I went into the Z Mud Run with minimal background on the event itself. Turns out minimal background translates to minimal expectations. Whatever expectations I had pulling up to the event were blown away and then some. Here’s what I knew about the event based off a friend’s experience during last years Zmudrun and a brief glance at their website prior to race day.
- All net proceeds go to a charity called “The Happy Home”. As per the website here’s the info on the cause…“The Happy Home” is a growing orphanage that was started in southern India to care for children with HIV/AIDS who have lost their parents and been abandoned by their extended families and in some cases left on the hospital’s doorstep.
- Free onsite parking
- Free bag check
As for my experience itself, if you’ve glanced at my previous reviews, you know I’m a major advocate for having fun while competing. To me, fun is mud; fun is water; fun is all the things this sport allows us to do that we did as kids without a care in the world. I don’t need technical terrain. I don’t need intense, challenging obstacles(though that doesn’t hurt). I don’t need to feel I’m better than anyone based on placement. I need fun and fun was certainly provided on this day.
The first wave was filled with participants of all ages, from teens to middle aged. There were no egos, no brand promoting temp tats or supplement logoed headbands. There was laughing, smiling and the expectation of fun on every face in the wave. The race started after the national anthem. We headed off onto a straightaway stretch of grass that moments later lead you to a creek with water that came just above my knees. That was just the beginning of the days fun.
The obstacles were basic, but the course was loyal to the term “Mud Run”. There was multiple water crossings, one which required traversing over floating boards. Followed by a trek through waist deep water that had an unassuming amount of mud beneath the surface. So much so that you literally had to use your hands to lift each leg, step by step, if you didn’t move along at a brisk pace. The level of fun during this section was infectious. People falling into the mud left and right, causing laughter from those around, with a helping hand always stretched out.
After you made your way out of the water and back onto dry land you were led around the outside of a corn field. The transition of terrain was very much welcomed compared to an open view of a course that I often experience at events. A little side note, there was roughly 7 water stations throughout the 5k course that offered Gatorade or water. It was unheard of to be approaching a water station around nearly every turn, but awesome nonetheless.
As far as obstacles go, it was mostly terrain related with water and mud, short of a cement block drag through sand. One massive mud hill had a rope to assist in the climb but not before, you guessed it, a water/mud pit at the base of the hill. Several hay bale climbs, wall climb that provided three options for completion(tall wall-no assist, medium wall with foot supports and medium inclined wall with rope assist) and one of my event favorites, a water slide.
One of the most welcoming aspects was the energetic, enthusiastic environment of the festival area where the finish line was located. After navigating the walls and water slide you come around a corner to see the final, fun-filled obstacle. You climb a small hill that leads you into water. Navigate through a tube crawl that allows just enough space for your neck up to be above water. After exiting the tube you crawl under a net, still submerged in water on your knees to another small mud mound to the finish.
The event is untimed and not competitive, but the crowd an event like this attracted was so excited, they cheered me on and let me know I was the 2nd finisher to come through. The emcee was feeding off the crowds energy,so much so, he gathered the top three finishers to pose for pics at the top of the final mud mound. An energy level for self accomplishment I don’t often experience at non-competitive events.
After finishing and composing myself while standing with a friend, another racer approached us with a huge smile on his face. He wanted to congratulate us on our race and proceeded to inform us, this was his first race and he had so much fun, he “couldn’t wait to do another one”. That moment right there is what I hope for at every event and gives me hope for the future of the sport. But wait, there’s more!
As I approached the post race refreshment table for my water and banana, something caught my eye. Something…. Amazing… Something … Rare… Something unheard of…. It… Was…. Beautiful….. Bags and bags of bagels, pastries, gummy fruit snacks, varying flavors and brands of yogurts of the regular and Greek options. I was beside myself with joy. Not expecting anything to top this moment ….something marvelous happened… an angelic looking woman sought my attention… and she said to me… “We have chocolate milk over here… Follow me” …. And I did . Fast forward three cups of glorious chocolate milk later, I made my way to the stand up showers that actually had water pressure.
The kids race was well organized with fun obstacles for varying ages and enjoyed by all, evidenced by the sheer joy on the faces of the miniature athletes. The course was filled with families and large groups of friends. An event capable of catering to a broad range of athletes. Serving as a good reminder to the experienced athlete why we love the sport that affords us the opportunity to be a kid again
Z Mud Run had everything I look for in an event, and some things I never thought to look for.
Let us recap….
- Free Parking
- Free Bag Check
- Great volunteers
- Abundance of water stations
- Family friendly
- Chocolate milk
- Above average medal
- Chocolate milk
- Chocolate milk
I certainly will be adding this to my 2017 race schedule when they announce next year’s event………………
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