After a busy beginning to the 2014 racing season, the Florida heat has returned with a vengeance, and I find myself with a tapering race schedule as local obstacle racing takes a hiatus. And as I anticipate a summer which appears to be filling with travel to several Spartan Race events due to my recent venture with Spartan Chicked, I find myself eagerly looking forward to the many adventures that the summer promises to bring. Despite the excitement of things to come, I was happy to be able to conclude the local spring racing circuit with an event that allowed me to race with my family, as we were determinated to run this race specifically for the sheer enjoyment of spending a morning splashing through the mud and scurrying over obstacles.
Mud Titan recently hosted it’s second installment at a beautiful ranch in Plant City, Florida, it’s bright yellow obstacles staining the green countryside with a playful allure, beackoning participants onto its course. I was fortunate to have been invited to test a few obstacle several days earlier, and rose early to make the trek out to the event location as myself and a couple of local participants showcased the course for Fox 13 news. We had a blast taking a sneak peek at the race venue, excitedly testing out the monkey bars, Ninja Walls (a set of two inverted walls that runners climb up the underside like a ladder, swing by a ring to the opposite side, and climb back down), steep slide into a pool of water, and my dreaded nemesis, the ring obstacle (runners must swing from ring to ring to an opposite platform). The rings have always defeated me at every encounter, and I anticipate them with dread. Without fail (on live television!), I showcased my inability to conquer this obstacle by maneuvering across two rings, and then splashing as gracefully as I could (if that’s even possible) into the murky water below.
Race day arrived, and despite the slight nagging at my soul to jump in with the competitive wave when the horn blasted, announcing their departure, I had decided to hang back and run with my hubby, son, and a few friends at our own laid back pace that day. After several weeks of competitive racing and intense challenges, it was time to just get out and have a good time without the pressure of competing. The heat of the sun beat down on us once we were sent on our way, but thankfully the course provided plenty of water to splash though, along with occasional stretches of shade, and as an event that prides itself on being “obstacle heavy”, we enjoyed the regular encounters with obstacles along the route.
This specific event will always stand out to me for a couple of very special reasons. To begin with, Mason was a champ! At only 5 years old, he ran most of the 3.5 mile course, and tackled many of the obstacles on his own. He conquered a few of his own fears at this event as well, which made me extremely proud of his bravery and willingness to step out of his comfort zone (under my supervision of course) to try something new. For instance, he was nervous about the incline wall, and although I could tell he desperately wanted to climb it, he would reach the halfway point and panic. We decided to take on this obstacle together, so he hopped on my back and we climbed the wall, with him holding onto my shoulders for dear life as we ascended. He was nervous, but I assured him that I wouldn’t let him fall, and once we were again on solid ground he gleefully celebrated with me, ecstatic over his victory. We also encountered a small lake with rope strung across, and were instructed that our knees were to stay above water as we crossed. Baffled as to how Mason and I would complete this feat, we decided to get creative; I placed Mason on my stomach and pulled us across, my knees staying above water as required the entire time. Once back on dry ground, Mason begged to do it again, his favorite obstacle of the day. At obstacles Mason knew he was unable to complete, he took it upon himself to run ahead a bit with his vuvuzela horn; he’d then blast his horn, offering high-fives to all participants who passed him by. He truly brought a happy spark of energy to the course, and he had a great time running, taking on obstacles, and cheering on other runners. It’s moments like these that make a Mommy truly proud.
As we neared the final stretch of the race, the ring obstacle approached and I prepared (yet again) to face defeat. Stepping up onto the platform, I sucked my breath in, staring down the row of rings as if challenging them to battle. It was time to give this enemy another try, and I proceeded forward with a resolve to make it at least a little bit further than prior attempts. As I swung forward, I realized that perhaps instead of not having the upper-body strength to complete the obstacle, maybe I simply had not carried with me the confidence to truly conquer it. I dug deep, and steadily swung from one ring, to the next, to the next, until I triumphantly realized that I had made it to the final ring! Once firmly planted on the cargo net on the opposite side, I shrieked with excitement. I had done it! I had finally completed an obstacle that had defeated me on so many occasions! I know many can join me in confirming that this feeling has got to be one of the very best feelings, leaving you with a thrilling high of pride and accomplishment. It was awesome!
Mud Titan events are a great family event! I enjoy the abundance of obstacles that are situated throughout the course, they offer a great kids race, and the festival area is bustling with games and activities. A large slip-n-slide with sprinklers was provided for kids, and this helped to keep them cool, happy, and occupied for hours. Several obstacles were positioned around the festival area, creating a great spectator arena, and music pumped throughout the day as spectators and runners alike relaxed, played, and otherwise enjoyed the day post-race. My only critique of the Mud Titan event would be that several obstacles seemed shaky and unsteady by the time we reached them, so seeking out a sturdier method of construction would be recommended not only for the peace of mind of participants, but also for the safety of all involved.
Mud Titan has a couple of great events coming up! They will return to Plant City on September 6th, hosting the 3rd installment of their namesake race. Not only that, but they are also hosting Tactical Titan, an obstacle race with no mud at the Florida State Fairgrounds on October 18th! I definitely plan to get in on the fun, and hope to see you there as well!
Thank you to Mike Nelson, Race Director of Mud Titan, for your generosity, support, and true interest in creating a fantastic family-friendly event! Your genuine character makes supporting the Mud Titan events something I am proud to do. See you next time!