Mud. Mountains. Hundreds of racers. Sound familiar?
If you are like me, you are probably thinking that this sounds like every other obstacle race you’ve done this year. Except when you read the fine print, you realize, it’s not. There is an added component of mystery – THE DARK. It is pitch black and the only reason you can see the mud, the mountain, and the obstacles is by the single beam of light from a headlamp provided to you at packet pickup. You are about to set out an epic adventure through the depths of the woods guided only by this small beam of light and the stars. You will be hiking up hills, running across rocky trails and drudging through water all the while not knowing what kind of creatures could be lurking in the darkness. Welcome to Mud on the Mountain in the Dark. Where everything we have come to know and love about obstacle racing is the same, but different.
As the sun sets at Seven Springs Ski Resort in Western PA on August 16, 2014, the first wave of runners excitedly approach the start line. Dressed in glow necklaces, glow paint, and iridescent costumes, it is apparent that this is a much more relaxed atmosphere than the daytime Mud on the Mountain races. As runners stretch out and turn on their headlamps (while trying not to blind their friends) they get ready to navigate their way through a 7 mile course complete with 25+ obstacles. The course will take them on a journey with fairly challenging vertical climbs (about 1,550 feet of elevation gain) steep downhills, and treacherous trails. Oh, and not to forget the icing on the cake – lots of mud!
As a past participant of 2 previous Mud on the Mountain events that took place in the day, I was curious as to how this event would differ. I found out when I got there that there was no timing or results. The method to this madness (i.e. making sure no one dies) became apparent as we started up the first very dark, treacherous, steep hill. Furthermore, I noticed a lot of the more difficult obstacles had been removed and replaced by fun less dangerous ones. It was like the glow run meets the color run meets the foam run meets OCR. It was an absolute blast! I was still pleasantly surprised that they still included a multitude of challenging walls, monkey bars, and climbing obstacles. There were points in the race where I felt like I was at an outdoor club/dance party. Strobe lights and music as we climbed over and under logs while being sprayed with water. All the more fun yet, at one point I felt like I was in the twilight zone as lights flashed in a tent through a mud pit.
While I had to watch my footing especially carefully so as not to get injured or twist an ankle, I seemed to get more comfortable and adapt to the headlamp and dark as the race progressed. At the start, the headlamp was foreign to me since I had never had ran with one. At one point as I reached the summit, I looked back and had to take a moment to appreciate the beauty. With the blanket of stars shining brightly against the night sky, I looked down the mountain to see what seemed to be hundreds of lights bobbing up the mountain as runners made their way to where I stood. It was like paper lanterns being released into the sky, but only up a mountain. For a moment I didn’t want to move, only stand there in a daze in awe of the sight before me.
I would highly recommend this race as the obstacles were innovative, fun, and challenging. Not only that, but the terrain and vertical hikes on the mountain were no joke and the mountain was an obstacle in itself. The experience of running through the woods at night is very unique and one not to be missed. As with the previous Mud on the Mountain events, I was impressed and not disappointed. There was also an awesome after party with music, lights, and drinks and a cool medal at the finish. However, this race is not for the faint of heart, so before you sign up first ask yourself the question, are you afraid of the dark? And if you are, this race makes that fear well worth conquering!
*Photos By: Jenny Turak and Mud on the Mountain
Jenny Turak is a 29 year old pharmacist from Erie, PA who is extremely passionate about OCR, running, and living a heathy lifestyle. She loves new adventures and traveling across the country to run anything! She enjoys being able to share her passions and loves the amazing positive energy and support of the OCR and running community. This is her first review for ORM.