It was 6:30AM on a Saturday morning and I was looking at my 5 year old asleep in his bed. I leaned in and whispered “Good morning…are you ready for your first Mud Run?” His eyes shot open and with a smile that would knock you out he shouted “Yes!” The rest of the day was met with just as much enthusiasm as we tackled our first go at the Tacoma Metro Parks Mud Run.
As we pulled into Swan Creek Park, Tacoma, the first thing my sons noticed was that the park used to be a small neighborhood. The streets were cracked with grass coming through and where there used to be houses now looked like a block of evergreen trees. There are remnants of sidewalks, fire hydrants, and power polls, but not one building in sight. The layout did make parking easy though as there was plenty of room down the old neighborhood blocks.
Registration/Check-in was a short walk from the car, but could have been set up better. It was alphabetical but was all under one 10X10 tent that was not clearly marked, which just created one long line and wait times that could have been easily avoided with 1 or 2 more tents and better signage. This, however, is one of few criticisms I have for the event.
The run is a family friendly event that is not officially timed and has no elite heats. Kids ages 5 and older were able to attend and registration was affordable at $25 per person prior to the event and $35 on the day of. Heats were spread out every 7 minutes which I thought seemed too tight, but worked out very well because of the attendance of 400 (They were expecting 250). The event was also obstacle packed considering it was only about 2 miles in length. There were 19 obstacles to contend with. Most were not too challenging due to the nature of the event, yet they were still fun.
The obstacles started within about 100 yards of the start with 5 mud pits. We crawled under lines of flags, tarps, and military style hedge hogs while getting absolutely covered in mud! As my family moved through the course we were tangled in rope webs, challenged with burpees, sandbag carries and a few walls. They also had various sizes of tires to flip and drag. Larger tires were about 250 pounds while small ones were small enough for my 5 and 8 year old boys. We also climbed 10’ mud mounds, jumped over logs and were challenged with a steep scramble as we climbed the final hill to the finish line and got wrapped in a bright white finisher’s towel.
The event director did a great job in managing participant flow and the only spots that jammed up a bit were the wall climbs, which only allowed 2 climbers at a time. They also had a cleaning station at the end to spray off for the drive home. There were no product or food vendors at the Mud Run and no music, all of which I have come to expect. I believe this was only the second year that this run was attempted and I know it sold out, so perhaps next year something will be made available.
The biggest take away was best stated by my 8 year old son when he looked up at me with mud all over his face and in his hair and said “This was awesome!” I totally agree with him. While there is opportunity for improvement, it was amazing to be able to run with my whole family. There are not enough events out there that allow for it. The Tacoma Metro Parks Mud Run met my expectations and has me looking forward to the next one. It was obstacle heavy, muddy, and truly family friendly. Nothing beats a day of obstacle course racing with my two boys and my incredible wife. I look forward to more events following this example and allowing families to enjoy them together.
*Photos By: Andrew Hooper, Jason Reichert, and Danielle Hooper
By day Andrew suits up as a Partner with New York Life Insurance Company but by night he becomes obsessively OCR as a co-founder of “Beasts Obstacle Course Racers“, a North Western regional team with members from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia. He says that OCR changed his life by giving him the motivation he needed to lose weight and get out and move.