Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Race Recap: Mud Hero Alberta 6K

Completing a mud obstacle race has always been on my fitness bucket list so I had to say yes when Columbia Sportswear approached me with the offer to participate.

Disclaimer: I received two race entries and Columbia gear in exchange for posting about the race but, as always, all opinions are my own.

Since the event is held in Red Deer (three-and-a-half hours away) my friend June and I drove up the day before. The race is held at Canyon Ski Resort. It's about 10 minutes outside of Red Deer. I found the signage heading out there to be awesome and we easily found our way. Parking is 10 dollars but no complaints as it was well executed and they had someone directing you where to park and all the parking was within minutes of the starting area which was nice. Mud Hero recommends you arrive at the site 90 minutes before but we found 60 minutes to be more than enough. 

Once there we headed to pick up our registration packages. Instead of a bib all racers are given a green headband with your number on it. You also are encouraged to write your number on your body, with a Sharpie, for photos. There was only a short line for registration so we were through fairly quick. We took a few pre-race photos, checked our gear, and then met up with Jen and her friend Chelsi to run the race together. 

We were in the 10:30 heat. The event is held over three days, and it had been pouring rain, so the course was very muddy. They had to close one obstacle because it was too slick but otherwise the other 17 were open. The starting line consisted of a dance party hosted by one high-energy DJ and lots of nervous laughter as we talked about what we were about to get ourselves into. Before I knew it, we were off and running! 

The first kilometer, or so, was straight down a hill. We started out running but soon had to stop as the path was extremely slick. Half the people were sliding on their bums or "surfing" down but we chose to walk on the far edge of the path, and hold on to trees and random branches, to try and make it to the bottom without falling. Once we got to the bottom it was back up. This course has a lot of hills! We eventually came across our first obstacle which was the Superhero Cargo Climb. 

We high-fived each other after we had all conquered it and headed off running. From there we did scaled three walls before making or way to the giant slide. This was probably the one I was most excited about. You basically slide into a giant pool of muddy water. June had to sit this one out, because of her contacts, but the girls and I had a blast as we threw our hands up in the air and screamed as we flew down the slide and were catapulted into the mud. It was the first time we got really dirty and I was loving it! 

We stopped running, in between obstacles, at that point as our shoes were soaked. We decided to just walk and really enjoy the experience. The next obstacle was a frog spa where we had to make our way across this out of really thick mud. It was tough but we all did it and then helped pull each other out at the end. The Donkey Kong was the one I was lost nervous about. Basically you climb up a 15-foot structure then climb along cargo nets, suspended in the air, and then back down. I'm terrified of heights so I could feel my body shaking. Thankfully, I just took my time and, with some reassurance from June, was able to make it safely back on the ground.

Other obstacles included the Muddy Lagoon and the Backwards Bullfrog.

The end was probably the hardest. After climbing hamburger hill (which we can only guess is named that because you deserve a free hamburger, at the very least, for climbing it) we did monkey bars and then came to the wall scale. There was a platform and a rope and you had to pull yourself up and slide down the other side. This obstacle is right next to the starting area so we had been watching people try it earlier. June easier made her way up and then it was my turn. I made it almost three-quarters before my feet and hands started slipping. The rope and surface were covered in mud and it was impossible to get any traction. I tried one more time but still couldn't do it so Jen, Chelsi and I moved over to the other end of the obstacle where they had wooden steps to make it a little easier but still challenging.

The last 120 metres is a giant mud pit with a number of obstacles. This is easily where we had the most fun. At one point, I slid down into a pit and my legs went behind me, instead of in front of me, and I was stuck. The mud was so thick I couldn't pull myself upright. I remember just laughing and then calling for June as someone yelled "she's sinking!!" June grabbed my hand and contemplated just pulling me, superman style, but I managed to somehow start moving on my own and get out. If you weren't dirty before you were now. The pit had you swimming under logs and doing the backwards overhead crawl towards the finish. I was covered in mud up to my shoulders!

The girls and I crossed the finish line together with huge smiles on our faces and very dirty!

We had thrown around the idea of finishing under two hours and we did! 1:41:XX

I think the fastest person finished the course in 30-something minutes that day but I'm glad we decided not to race it. We had so much fun doing it as a team, chatting between obstacles, and just taking our time to soak it all in. 

After the race, we picked up our bags and attempted some post-race photos (my phone still has mud on it) and then went to shower and change. 

There is a big water structure with multi shower heads to hose you down. I was able to get decently clean but next year I would consider wearing a swimsuit under my race clothes so I could just strip down after. I definitely took off my top and showered in my sports bra in an attempt to get clean. They have a changing tent but we decided to set up camp outside. It took awhile but we eventually cleaned ourselves off, and put new clothes on, and then made our way to the beer gardens. Your entry also gets you a medal, t-shirt and one free beer. They had a band playing so we sat and chatted for a bit while we sipped our drinks. If you were hungry there was also a lot of decently-priced food options on site. 

Overall, I had a blast at the race! I would absolutely do it again. In fact, I think I'll bring London next time since they have a kids' race for those 4+. 

Thank you Mud Hero, and Columbia, for a great experience! And, thank you to the girls for making the experience so much fun!!! 

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