Ashley and I rocked today. Well, actually we ran and biked, but we were awesome and we were still smiling at the end…I say that is what counts! My morning started with a blaring alarm at 3:37am. We had the option of driving to Minneapolis on Saturday, staying in a hotel and still have a 40 minute drive or we could stay at our place in Eau Claire and have an hour drive. We opted to stay in Eau Claire. We left the house at about 5am and showed up in Afton at the race site at 6am. Like I said, we rock.
We had to try out our costumes before we left the house, just to be sure they were race-ready. They were…
See…we do rock. We are even super smiley at 4:30am! Bright eyed and bushy tailed! It wasn’t even light out yet but we were ready to go. We threw everything in the car and headed for Afton.
There is one very important detail to all of this. This race was held at Afton. As in Afton Alps. As in the ski/board area we visit fairly regularly in the winter time. Down hill ski/board area. Following?
Afton is lots of fun in the winter when you get board down the hills and have these handy dandy things called chairlifts take you back to the top. When you are running/biking UP these hills it is not nearly as much fun. Yes, we went up the stinking “mountain”…three times! Also, when I say run/bike I really mean walk. The runners had to walk and the poor bikers had to push the bikes up along with them. Looking back now it didn’t seem that horrible but when you are plugging away on the hill in the hot sun it stinks! Luckily everyone was very social about it all!
Once we got there we got our race packets, wandered around the start/finish, took some photos. Around the expo area they had various signs set up. There were some pretty witty phrases…
Once we got our packets picked up we headed back to the car to get everything ready. Obviously we did not have our outfits on yet! We got decked out and put our numbers everywhere they belonged and then headed back to the main area of the race.
The race started in 5 different waves. We were part of wave four, or the gold wrist bands. The Muddy Buddy is considered an “adventure race” because there is biking, running and obstacles. Basically you run as a team with one bike. Both team members complete the same course. The biker leaves the start line first and bikes to the first obstacle. Once to the obstacle the biker drops the bike, completes the obstacle and take off running. After about a 2 minute wait the runner takes off from the start line to run to the first obstacle. Once there the runner will do the obstacle, pick up the bike and bike on to the next obstacle. This goes back and forth for five legs and five obstacles of the race.
I started out biking and biked about 4.2 miles total and ran 2.5 miles. Ashley covered the same distance but she ran 4.2 miles and bikes 2.5 miles.
Leg 1 & Obstacle 1:
The race started and almost immediately headed up hill. It was a hill I probably would have been able to bike up, however; 97% of the bikers got off their bikes and walked. With a trail wide enough for maybe three bikes there was no way I could bike around these people so I got off and walked. Once I got to the top I was off biking again. It was paved trail and a pretty easy bike. Our first obstacle was climbing a mini wall which was really quite easy – I could reach the top of the wall when I was standing flat-footed.
Leg 2 & Obstacle 2:
Then off I was…running along. This stretch was pretty easy too. Definitely trail running, but run-able. The grass on this trail run was pretty wet so the bikers were moving slower and there were a few “tip overs” on some inclines. The next obstacle was climbing under a cargo net, again, pretty easy. I had to wait a bit for Ashley and the bike, but then we were headed off again.
Leg 3 & Obstacle 3:
This leg had a big chunk of down hill, which was nice for me on a bike! There were a few “sand pits” that posed a challenge. Before long I was at obstacle three, the balance beams – not a huge challenge. On our way to the balance beam obstacle we could see people trudging up a big hill – a big hill that looked very similar to a black diamond I snowboarded down in February…awesome!
Leg 4 & Obstacle 4:
There was some flat ground before the incline so I started out running but before long the incline had me running at the same pace as a walk…I walked. Everyone walked. I did not see anyone running or biking up this hill! Of course once you get to the top of a hill you have to go back down. We ran down a beginner/intermediate level hill which seems great, but it was actually really hard to run down. Controlling your speed was hard. Bikers had a hard time too because the whole hill was shaded and the grass was really wet! At the bottom of this hill we had our fourth obstacle, the 20 foot inflatable slide climb – probably the best “obstacle”.
Leg 5 & Obstacle 5:
Unfortunately I got to push the bike up the hill I just struggled to run down…yah! When we finally got to head down hill we were forced to walk our bikes again because someone biffed it. We had a narrow and very rocky trail on the first downward stretch – I can definitely see how this girl fell. I was more comfortable walking my bike with so many people around anyway! I did get to coast on down to the finish line though! Our last obstacle was the infamous mud pit. You had to go through this mud pit with your buddy. And I really mean mud pit. It wasn’t deep, maybe 6 inches, but the mud was thick and glue-like. We climbed right in! The bottom was actually really rocky so I crawled through on my hands and tippy toes – I was muddy at the end! As I crawled through the mud I could feel my tutu slipping lower and lower. When we finally got to the end of the mud pit I stood up to get out and my tutu was still in the mud. Whoops! It is a good thing I was wearing black leggings and my variation of bloomers! I’m pretty sure that the race photographers got a pretty good photo of this moment – we will just have to wait for them to post the photos!
Some friend from college – Katie & Crystal – happened to be doing this race and they went through the mud pit at about the same time we did. This worked out great for us because Crystal’s fiance, Keith, had a camera to document the muddery! Until the race photographers post photos online this is the only photo I have of us at the finish line…
Once out of the mud pit and across the finish line we made our way over to the “showers”. The showers consisted of 3 poles with about 30 hoses attached to each. We used these hoses to spray each other down. This is where having the race at a ski slope where water is pumped up the hill to create snow was probably a good thing – even with 90ish hoses going everyone still had decent water pressure! You needed a partner to complete the race and having a partner just as muddy as you came in handy. There is no way I would have been able to hose myself down! One person held the hose while the other rubbed all the mud away. It took a lot of work to get all of the mud off!
This is a photo of the shower area and it really shows just how much mud was caked to our legs – from the waist down we basically looked like mud people! And it was thick, sticky mud – on our legs it was almost an inch thick! You can hardly see me, but my shell is sticking out from behind Ashley!
Once we cleaned ourselves as much as possible we headed back to the car and strategically changed into dry clothes. We stopped at a gas station for post-race snacks and made it back to Eau Claire by noon. Talk about an eventful morning!
When the final results were posted we learned that we finished the race in 1:13:52. Not bad for a 5.7 mile race with obstacles and some down time at the transistions!
The best part about this race was that everyone was there to have fun! We had serious runners/bikers, people like me (semi-serious), people familiar with running but not biking, etc. I heard some complaints from the more serious runners/bikers because a newbie couldn’t get up a hill on a bike or because people were going to slow, but for the most part everyone was really easy going and friendly. I could walk up the hills and not feel like I was slacking. I could brake all the way down a bike hill and not feel like a wimp. It was fun!
I would highly recommend a race like this to someone looking for a fun race that is a bit different. It was an expensive race and I think the obstacles were lacking but the atmosphere was great!