Time to get mucked up: A North Winder faces the mud run for the first time

Photo+by+Lindsey+Eaton%3A+Participants+crawl+through+mud+and+sand+while+navigating+underneath+a+tangled+web+of+ropes+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+21+at+the+%E2%80%9CMuck+it+U.P.%E2%80%9D+mud+run+5K+obstacle+course+on+Marquette+Mountain.

Photo by Lindsey Eaton: Participants crawl through mud and sand while navigating underneath a tangled web of ropes on Saturday, Oct. 21 at the “Muck it U.P.” mud run 5K obstacle course on Marquette Mountain.

Lindsey Eaton

A cool, fall breeze rustled the leaves, while the dazzling blue sky was speckled with clouds as round and soft as cotton balls. It was the perfect day to get muddy and to conquer an obstacle course for bragging rights.

The YMCA’s “Muck It U.P.” mud run 5K ran from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21, with over 300 participants traversing from the top of Marquette Mountain to the bottom through 500 feet of challenges. People traveled from all over the Upper Peninsula to participate, and some spectators even traveled from the Lower Peninsula to cheer on their
loved ones.

I had never done a 5K before, let alone a 5K obstacle course… but I was up for the challenge. I decided to sign up for the mud run back in August, and knew that it would be an exciting milestone to accomplish. I am not the most athletic person… I mean, I used to swim competitively, but running is not my forte. Despite that, I had always wanted to do a 5K and check that item off of my bucket list. “Go big or go home” became my motto for the race. 

Considering there were hundreds participating in the mud run, checking in was a breeze. The greeters smiled and wished me luck as I quickly signed my life away on a waiver, they handed me a lift ticket and a muted green T-shirt.

“The second heat starts at 10:40 [a.m.],” they told me and sent me on my way.

I placed the lift ticket on my thigh and headed toward the chair lift. The lift slowly glided up the mountain, squeaking and moaning along the way. The obstacles began popping up over the horizon and along the landscape: mounds of dirt and sand piled high, wide pools of murky water speckled across the path, along with ropes, tubes
and nets.

Once at the top of the mountain, I made my way over to the start of the race. Participants of ages 12 and older lined up at the start.

The countdown began “Five… Four… Three… Two; Good luck… ONE,” and the racers took off.

Ethan Knake, a junior civil engineering major and Cameron Gregg, a junior finance major from Michigan Technological University, shot forward and led the group down the hill to the first obstacle: a four-foot deep pool filled with mud and ice-cold water. They plunged in without any hesitation, and disappeared up the hill on the way to the next obstacle.

“We finished midway through the first heat,” Knake said. “It was a fun course.”

For me, it was a fun course too, but it was also difficult. The second obstacle was conquering a steep hill directly after plunging into the ice-cold water. Then came crawling through the sand and dirt under a canopy covered in leaves.

There were many challenging obstacles, but the hardest for me was one toward the end. The obstacle was three hurdles, with deep puddles on either side of the hurdle. The water was freezing cold and had deep, gooey mud at the bottom which engulfed my shoe. I have a bruise both the size and color of a large avocado on my inner thigh from executing the hurdles rather poorly.  I whipped my leg up onto one of hurdles, only to realize that was a bad idea.  The rough edges of the wooden hurdle dug into my thigh and have left a mark for me to remember them by.

After the hurdles, there was a slip-n-slide and a rope course, which thoroughly coated me in mud right before crossing the finish line.   It seemed as though I had been running for hours, although in reality, it was only about 40 minutes.  Nevertheless, I was thankful to be done.

After finishing, participants exchanged high-fives and exhausted embraces. Although I was tired, muddy and sore, my heart felt full from the amount of support I received up to and on the day of the race. 

Fellow participant Sophie Slamp, an NMU senior photography major, was caught off-guard by rigors of the course, but enjoyed her experience as well.

“It was more challenging than I expected. I didn’t look at what type of obstacles were on the track before the race,” Slamp explained, adding that she would try another race like this in the future. “I love fun runs.”