I spent my morning at work huddled in my jacket, wrapped in a blanket with alternating feet propped up on my little heater. As I am doing all of this work to keep warm I have an ice pack balanced on my shin. I don’t have shin splints, but my shins are a bit more tender than I prefer them to be – I’d rather freeze to prevent shin splints and freeze to cure them…
My aching shins are not a result of the crazy hard 5K I ran on Saturday, I think the multiple longer distance runs I logged earlier in the week are to blame. The Freak 5K probably didn’t help, but it definitely wasn’t the cause.
Oooh, but right away I have to say – I am cool enough to be on the local newspapers website of photos! Yup, I feel cool! I can’t kidnap just that photo, but here is the link to all the Freak 5K photos…LeaderTelegram Photos. I am in photo #65 – the awkward looking chick up on the car! Be proud Mommi-o!
Anyway, about this Freak 5K I ran this weekend…it kicked my butt. Well, actually I dominated it, but it was by far the hardest 5K I have ever run! This was my third mud/adventure race this year and definitely my favorite.
In August I ran the Muddy Buddy race – you can find the race review HERE. In the end I was a bit disappointed in the cost of the race in relation to the difficulty of the obstacles. The terrain of the course was difficult due to the fact it was held on a ski slope but the obstacles were wimpy. I probably won’t be doing the Muddy Buddy again.
Just a few weeks ago I ran the Go Commando 5K in the Minneapolis/St Paul area, the race report is HERE. This race was a lot of fun and there were some pretty challenging parts. I think the overall runner/spectator/volunteer energy level was higher for this race. It was a lot muddier than the muddy buddy and I had a blast! I’m definitely doing the Go Commando 5K next year!
I was less than pumped for the Freak 5K as the days counted down to Saturday. I originally planned to run it with 4 other people…they all ditched me. They had legitimate excuses (wedding, work, etc) but I was still bummed. You see, I signed up and paid for this race before they come forward with their excuses to bail on me. I had paid $40 for this race…I pretty much had to run in. Fine.
When I got to the location (about 10 miles from home) I had the privilege of taking my plastic Saturn through a very bumpy field to park up near the race start. It was the first time this personal training gym, Fit Elite, put on this race so I was a bit apprehensive about the turn out. In the end there were 270 runners, 123 males and 147 females.
I have a few bits of constructive criticism for the fun that went down before the race.
First, if the runners need to enter their shirt size when they register for the race the race organizers should hold these specified shirt sizes for the runners! Come on, we thought ahead enough to actually pay in advance, at least get the shirt size right! Quite a few people waited until race day to sign up and the organizers didn’t hold the requested shirt sizes. I ended up with a large…I signed up for a small… Not the end of the world, but not a great impression for the first race they put on.
Second, there was no course map or obstacle description prior to the race. I didn’t hear anything about what the obstacles were going to be until after I showed up at the race and listened to the announcer prior to the waves leaving. I kind of knew what to expect from the past adventure races but it would have been nice to see a course map, or at least a detailed obstacle description prior to the race. The entire race consisted of following the pink tape and seeing what was around the next bend…it seemed to go on forever!
The race area was set up nicely and there was constantly music going on. At first we had a local Top 40 radio station broadcasting and when I was finishing there was a cover band playing. It was festive and looked like a lot of fun. We didn’t stay long after I finished because Chris needed to get to work.
I headed into the start corral pretty apprehensive about the race in general, but I was there and I was going to do this! Here is a rough list of the obstacles we encountered…
Junk Yard – Shortly after we started we encountered some junk cars we needed to climb over, front to back. No difficult, but creative!
Pumpkin Patch – Near the end of the field we ran through a “patch of smashed pumpkins”, this was near the fence line of a beef cattle pasture – the beefers were staring over the fence and seemed to say “seriously, you’ll stomp on pumpkins but won’t let us eat them?!”
Horseback Trail – Not exactly an obstacle but more difficult than I imagined – narrow, hilly and full of stumps and roots!
River Run – We headed toward the river and after running along a very sandy trail that stinking pink tape forced us to head into the river for about 100 meters or so! The water was about knee deep and chilly – we had to walk through it! By the time I got out of the water I had about a pound of wet sand in each shoe…
Sandy Beach & Woods – Once we got good and wet we had to run along the sandy beach and into a stand of trees with ankle deep sand. My shoes seemed to weigh a ton by the time I got out of this sand!
Creek Crossing – About the time our shoes managed to expel the majority of the water we came upon a creek we had to run through. It wasn’t as deep as the river but it was still cold and still water. It did nothing to wash away the heavy sand!
Log Fall – We followed a cross country skiing trail over some fallen logs and kept on moving. It seemed like we were getting close to the finish…
Sandy Hill from Hell – Pardon the language, but this hill sucked, big time! We were headed toward the finish line and the route just yanked us off to the right. The trail seemed to go out and back and was smooth and easy – however the runners coming back warned us of a hill. Uh, yeah, that hill was bad! All of a sudden you come to a hill that just drops off – and not any hill – a hill covered in ankle deep sand! Worst hill ever! We ran down it and walked up it…there was no other option!
Mounds of Dirt – Once again we headed for the finish line but got directed off to the left to take on about 10 mounds of loose dirt. We ran in through a 5 foot wide mud puddle, ran up a 10 foot mound, ran down the mound, ran through a mud puddle, ran up a mound, ran down a mound, ran through a mud puddle…10 times! Maybe 8 times? I’m not sure, I was beyond counting! These mounds sucked, almost as much as the sandy hill!
Pine Trees Tizzy – From the dirt mounds we headed into a stand of pine trees that were planted in perfect lines. First we zigged through every second tree, on our way back we zagged through each tree – much harder than it sounds!
Over Unders – Before we got out of the pine trees we encountered a mess of high and low ropes that we went over, under, over, under…I face planted near the end. Oops!
Log Jump – This time we headed toward the finish line and actually stayed on course! About 400 meters and one turn away from the finish line we had three rows of firewood to leap over.
Mud Pit – I should have expected this…as soon as we rounded the bend to the finish line we ran right into an enormous mud puddle with a maze of barbwire about 18 inches above it. Yup, we got to crawl through it! The finish line was so close…
I didn’t hang around after the race because Chris had to work, but they had a nice selection of yummy bananas and granola bars at the finish line. The cover band was playing country music (*thumbs up*) and Famous Dave’s was catering food. I would have hung out and ate lunch if we had more time! Looked like fun!
Hardest.5K.Ever! I will be back next year if they do it again, but I hope they get their organization together with the packet pick up and course maps. I left my sunglasses there so I sent them an email about that and mentioned my issue with the shirts…we’ll see! If they do this next year I am running hills and running in sand to train…my calf muscles are killing me!
EDIT: Since I wrote this review I found out that they think the course was about 3.7 miles, which makes me feel much better about my 39:35 finish!