Spring has arrived! And while the rest of the country breathes a sigh of relief as the season change provides a glimmer of hope that the snow will soon be melting, the Floridian racing season kicks off in full swing as we are blessed with mild mornings filled with cool breezes and the soothing sway of palm trees, which then melt into warm days without the harsh humidity of the summer months. If perfection were possible, Spring in Florida would be it. (Sorry northern friends, don’t bail out on this blog post yet.)
In what seems like a perfect pairing of fate and determination, as 2015 gave birth to a new season, one filled with hope and anticipation for wonderful things to come, Dirty Foot Mud Run also decided that this would be their weekend to stage an epic comeback.
Having made its first appearance back in June of 2012, Dirty Foot hosted three events and then quietly slipped away; many assuming that this race had gone the way of so many others which are no longer in existence. But Dirty Foot Mud Run was not about to leave the OCR playing field without a fight, and last fall they excitedly announced a new event which was to be hosted in March of 2015. They were making a comeback, and they planned to make it a memorable one.
The race, hosted at the beautiful Hardee Lakes Park in South/Central Florida (about an hour from Tampa), boasted 4.5 miles of challenging yet gorgeous terrain. While Florida is notorious for being incredibly flat, providing fast courses for running enthusiasts, this course still packed a punch as a good portion of the running was to be done in squishy, shoe-sucking mud. The park was gorgeous, and we were sent out to trek along the edge of calm lakes and cruised through Florida forests and fields.
But it was not the pretty terrain and beautiful weather that made the Dirty Foot Mud Run’s comeback epic; instead it was the constant barrage of challenging obstacles which tested even the most seasoned athlete throughout the course that will make it memorable. Wall after wall, climb after climb, each obstacle seemed determined to conquer those who attempted them. The walls were slick and steep, whether inverted or parallel to the ground, and each brought with it the requirement to muster all strength possible to complete it. Whether crawling, climbing, or running, participants were challenged to the most of their abilities during this course.
A two minute penalty was doled out for all (and there were many) who could not complete a swinging rope gauntlet, and one minute was assigned to any too fearful to attempt the insane, 20+ foot jump into a muddy pool of water. A cement brick drag, a heavy sandbag carry, and multiple walls to climb and mud pits to crawl made for a course designed to test the mettle of any participant.
Eager to see what this race had to offer, I ran with the competitive wave and was not only impressed with the incredible calibur of racers who attended this event, but also by how challenging the course was. An early obstacle which broke caused initial concern, but the rest of obstacles proved to be solid and sturdy. My only concern might be for less seasoned racers and their ability to complete certain obstacles, but each test provided an easier choice or the ability to go around if unable to complete.
Dirty Foot Mud Run surprised me. To be frank, an OCR making a comback from previous disappearance left me a bit skeptical, however this race truly challenged my overall strength and abilities in a way that I was not expecting. Post-race photos of friends showing off proud bruises earned after a grand struggle, and a comeback done correctly could very well mean a race that makes a great impact on a very tight-knit group of passionate OCR enthusiasts.
I know I’ll be returning for another go at Dirty Foot Mud Run, as I feel this race was well thought out, and meticulously put together with the OCR-racer in mind. Be sure to stay tuned for exciting new announcements regarding upcoming events!
Thank you to Geno, head of Dirty Foot Mud Run, for bringing me out to your race this past weekend. I loved it! I may be battered and bruised today, but your race truly tested my overall strength and endurance, which is exactly what I hope for in a quality race! I can’t wait to come back for more!