I’d like to begin by giving anyone who ever considers going to a mud run this advice: Never wear sweatpants. My skin-tight yoga capris would have been perfect for slogging through the slippery obstacles that something like the Dirty Girl Mud Run inevitably provides. However, Friday night came, and just after I laid out my perfect workout pants, I had to smash a giant spider that crawled out of them with a suitcase. (What I mean is, I smashed it with a suitcase. It wasn’t carrying a suitcase. You would have seen that on YouTube.) Anyway, that’s how I wound up wearing sweatpants to a mud pit.
When I arrived at the Klipsch Music Center the following morning, I sported an old pair of gray sweatpants. Looking around, I realized just how plain I looked compared to the colorful company that shows up to contort themselves through obstacles—obstacles like the Amaze Yourself!, a pink, rubberized take on avoiding lasers straight out of a spy movie. I saw women of all ages in pink tutus, rainbow tutus, camo tutus, and more tutus. There was a group of people who came out wearing big funky sunglasses and pink stick-on mustaches. Another had on super-girl costumes. Women had grouped together as units, identified by their T-shirts, many with cheeky slogans showing support for breast-cancer survivors. It was a beautiful, quirky cacophony of people.
Knowing no one in this sea of excited women, I felt fairly lonely and lame. Thus I decided to make some friends. Standing next to me was a group of about 15 people wearing purple T-shirts that read “B-Town Barbell.” I introduced myself and asked if I could join them for the day. “Sure!” Several smilingly and enthusiastically introduced themselves. Someone explained that the B-Town Barbells hailed from a lifting gym in Bloomington and pointed out the owner. Soon we were at the starting line, with House of Pain’s “Jump Around” playing loudly. We danced a little and took some pictures before heading to our first obstacle.
I could not have chosen a better group to run with on this day. The B-Town Barbells left no woman behind. Sometimes we walked, sometimes we jogged, but everyone was smiling and joking. After the first obstacle, which required crawling on knees through mud soaked into sweatpants and shoes, we laughed about the idea of my pants falling off as I tied the strings on them as tightly as they would go. We ran through the PMS (Pretty Muddy Stuff, of course) and splashed mud at one another. Periodically we’d check to make sure everyone was with us, and if they weren’t, the women in front stopped to wait for them.
The 5K itself gave us a few breaks, as some of the obstacles could only handle two or three people at a time. We had to cross a muddy creek bed several times, sliding down one side and scaling up a rope on the other side. There were giant pink inflatables to be scaled, and (wait for it) Utopian Tubes to crawl through. We went down a giant slide that splashed each of us with mud at the bottom. They called it—what else?—Dirty Dancing.
By the time we had finished, I was caked with mud, as was everybody else. We all headed to a giant white tent to rinse off, but there were no showers. We sprayed ourselves as best we could with garden hoses and changed clothes. We had no privacy, just a giant changing room without dividers. Guess we all just got to know each other that much better. Afterward, we rewarded ourselves (free beer!) and congratulated one another on finishing. As I left the venue, I saw a group for the next muddy shift wearing obnoxious old prom dresses, one woman in a bridal gown complete with veil. Maybe my sweatpants were not so strange after all.