The 2016 Muscle Up Marathon was held June 25th in Spragueville, Iowa on a hot and humid day of around 90 degrees. The family and friend run race boasted 28 handmade obstacles over a 3.1 mile course on a working farm where you could see all manner of wildlife and farm animals. I’ve been to all four events Muscle Up has put on and they keep getting better and more difficult every year. I’ve been so impressed with this race that I call it “The best 5k race in the Midwest that you may never have heard of”. Well, the cat is out of the bag now and this is one race you really need to put on your schedule. All heats offered chip timing and an Elite wave was offered with cash payouts for three different age group categories.
The day started out with the Elite wave taking off at 9 am and the Open class following up in waves released every 15 minutes. After the starting horn sounded we ran around a barn and up and down and around one of the technical hills on the property, many of which were covered with downed trees that needed to be navigated with care. The first of the manmade obstacles to overcome was a set of rings suspended over a muddy pool of water. Now the Elites racers had to complete every obstacle, but Muscle Up offered a less strenuous option at most of the stations where Open class runners could “muscle out” and pick the easier version which was nice for the less serious runner. Along the way the course boasted a modest 500 feet of elevation change, but with the heat it really felt like three times that! After completing the rigs racers were subjected to crossing a suspended rope bridge, log carry and up and down a hill, a tunnel crawl, and a set of hurdles leading up to an Atlas stone drop over a wall. One of the two water stations was next up, and needed, after athletes completed a cargo net climb and then it was off to the back half of the property.
The middle part of the course offered an obstacle some might remember from American Ninja Warrior. Three sets of increasingly heavy walls one must pull up and then squirt through. These were expertly made and very cool. Up next were a few sets of over and under logs that after being completed led you back to the main event area where a rope swing over a creek and a rope traverse over the same creek awaited. A tire ladder and up another hill and then on to where the “muscle” part of the course took over starting with a weighted sled pull and then the best set of angled monkey bars I’ve ever been on. This led us down a hill and up to a 6 foot wall. This took us to the final section of the course where the obstacles came quick and heavy.
First up, on the last section of the course was an Atlas Stone carry for distance followed up by a rope ladder that was a nasty climb due to the ropes being spread far apart. Grip strength testing was up next with a dual bucket carry over two smooth A frame ramps that led to a suspended tire climb followed right away with a rope climb. Now with your grip strength wasted racers were led up one last hill and through a section of natural rock caves where I really just wanted to stop and enjoy the view. The race was almost worth it just to run through this awesome landscape! After coming out of the cave area racers hit a flat trail where 55 gallon drums were placed to jump over leading down the final hill where a water slide was built to fly you off into a freezing creek that actually felt so good I wanted to stay in it. Once you swam out of the creek the finish line awaited you where bottled water and snacks were available. Muscle Up also offered one other challenge for the day for 150 dollars cash if you had any energy left. A short course for time consisting of pushups, a tire flip and drag, box jumps and an inverted row pull-up. So if you like an event that’s challenging where great people call you by name, this may be the one for you!
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