Some time ago and via someone, neither of which I remember for sure, I discovered an event called MuddyBuddy. This event takes place at locations all around the U.S. and its main sponsor is Columbia (the outdoor apparel company). The core of the event is team of two that take turns either running or biking. The course is typically in a rural farm area that hosts hills, off-road trails, and room for a giant mud-hole – the big finish. In Chicago (or more accurately in Gilberts, IL) the location venue included plenty of uphill and downhill terrain, much of which had been rained upon extensively and was at best soft, at worse a mucky runway to grind through with either feet or bike.
My buddy for this event was my 19 year old son James. Although I think he regretted agreeing to do this as it neared closer on race day I was happy to see him cranking through the event with a smile on his face. I took on the first leg of running (about 1.1 miles) until a rock wall climb (Obstacle 1) and then on to find where my buddy parked our bike and off again. James cranked through the next mile run, as I never saw him until I reached the next Obstacle (2). In part this was due to a small spill on a short spurt of downhill gravel, it left me with my chain tangled among my sprockets while blood started gurgling from my now shredded leg and arm (I didn’t realize it was also my hip and back until later).
The remainder of the course drags you through a variety of uphill grinds (downhills too, but those are easy!) that are rut filled, muddy farm trails begging to twist your ankle. At one point, in a downhill a fellow next to me flipped over his handle bars as his front tire was swallowed up in a mud hole and I saw his body launched out in front of me into the turf with a loud thud and simultaneous grunt. No, I did not run him over but it did warn me further to heed the mud holes! The obstacles are simply moments of additional muscles going to work that you didn’t think about – kinda fun, but you would be surprised how they add to the toll of body beating.
Before you can finish this race there are two remaining obstacles, which you do side-by-side with your race buddy. The first is a 10 foot vertical wall climb using a rope and then down the other side, not so bad but you’re sweaty and muddy and it doesn’t make the rope any easier to hold onto. The final is 50 foot long mud hole that you must crawl through on your belly. A you see below, we made it through this successfully.
Dashing to the finish line after the mud hole is relieving, however it is when you realize how soaked you are and how much you need the shower hose.
Overall I would recommend this event to anyone that wants to have a unique and memorable experience with a running or biking bud. It’s not incredibly difficult or challenging as the course is short of 6 miles. James and I weren’t working on setting any pace records, although I was pleased to see that we did finish in 46 minutes, which is around a 8:20m/mile pace. Some of the fastest results were in the low 30’s and the slowest were 2 hours.
Maybe we’ll see some of you next year and we’ll do it again!