Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CAMP PENDLETON’S MUD RUN, 6-18-11: One of three such events where people pay almost $60.00 to “run” through 6.2 disgustingly dirty miles. I did it to be with friends. I was sure I would not like it.

Mud. Where is the mud? Dirt, yes, for the first three miles Cammie (61), Delsie (56) and I (67) run/walk through California chaparral trails, kicking up dust. We see camouflage dressed marines, 6000 participants and one fluffed up hawk on a telephone wire but nothing wet. THEN, the first stream crossing. Hey, I will NEVER dip my running shoes in water up to my calves!

The next instant I’m IN. Shoes fill with water and spandex slaps, sloshs, slips through the stream. Cool water, no danger of falling, mud at stream’s exit, I’m done and it’s fun.

At approximately Mile 4 we round a bush and come upon the biggest mud pit of the day- 30 feet across, waist deep, the smell of an excavated latrine site. I DO NOT EVER sink my body into stink. I would walk six miles to avoid this.

I slide in. The technique is to pull your feet along through the waist high, brown shit smelling mix. In about ten feet you meet a 4‘ tall wall which I hike over, splashing down on the other side. Protecting my bad knee, I do not want to land on my feet, so I fall in mud, covering me up to armpits. Newly perfumed by the doodoo pool, I slog out, run a bit to find Cammie and Delsie and continue on, happily.

We trip along the trail, unfazed by the muck splattering from all body parts. Warm weather, blue skies, we are filthy and euphoric until I spot a huge lake-like reservoir, “I can’t get across that!” I scream to Delsie. My running shoes, 2 sizes too big to accommodate marathon-feet-swelling, are full of mud. They are anchors. I cannot swim with them on my feet.

“Hang on to me and to me” say Delsie and Cammie, my expert swimming friends and they are IN.

I follow, desperate to keep up with my two living life rafts. Instead of holding on to the ladies, I hold on to a line stretched across. So do 99% of the other participants. We WALK across in an ant-like que. I’m 5’2” and am able to hold my head above water the whole way, I do not even drink any water which is good because just ahead of me, Cammie is peeing in the reservoir.

The “swimming” part I dreaded turns out to be my favorite. Cool clean water, poo-pit washed away.

Momentarily clean, we walk half mile to another “river” crossing. Now I prance in welcoming the cool current, swirling around my ankles. My big running shoes store enough water at each toe to accommodate a couple of gold fish.

By the time we reach the second mud pit and wall, water’s drained from shoes to be replaced with sweeter smelling mud this time, I look at Cammie’s back, pure sticky brown from shoulders down to ankles. Delsie turns to tell me, “Your face is full of mud.” Her face and blond hair are still perfect.

A steep incline arises in front of us at about Mile 4.5, a hose shooting water down the path. We start uphill, water washes down. In spite of the fire hose, we make steady progress up, holding on to the fence wire, planting feet in the thick mud to prevent backwards slide. Piece of cake, (chocolate)

Next, a crawl through a pipe, the idea is to go on hands/knees, but my knees have knobs which hurt against the hard pipe, so I crab-walk through. Easy.

Half mile to a 20’ stream with flags stretched across. We’re down on our bellies, heads under the flags. We use arms to pull across, feet floating out behind. My water-filled size 8’s do not float out behind me so I crawl under the flags. Refreshing.

We hear music and the FINISH ahead, we join hands and run down the wrong chute, we are NOT registered as a team so somebody sends us out. We head backwards to the “individual” chute where we squish on through, hands still joined, crossing at 1:42:22.

There are showers at the end but we all have commitments so we skip the long lines at the shower and stay filthy. We jump into Delsie’s Mercedes reeking of mud and satisfied with our mucky morning.

Quote from Cammie: “I’m here because I like to do something new.”

Quote from Delsie: “I’m here because I can do this and enjoy it.”

Quote from Carrie: “I like mud.”

We kiss each other good-bye, the only people on Earth who would touch us are us.

I get home by I:00. At 2:00 I sit in the Performing Arts Center, watching the formal National Ballet of Cuba. I watch the ideally feminine ballerinas on pointe and the strong leaping premier dancers. In my mind, I move along with them in graceful synchrony. In reality, I'm better at moving through the mud pit.