I ran three completely different, yet uniquely fantastic races this past weekend! Each a 5K in length, they all offered their own delightful theme, perfect to appeal to a wide spectrum of runners.
The day began bright and early at the female-only mud run, Pretty Muddy. I arrived early enough to run the first wave of the day, and was interested to see how this event had evolved since their previous event, hosted while in their early infancy in Dade City last year.
Pretty Muddy is a great event for the beginner mud-runner. This year’s Tampa/Orlando event traversed the beautiful grounds of the Colt Creek State Park in Lakeland, Florida. Covering 3 miles with 10 non-intimidating obstacles, Pretty Muddy caters to the female who may see a standard obstacle race as a bit too much to handle, but still wants the opportunity to get out with her girlfriends, get dirty, and challenge herself. It’s a fantastic, empowering event for many females, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of it over the past couple of years.
It really is fun to see groups of women band together to complete a race that provides them an adventurous time that is so much fun, but also gives them just a touch of a challenge. And this year the folks at Pretty Muddy not only had their traditional all-female waves, but they also added a family wave to their event! So now children and husbands can join their fantastic female family members as they take on the course together, as a family.
Although I had run with a few of my lady friends at the Pretty Muddy event last year, this time around I arrived on my own. Being an un-timed event, I decided to test out my new Garmin and see if I might be able to take 1st place overall for the day. Unsure of what sort of competition I was up against, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but figured it was worth a try to go for the win. Now I will say that traditionally this race caters toward the team racers, those that want to have a non-competitive run with their favorite ladies, but I have no issue running on my own, and decided to take on Pretty Muddy solo.
I lined up shortly before the first wave was to be sent off, stretched, took in the scenery, and prepared to race. Women in tutus and many hues of hot pink filled the area, as they excitedly prepared for the race. I will say that I truly enjoy people watching at events, as it’s great to see the range in emotions and nerves of the many people present at any given event. Especially in the newcomers! It was fun to observe the women present who had no idea what to expect, who were nervous, concerned about their ability to cover 3 miles, and who excitedly chattered as they adjusted their brightly colored knee high socks and flashy tutus. Only in racing are you able to witness such a flurry of flashy costumes, along with the buzz of excitement and nerves. I love it.
At 8am, the first wave was sent off, and I took off at the front of the pack, excited to see if I could finish first. I blasted through the first obstacle, an area filled with bubbles! That made for a fun, lighthearted start to the race! I then settled myself into a comfortable 5K pace, and cruised along the gorgeous trail that lead me into the wooded expanse of Colt Creek Park. The next obstacle I happened upon was a large blow up slide. I lunged myself up the steps and gleefully rode down to the pit of mud below. I can’t lie. Slides in any race are my favorite.
At that point I noticed that there were no other racers near the obstacle I’d just completed. This fueled my resolve to win, and I pushed on.
The course was absolutely beautiful. With rays of sun peeking through the densely wooded course, I enjoyed the trails that I’d earned to have all to myself. The silence of the woods, with only the soft sound of my breath and footsteps made for a serene environment. Along the way I encountered a log carry, a couple of over/under obstacles, a few pipes to crawl through, and a wall climb. All volunteers were helpful and courteous, and each obstacle was easy enough for any participant to complete on their own.
By the time I reached the halfway point I knew that I had gained a solid lead.
I took in the scenery, enjoyed the fresh Florida morning air, and appreciated having the beautiful course to myself. Pushing myself on I anticipated a strong finish. After a cargo net climb I finally rounded the bend and encountered a barb wire crawl and then the finish.
I won Pretty Muddy!!! Okay okay… it’s an un-timed event. But still. Being the very first person to cross the finish line is a pretty spectacular feeling. Now I know how Hobie Call must feel when he crosses each Spartan Race finish line! One of the race directors even met me at the finish line with my medal, and I reveled in the feeling of finishing in the coveted first spot.
The Pretty Muddy festival area was lively and fun. They are also thoughtful enough to offer stellar changing areas that are private and very accommodating. Although I did not have the luxury of hanging around for a long time, I could tell that the post-race area would be a great place for participants to hang out and celebrate their accomplishment
I was happy to be a part of Pretty Muddy again this year! I love a race that encourages women of all physical abilities out with their girlfriends to try something new, and to have a blast all while doing something that is healthy and fun! I’m happy to support this race, and I’d be happy to continue to do so in the future. By getting women out of their comfort zone, and participating in a fun event that may create, or further encourage, a love of racing and physical fitness, Pretty Muddy has a good thing going!
After a quick cleanup and wardrobe change, it was time to head off to race #2, Mud Titan, just 45 minutes away. That review will come shortly!
1 race down, 2 to go. See you soon!