It was a dark and stormy night, with a sandstorm like no other. Oh, wait. Sorry, that was WTM 2014. It was a beautiful February morning, Feb. 28 to be exact, and the snow and ice glittered and sparkled across the field as buses transported the eager masses to the site of future victory and glory- Coyner Springs Park in Waynesboro, VA. The temperature was a balmy 9 degrees. Yes, you read that right, 9 degrees! Of the 475 runners originally slated to conquer the 4th annual Mad Anthony Mud Run, 375 participants braved the bitter cold and completed the 4.5 mile obstacle course, some in outrageous costumes!
According to Dwayne Jones, race director, the Mad Anthony Mud Run was the brain child of the Waynesboro Parks and Recreation Department. 5 years ago, the idea was hatched to create an obstacle race with local, historic context that would not interfere with other larger, more popular obstacle course races and to benefit local hotels and businesses in the off-season. Jones says the idea was to create “a big race experience, without the big race cost”. The Mad Anthony Fun Run is a bargain price at $35 for early registration, which includes a high-tech t-shirt and not one, but TWO, post-race premium beers- I’d say that’s a success! Jones was also very proud of the tunnel feature which, according to Jones, is the only obstacle course race that directs runners though a long, watery tunnel that goes under an interstate! The primary goal of the Mad Anthony Mud Run was to expose novices to the world of obstacle course racing with a race short enough to tempt beginners and non-runners and hopefully lure them into coming back for longer events such as “Run the Valley”, which is in its 4th year, and “Park to Park”, which is in its 7th year.
The 4.5 mile course threaded its way through open fields, under an interstate and through the woods and offers runners a fast and mostly flat (read gently rolling) terrain. Added to the fun this particular year was almost a foot of packed snow and ice which made the going, well, interesting to say the least. Runners had to battle not only some challenging and innovative obstacles throughout the course, but running in narrow, hard-packed icy trenches that were only about 5-6 inches wide at times presented a whole new obstacle and made passing other runners quite the energy expenditure! At other times, the course featured loose, unpacked snow which was not unlike running on a beach, and we all know how that is! In other words, the footing itself presented quite the challenge this year!
From the longest tire hop I have personally ever experienced, to hay bale hops, a few manageable Berlin walls (with hay bales to assist novices over the obstacle), some over/unders, underground crawls, balance beams across icy creeks and, my personal favorite, slogging in the dark under the interstate either balancing on a concrete pipe if you wanted to stay “warm and dry” or braving the frigid, knee deep tunnel water, racers were challenged in every true aspect of obstacle course racing. Individuals and teams of 3-8 completed the course in anywhere from 37 minutes to 2 hours with trophies and swag for overall male, female, teams and contest winners and finishers medals for all participants.
As an experienced obstacle course racer, I must say that this event was a sheer delight and absolute blast. From the wonderful volunteers and race sponsors (Home Depot and Buffalo Wild Wings- I mean “Hello!” where can you get beers AND wings after a race?!?!) to the racers themselves, I have rarely seen everyone involved having such a good time. The festival area was a highlight featuring bonfires for warming up post-race, and racers from all over congregated with beers and cheers to meet and greet their fellow racers. I was impressed with the copious numbers of heat sheets that were handed out at the finish line- what pampering! I for one enjoyed not one but TWO post-race Blue Moons, and met racers from Newport News, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio and Georgia. Wow!
*Photos By: Mandy Baskin and Run the Valley
Hot air balloon pilot, Mom to Alex, and I’ve finished 3rd and 4th at WTM (2012 and 2013) and I’m the only female to run it 4 times as an individual. I won Charlotte Spartan Sprint in 2013 (my first Spartan Race) and finished 6th at the Spartan World Championships UltraBeast last year.