Down and Dirty is a different cup of mud at Folsom Lake
I’ll be honest: I run half marathons. And being a half-marathon runner, I thought that made me the ultimate badass.
But then I ran in the Down and Dirty National Obstacle Course on Sunday at Folsom Lake. As I stood at the start line for the 10k, I thought, “Oh, six miles, this will be a cinch.” But let me tell you, there’s a difference between running 13 miles in a straight line and six miles through mud.
It starts out easy. You crawl underneath a rope obstacle boot-camp style, and then jog toward a pushup station. An official orders you to give him 10. I was feeling a little spunky, so I threw in a clap pushup on the fifth rep.
“Show off,” he said to me.
I ran away with a little grin, but I would later regret that one clap pushup.
Because that’s when the obstacles started building up: climbing walls, running up hills, running down hills, up and over another rope obstacle. That’s when the hard breathing kicks in. The hamstrings start to feel it.
And then … Uh-oh, it’s the mud.
A pit of mud, no more than the length of a first down in football, sits right in front of you. You’re forced to crawl through the mud pit and splash your way to the end.
Now, I’m an all-or-nothing guy, so rather than nibble my way through, I threw myself in.
Looking back, nibbling might have been better. First, the water gets in your shorts … and then the underpants, and then the socks. Pretty soon, you basically look like a swamp monster. Halfway through, I even caught some in my mouth. I was vigorously spitting, breathing and crawling at the same time. I finally made it out, but the hard part was just starting.
With the mud weighing me down, I felt like I was carrying my backpack with a quarter’s worth of college books.
I drudged on through a few more walls and a balance beam. Just before the halfway mark, I had to walk through an oasis obstacle. Suddenly wishing I had the power of Moses, I had to carry all those college books while trudging through the oasis. I thought to myself, “Well, it can’t get any harder than this.”
But I was wrong again. It was nothing but hills, climbing all the way up and steadily running down. Every inch of my body was drained, and for a second I thought I wouldn’t make it out alive. But after cruising down the final hill, I saw the one-mile mark.
I could momentarily relax. I could see the finish line. People were cheering; music was booming. It was like being deserted on a tropical island before finally seeing that cruise ship sailing by. I jogged up to the crowd, but I would soon realize that like the cruise ship, it was just a mirage.
The final 200 yards was stacked with obstacles: a giant rock wall, then another rope obstacle, and finally, one last mud pit.
With most of the previous mud having just dried, I crawled in once more. I hummed “Rocky” and “Karate Kid” music in my head as I crawled through the final obstacle, lashed out and dashed to the finish line.
After finally realizing I had completed the adventure, I looked down at my clothes. My shirt was heavier than a shot put, covered in brown goop. My pants were hanging on by a thread, and my shoes had been wasted away.
A little smile came onto my face. Never before had I had so much fun running. After all of the trouble, it was definitely worth it. As I slowly walked back to the parking lot, I thought to myself, “I really shouldn’t have done that clap-push up.”