The 2014 race season has officially begun! (Cue wild cheering, angels singing, trumpets blaring… And perhaps some confetti and balloons! Okay, so perhaps that’s a bit much, but needless to say, I’m excited.)
After a few weeks off from racing, I returned last weekend with a revived motivation to train, to improve myself physically and mentally, and to compete. I was thrilled to finally head back to the middle-of-nowhere Florida to get down and dirty in the hopes of challenging myself in new ways, and of earning a finishing place that I could be proud of. Happily, I did both.
As my 2014 race schedule steadily fills, there was no better way to kick off the new year with a race that offers the chance to win a giant carnival-style stuffed animal at a knife throwing obstacle, to partake in free bacon and margaritas at hydration stations, and to be greeted by a pie in the face at the finish line. That race, would be the shenanigans-loving Mud Mingle.
Mud Mingle, the self-proclaimed “messiest, muddiest, most funnest, 5K-ish run, ever!” is all about having a great time. And it definitely delivers the fun that it boasts! Despite arriving to a very chilly morning (well, no polar vortex chilly, but us Floridians have a hard time with anything under 70 degrees), we were greeted by a bonfire, free hot chocolate, a lively DJ playing early morning party tunes, and happy volunteers welcoming us. Not a bad way to start the day!
Mud Mingle not only offers the typical competitive wave followed by staggered open waves, but they also boast a singles-only wave (love connection in the mud pit anyone?), a 10K option for those wanting to get some extra mileage in, and a great kids course! And remember, there’s free bacon and margaritas! Adding in these options is pretty perfect for any bacon-loving, fun-fanatic who loves a good romp through the mud. All 21+ participants are also offered free entry to a local nightclub the night of the race, so Mud Minglers can clean up, meet up, and celebrate their accomplishment together at a great hotspot (sounds perfect for those singles-wave folks!).
The four mile trek through the beautiful terrain of Seminole State Park was gorgeous, yet challenging. Much of the course consisted of energy-zapping sugar sand, forcing even the most seasoned runner to dig in and push onward through the soft ground that fought to fatigue us. Small cacti littered the edge of the trails, making skirting the sand in search of solid ground to run on nearly impossible.
A great mixture of light-hearted fun and challenges filled this race. As I initially mentioned, there was a knife throw that, if all three knives provided stuck into the wall, racers were allowed to pick from a selection of large carnival-style, stuffed animals (I had the pleasure of witnessing one racer drag a huge Shamu through the final mud pit, it was awesome!). And at one point of the race there was a point where participants were asked to solve the riddle, if they could not, they were required to complete push-ups before continuing on(I guessed right! Letter “E”!)
Then there were the obstacles. They were very well constructed, well spaced, and challenging. There was the over/under/through obstacle, rope climb (I opted for the non-knotted rope and totally nailed it!!), a 8-foot wall and slanted 6-foot wall, tire carry, freezing cold mud pit, heavy cargo next to climb under, and slippery, uneven monkey bars, to mention a few. The race concluded with a muddy crawl toward volunteers waiting eagerly with pool noodles and plates filled with whipped cream in hand, poised and ready to attack before a victorious finish.
Mud Mingle was great! It was fun, it was the perfect mixture of fun with a dash of difficulty, and it was a fantastic way to start off the year! The only recommendation I would make would be that the race director invest in chip timing for his future events. Only runners of the competitive wave were able to compete for overall placing, and I heard several people mention that they wished there was timing provided. Whether fast or slow, many people like to know how they did and where they stack up against everyone.
My final thought with regards to Mud Mingle is that I have to mention the people involved in making this event happen. Part of what made me enjoy Mud Mingle as much as I did was the people. Race Director, Garfield, was out with the crowd all day, playing in the bubbles in the starting corral, bombarding racers with noodles, and mingling with the crowd. He was personable, and not above getting out with those attending to chit chat, play around, and have a good time. He was also kind enough to go out of his way to give my son his own special Mud Mingle dog tags, explaining his understanding that “bling” is important to kids (and the big folks too actually). You could really tell from watching him and his team that they were genuinely focused on ensuring that everyone had a great time, and that, I believe, is a huge part in what made it such a great day for everyone. It’s so nice to meet people who are truly genuine, with no false motive or agenda, and Garfield and his team are truly that. It’s refreshing, and I’d be happy to support a Mud Mingle event anytime.
So if you live in Florida, or want to take a race-cation anytime soon, check out their upcoming race, “Mingle De Mayo” in Miami on May 3rd! It’s guaranteed to be a good time! Or as the Mud Minglers themselves say: come for a”MUDRUNNING-WALLCLIMBING-KNIFETHROWING-BACONEATING-ROPESWINGING-MONKEYBARHANGING-TIRECARRYING-MUDDUMPSTERDIVING-MEDALEARNING-BEERDRINKING-100%SHENANIGANSGUARANTEED-GOOD TIME!”
Check it out! You’ll love it!
(I was thrilled to place 3rd place female overall at this event, and I’m proudly displaying my custom dog tags and jar of mud with the rest of my race medals!)