{Mud Endeavor: A Night Under The Lights}

After three months away from the mud running scene, I happily rejoined the OCR ranks this past weekend by kicking off the fall racing season with a unique, entertaining, and extremely fun night race; Mud Endeavor!

There are only a handful of night races in the OCR world at this moment, and many seem to be geared more toward the elite athlete, promising an intense challenge with a well earned sense of pride when completed. Although the appeal of these races are great for the seasoned obstacle racer, Mud Endeavor took a more lighthearted approach to the night race in an effort to attract not only the trained athlete, but also the beginner taking their first tentative steps into the mud.

There are many upcoming races that I will choose to run alone, pushing myself forward in hopes of a competitive and noteworthy finish. I enjoy running on my own at times as I am able to truly challenge my limits while giving myself an honest test of how my training has helped to improve my strength as I journey on in the OCR world. I, as many runners do, strive for improved performance, a better time, and (fingers crossed!) a coveted spot in the top percentage of finishers. Runners are wired with a desire to improve, if only by a bit, with each competitive race. It is a personal test that can make us so incredibly proud of our own individual progress, but it also has the ability to disappoint should we not achieve the results we desire. But sometimes I find that it is nice to step back, forego the competition, and simply race for the pure joy of participating. There are times when all I truly want to do is have a blast running with my friends and making great memories with fantastic people. Mud Endeavor was the perfect race for this.

I wanted to kick off my racing season with a lighthearted, no-pressure race, so this past weekend, after an anxious day spent at work, I headed up to Dade City with my girlfriends Stephanie & Dawn for an evening of fun.

This years rainy season has been more severe than the past few years, so we weren’t surprised to encounter rain on the hour drive up to the race. We anxiously watched the radar, crossing our fingers that thunder and lightning would not ruin our plans, and were pleased when only a light rain accompanied our evening. A beautiful and brilliant rainbow spanned the evening sky as we prepared to run, creating a happy and electric atmosphere at the starting line as we all anticipated the cannon shot that would signal the beginning of our wave.

Hosted at Pasco County Fairgrounds, the event itself was set up similar to its recent events. One of my favorite features of the Mud Endeavor events is that they are typically located at motor cross fields where the bulk of the course is situated down in the muddy valleys of the motocross pits. Spectators are then able to line the perimeter of the course, and are in a prime location to view a majority of the course from one spot. This event is incredibly spectator friendly! While many races have prolonged periods of time where racers disappear into the distance, and only dedicated spectators willing to make a hike are able to view a high percentage of obstacles, this race venue made viewing the course extremely easy.

Mud Endeavor events are becoming know for including a lot of elevation change, which is hard to come by in Florida. But what we lack in hills this event fabricates by creating many steep muddy hills to scale and descend. Mucky, thick, shoe thieving mud is present at each valley, and slick dirt gives climbing the heights an added challenge.

Obstacles are built with both the seasoned and beginner athlete in mind. This is a great feature that I think more races should adopt! While each obstacle that involved climbing offered a standard option for those able, or willing to try, they also provided an easier option for those needing a bit more assistance. For instance, on a slanted wall, advanced runners could advance at full speed up the wall to catch the top and pull themselves up and over, while beginners had steps provided to help boost themselves up the wall.

A great aspects of hosting a night race is having the opportunity to take advantage of the dark and really create a unique experience. Mud Endeavor took full advantage of this by creating a vibrant, dance party feel throughout the event. Live DJs pumped music into the night, while unique obstacles in the fairground barns hosted strobe lights, pulse-pumping music, and fog machines. This created an almost “dance club”, party feel while we were climbing walls, maneuvering spider-web style ropes, and crawling through several inch deep freezing cold water.

Mud Endeavor was an event that was truly fun. My team splashed and played in the mud, made mud angels, threw mud balls, danced, prancercised (oh yes we did!), joked, laughed, encouraged, helped, and completed the race with 10 “birthday burpees” for our teammate Stephanie before finally crossing the finish line.

I will say this was a great event to kick off my running season! It was so much fun, and a great time spent with friends. Sometimes all you need is an enjoyable romp through the mud with good people to de-stress and have a blast. I truly enjoyed my second experience with Mud Endeavor , and their night race was, in my mind, an absolute success.

To check out their official night race video on YouTube, click here.

I now have a race every other weekend till October! I’m looking forward to lots of great new memories, recaps, and photos. And as always, I’ll be sharing my experiences along the way.

Until next time, thanks for a great way to kick of racing seasons Mud Endeavor!

~Holly

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