I love racing. Granted, I’m not terribly good at it; there are oodles of people that are stronger and faster than me, and have a greater competitive spirit. But in terms of a goal to get me out the door and running by 6:30 AM, nothing beats an upcoming race that I have paid $30 or more for the privilege of beating myself into oblivion. Nothing says “pay us so you can abuse yourself” more than the MCM series event Run Amuck.
Run Amuck is a 4-mile obstacle course through woods on board MCB Quantico. It took place on Saturday, with a recorded total of 2224 finishers. First off, this is the biggest race I have ever participated in; heck, they had wave starts. I’ve NEVER been a part of a race that required waves! Chip timing, sure. Wave starts were a new one for me. My neighbor and friend Meagan and I signed up for this race and decided to run in the same wave, even though technically, she was in a wave a few minutes before mine. The starting area, on the infield of Butler Stadium’s track, was really keyed up-lots of loud music playing (which inspired a dance party by the 2 of us), mud-covered runners sprinting across the finish line, Marines ensuring everything was running smoothly. Meagan and I took our places on the track, waiting. 90 seconds…60 seconds…30 seconds…3…2…1…*siren* and we were off!
After a brief stint on the track, the course took off into a back road, which was fairly innocuous (except for a major hill that reduced others around us to a walk). We had to stop at a station to do jumping jacks. The first obstacle was a stack of hay bales, which I got over without too much trouble. A Woman Marine was standing at the hay bales, yelling at us that it shouldn’t be hard, it used to be higher, so get over it already! Farther down the road was tires. The course curved to the left, sending us off-road and immediately into the first mud pit. That was some serious mud. The water only came up to my knees, but the mud underneath was both sticky and slippery. It tried to pull my sneakers right off my feet! Keeping my knees high as I ran through helped, but it was still tough going. The smell was unbelievable; I wondered out-loud why it smelled like the state fair. We faced some serious hills after emerging from the mud, “encouraged” by a Marine at the top yelling at those weaker individuals around us who had slowed to a walk. The downhill sections worried me exceedingly, as it was covered in the same slippery mud. I was constantly worried about slipping, falling, hitting the orange barrier wall at the bottom of the hill, and being done for the race. Somehow, I kept to my feet and threw myself over the wall. We got to our hands and knees and crawled through more of the mud underneath ropes stretched over the trail, again encouraged by a Marine telling us to keep our heads down so we wouldn’t get shot. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the mud hadn’t been full of sharp gravel. The last few meters were pretty painful. But we were soon up and running again, flinging bits of mud from our fingertips into the woods around us. We had to do situps, crawl through a tunnel, run more, do flutter kicks, run under a firehose spraying water, and finish on the track. Official result? I finished 958 out of the 2224, with a chip time of 38:49. After we finished, my shins started stinging. Meagan and I cleaned off in another fire hose that was running to clean off the participants. Final damage report: my shins and knees are cut, scraped, and bruised; my elbow hurts to fully extend or put weight on it. That was awesome! I’ve got my eye on a 10K (that’s 6.2 miles) Turkey Trot in November. Doing one race makes me want to do another. If anyone is in the DC area this time next year, try to get over to Quantico to compete in Run Amuck 2011. It’s fun, it’s well-organized, it’s definitely beginner-runner friendly with a competitive but welcoming atmosphere; plus, it’s very affordable ($35, with t-shirt and entrance to the beer garden. But seriously, beer at 9:00 AM? Right after a tough race? Not for me!) If you’re interested, sign up as soon as registration opens; it’s a popular race so it fills up quickly!