Yesterday I arrived home from work to find my husband sitting in front of our computer screen, typing feverishly away. Upon inquiring, he informed me that it was high time I let him take the reigns and write a review based on his perspective of a race. Having just completed Monster Challenges last weekend, we both decided this would be the perfect race for him to spill the beans on, since he and I both came away from this race with very different experiences. I knew he had really loved the event, and was interested to hear his story. So, without further ado, here’s my hubby’s debut in writing on the blog:
“For any of you that follow Holly’s journey, you may know that I recently started working out, getting myself into better shape, and to-date have lost about 40 pounds since the beginning of this year. One of my main goals with my weight loss has been to be able to get out and attend mud runs with my family. I have done a few races in the past but never got to really get into it until this year. Attending several different races this year as both a spectator and as a runner, I have seen the Monster Challenges tent set up at several events, manned by some of the nicest ladies that you have ever met, always promoting their event. An anouncement was always made by the MC at the other races giving Monster a shout out, and to me that showed a lot about this great community. Here is a competing race being given props and space to advertise, showing that these races just want to see the community as a whole grow, not just be the best or only race out there. Between seeing that goodwill, and the great word of mouth I heard about Monster Challenges, I knew for sure this was a race I had to tackle!
We showed up Saturday morning and one of the 1st experiences we had was driving by the infamous Curved Creature greeting everyone as we entered the property. Parking was simple, and only $5, which is a great deal compared to other races. One of my biggest complaints over the years as Holly has dragged me each Saturday to race after race was the insane parking and spectator cost. It was great to have a low cost for parking and no spectator fee! Packet pickup for those that could not attend early packet pick up was just as simple, and one added bonus was a Monster Challenges drawstring backpack. A little extra swag never hurts anyone! I consider myself an “expert spectator” after going to so many races over the years, and another great thing I noticed right away was a spectator map so we could easily fold it up on our pocket and follow the action. I could tell this was going to make for a great event!
As part of Team MudRunFun, we headed over to the biggest team tent and greeted our friends and teammates with the normal hugs, highfives, and the occasional, “man did you see how high that curved creature is?”. We had our typical pregame ritual which consists of Mason running off to play with his friends while Holly warms up for her elite wave, and I go around taking photos of the festival area and the obstacles. This was a great set up festival area with lot of food vendors, FREE massages, a DJ blasting music, and horse rides for the kids!
Holly soon headed out on her elite wave, and Mason and I were able to follow along snapping pictures for as long as we could keep up to them. We then weaved around to other obstacles, catching her when we were able to do so. Several great obstacles were around the festival area so we got to see quite a bit of action. A new obstacle was the Ninja Walls like you may have seen on American Ninja Warrior, and it was placed right in the festival area. Mason and I were able to enjoy watching many people try and fail, and get a big rush from the crowd when they would complete this challenge! We got to cheer Holly on to the finish, watching her smile with glee on the zipline to the muddy low crawl finish line.
After Holly was finished with her elite wave, I gathered with my MudRunFun teammates for our very non-elite wave. The night prior Damion, the founder of MudRunFun posted on our team Facebook page for any and all members to go to Party City and purchase vuvuzelas. If you have ever watched a World Cup Soccer game and heard that crazy buzzing sound, that is a vuvuzela! Natually these replaced our normal “MUDRUNFUN!” call in the festival area as we all called out to one other prior to our waves. This was just a sign of the fun that was to come. Along with Damion, we were joined by Neil of Regiment Running, who was preparing to run his 2nd lap of the day for fun, and another teammate who had run a half marathon already that morning (yes, you read that right), and also had Masters of All Terrian Half Marathon scheduled the next morning, but he just couldn’t miss the fun of Monster Challenges. While many of the elite racers may take that last energy gummy and sip of gatorade pre race, my teammates decided to do the only thing that you would natually do with a vuvuzela, turn it into a beer bong!
After those last minute preps, we headed to the starting corral to be greeted by 10 burpees prior to the start! Soon we were off, climbing over barrels followed by a bunch of logs, both stationary and swinging, to climb over. Througout these trails our vuvuzelas sounded loud, as did our laughter and jokes. Running as a group of people with all levels of fitness and experience gave us all a unique view of the course. When we came to the longest set of monkey bars I think I have ever seen, some of my teammates went flying across like no issue. I quickly said, “can’t wait to get muddy” as I have fallen off of every set I have attempted, and it was the only obstacle I failed at the Miami Super Spartan. Taking the advice of my seasoned teammate, I followed him across in stride, mimicking his motions, and soon found myself hanging on the next to last rung! I was shocked to have made it that far, and had to dig in with the last bit of strength I had to reach across to the finish. This will go down as probably my proudest moment of this race. It may have been a simple obstacle, but with coaching, encourgement, and a body growing stronger daily I was able to overcome an obstacle that has long defeated me.
We continued our trek through the trails, many of which were shaded which was perfect on this warm, sunny day. We encountered many challenging obstacles along the way such as inverted walls, rope crossings, and cargo nets. All of the obstacles gave us a fun challenge and were well contructed. Monster Challenges has the benefit of being permanent course, so many of the obstacles have been built to be incredibly sturdy, and are more solid than some of those you may encounter at a race that must set up and tear down from the site.
Along with all of the obstacles we encountered, we also came across many of our own MudRunFun teammates, as well other other teams on the course also out there for the fun and sense of accomplishment one can feel after spending a Saturday afternoon challenging yourself. We spent time waiting at the obstacles, helping others, giving advice, pushing and pulling strangers over obstacles, doing what we could to help others along the way. It was also fun just watching another large team that we paced with throughout the race interacting with one another, and encouraging teammates of all levels as well.
There was a large section of logs in various heights to hop from one to another, and we got behind a group of ladies struggling with the height and the balance. They had a large group of people all around them encourging them and coaching them from log to log until they reached the end without falling off. Later on we ran into Damion’s daughter running with some friends, as well as some younger competitors out on the course. We got to help them along as well and watch the future of our sport go running ahead of us on the trails.
I had many personal triumphs on Saturday. Not only did I tackle the monkey bars, but I improved on many obstacles I once struggled on. I was also able to overcome the mental obstacle of the large slide that ended up being a blast. It all came down to one of the last major obstacles we would encounter, the aforementioned Curved Creature. This halfpipe wall featured 3 different heights, the last two with a rope to help pull you up. I have never before attempted anything like this, and my 5’6″ frame doesn’t have much leap to it. I watched many others take turns getting a sprint to the wall, leap up, and grab ahold of a teammate to pull them up. After deciding I had no more time to stall, I made eye contact with a complete stranger at the top of the wall who gave me a head nod. Soon I was off on an all out sprint and the next thing you know I was locked arm in arm at the top of the wall pulling myself over! While I got a lot of support from my teammates throughout the day, this time I was subject of some razzing from them for using help to get up over the wall as my leap actually took me higher than the top of the wall. After some pushing I was back in front of the ramp, this time at the higher part to try again. After a couple of quick pointers I again was off in a sprint, about to learn a new lesson, which was after you face plant into a giant half pipe, let your legs go limp and don’t try and lock your legs to catch yourself. One sore hamstring and bruised ego later, I was off through some super deep mud on our way towards the last few obstacles and finish line, already figuring out in my mind how I am going to tackle that wall the next event, because I already knew I was coming back.
At the end of the day, Monster Challenges will go down as one of my favorite events. I am not an elite runner, nor will I ever aspire to be that person. I love watching my wife compete, and I know my son is going down that road someday. For me, and so many others I go out there each week for an entirely different reason. I find myself with overcoming obstacles that I never before thought I would be able to complete. Many of them I complete because I have friends and teammates pushing me and helping me each step of the way. In turn I get to help and support others as well. Monster Challenges provided many opportunites for me to overcome these difficult obstacles. Between the Curved Creature, the Ninja Walls (which I totally rocked my 1st attempt), low-crawl through snow, and zipline to name a few, Monster Challenges provided unique and challenging obstacles for all. I proudly wear and display my finisher’s medals as a reminder of the great obstacles I overcame on that particuler day, and the help I was able to provide to others along the way. To this day I still will show off and wear my 1st ever 5K medal as I didn’t think I was ever in my life going to be able to run that far.
Mud Runs, while hosting elite waves and having awards for top in age groups, are made for people just like myself. People who want to get out and see what they can do the challenge and push themselves. Events like Monster Challenges understand this and give us exactly what we need. You don’t need to be an elite athlete to get out there and complete a mud run. Find a group of friends and go challenge yourself. Finally, if you haven’t already check out MudRunFun. There moto is “Holding together a unique community” and that perfectly describes us. We are made up of all fitness levels from the elites you see on the podium to those goofs on the course yelling MUDRUNFUN and blowing our vuvuzelas! We can help you overcome and earn your finishers medal, or help with that advice to get you to the elite level. In the past year and I half my wife and I have been part of MudRunFun we have both made great friendships with people that would do anything for you, all because of this great community. Check them out on Facebook or on their website.”
~ Adam, the one & only “Dirty Daddy”