who was also running the race by herself (due to a friend’s knee injury). She had me when she offered to give me a piggyback ride!
Saturday’s course offered 10 obstacles. I went in with a few goals:
- Try all obstacles, only skip if I was physically unable to do something.
- Finish the course.
- Get muddy…seriously muddy.
- No complaining. No whining. No moaning…just enjoy the adventure.
Now, there were a few obstacles that did give me pause before I registered for the event. Specifically the wall climbs. When Saturday morning rolled around I can honestly say I wasn’t that confident in my upper body strength. And, climbing was never my thing.
Of course, of the 10 obstacles, three involved climbing!
1. Down To The Wire — First up, I crawled through mud under sets of wire. Unlike the Tough Mudder course, the wire wasn’t barbed.
2. Break the Glass Ceiling — For this one, we crawled under a heavy cargo net. Like the Down To The Wire, you’re supposed to use your hands and knees. The group I went under with decided to be a little creative, going backwards and bent over, using our hands to push the net upward. Great idea…until our shirts started riding up. So every 10 steps, we had to stop, adjust our tops, and then continue.
3. I Got Your Back — I was worried about this obstacle since I was doing the run stag. There’s no way to complete this obstacle without a partner. You give someone a piggyback ride and switch positions half way through. Luckily for me I met Rebecca.
4. New Heights — My first wall. When I saw it, I realized, my concern about upper body strength was a red herring. I was actually afraid of falling on my butt! This wall was all about leg strength, which I have plenty of. But the higher I climbed, the more nervous I became. I felt great relief when I got to the top…until I realized I had to get down. Crap! Ignore the fact that I could have jumped from the top and landed safely. The big plus going for me? Rebecca! She was an awesome coach/cheerleader combo! Her encouragement squashed that little negative voice in my head.
5. Dirty Downward Dog — Yoga to the rescue! Basically you have to downward dog your way across two dirt walls with a trough of water in between. While I’m not short — I’m 5’6″ — I did worry if my body would stretch across the water. They did have one set up for ladies with petite builds. But as I looked at the section where the walls looked closer together, a course volunteer yelled, “You are much taller than you think.” Right!
6. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough — This puts the “mud” in Mudderella. There are 5 muddy peaks you have to climb…but with each peak comes troughs of the thickest mud in the world. And given the steep nature of the peaks, the only way to get into the troughs is sliding on your butt into the mud. When I was about to climb the last peak, my right foot got stuck. No matter how hard I tried lifting my leg, there was no way my foot was coming out of the mud with my shoe attached. Someone in front of me had already lost a shoe and it took her 10 minutes to find it! Thankfully, two wonder women jumped back into the mud and helped me get enough leverage to free my foot and shoe.
7. Car Wash – OK, I challenge anyone to do this obstacle without humming the theme to Car Wash! Just plain soapy fun as you crawl through some suds and sprinklers to get a little “clean.” But by the time we hit this, the ground was so muddy I think we came out dirtier than when we went in… Awesome!
8. Wheels In Motion — You swing from tire to tire, so balance and timing are everything. When Rebecca and I got to this one, it was an hour wait. This was the only obstacle with a wait. Ladies took their time (understandably) to do this one. Sigh! As we were already about 80 minutes into the course, and close to the finish line, we opted out of this obstacle.
9. Tough TaTas — The second wall to climb over. This one is taller than New Heights and you use a rope to help you scale the wall. Turns out, the foot holds were more than enough to help me climb the wall. I zipped up the wall fairly quickly. Getting down was another story. The rope was a must as I gracefully (ha!) lowered myself down.
10. Hat Trick — This one is supposed to be three obstacles in one — trampoline onto a cargo net, climb (3rd and final) the net to the top of a wall, and slide down the other side into a muddy pool. But with the space constrains of the area, the trampoline was nixed. Didn’t matter. I so wanted to go down the slide; I was all over the net like a monkey on a cupcake! I was completely caught off guard by how fast we shot down the slide. But the muddy pool of water was refreshing on a hot day.
Despite the traffic jam at the tires, I’m comfortable saying I met all my goals for the event, and Mudderrella exceeded all my expectations. It was a blast!
More Mudderellas In My Future
There is no doubt that I’ll do Mudderella again. I had so much fun and I loved overcoming my fears. I really am stronger than I think. Next time, I think I’ll try getting a team together. Rebecca was a godsend (we even talked about meeting up for next year’s event)!
You really do need friends to help encourage you to get through these obstacles. Countless times I witnessed team members watching out for each other, offering encouraging words, and physically helping teammates with difficult obstacles.
That doesn’t mean you can’t fly solo! I saw, and experienced, complete strangers offering encouragement and help. Heck, I did the same. It’s pretty infectious. I went by myself, and I made a good friend. You can too.