This past weekend our little family got to do what we do best, get muddy! We have come to love our time as a family going out, challenging ourselves, and getting extra muddy together. It is a great way for us to spend time outdoors exercising, supporting one another, and most importantly laughing together. If you ever have visited our home you can quickly tell that getting outside is our favorite past time, as we have plenty of muddy #selfies of the family hanging throughout the house!
When Holly began her OCR journey back in December 2011, my son and I became her biggest cheering section. We would follow her around, race to race, cheering, taking pictures, and waiting at the finish line for muddy hugs. Mason was just about to turn 3 at the time, and I had no interest in this running crap! However when 2013 arrived our lives would quickly change!
Upon turning 4 years old, Mason was finally able to run in his very first kids races, and he was instantly addicted! He ran his first events with everything he had and we couldn’t have been more proud. Two weeks after his first Reebok Spartan Race, Holly ran Mud Endeavor in Brooksville, Florida with a group of friends, all while carrying a tire throughout the race. Set at a motocross track, this was an extremely spectator friendly course that Mason and I enjoyed following her around and cheering her on. After the tire lap, they all decided to head back out for a second lap much to Mason’s dismay. He was ready to hang with his momma! Well, with about a mile to go in the race, as Holly and company ran by, he jumped onto the course and took off with her! He ran the remainder of the race with her, completing the obstacles with the help of the group. He was so proud to cross that finish line with his mommy, and we were beaming with pride. We knew we had a future obstacle racer on our hands! We continued to tag along at races with Holly throughout the year, with Mason jumping in whenever he could.
Later that fall, after spending a fun night on the patio with the wifey (and perhaps under the influence of too many hard ciders), I made a split decision to run my very first OCR the next weekend. I had not done any training going into that moment, and I had no experience running or completing obstacles, but I made the decision to go out and try. That next Saturday I went out and got muddy with friends, and made memories that will last a lifetime. I pushed myself, challenged myself, and impressed myself by crossing that finish line, exhausted but happy! I was able to do it with no training, but still went out and made the most of my day.
A common phrase was said to me after that first race that rings true to this day; I “drank the OCR Kool Aid”.
After having so much fun at that first race, I knew I had to go and check out Mud Endeavor with Holly at their upcoming race, and quickly signed up. I had watched her go down those amazing slides before and finally knew that I couldn’t miss it myself! We dressed up in costume and raced together for the first time. That Mud Endeavor was incredible, and I knew at that moment that I could not miss out on these events! I felt like a kid again, running, splashing, and having a blast. There was no turning back.
As time went on I began running more, training more, and changing my lifestyle. I’m never going to be an athlete. I’m never going to break a 10 minute mile for a 5K. I can’t do countless burpees. I struggle to get over tall obstacles. I swear while on the course… A lot. I’m never going to place in my age group, or even be in the top half for that matter, and at every race I am inevitably going to stop running and walk at some point.
All of that is ok.
I don’t need to “toe the line” in tight spandex shorts and my shirt off. I don’t need to compete with others around me. I don’t need a trophy. I get my “great job for finishing” medal and I am happy! I get off my butt, I spend a day outside with friends, I make memories, I push myself to my limit, I test my mentality, and I have an amazing time each time I step onto the course. I don’t need to be elite to run an OCR, I just have to be willing to challenge myself and have a good time.
Over the past few years our family has spent many weekends buried in the mud. We’ve been fortunate to tackle many races with Mason, making memories as a family. This past weekend at Mud Endeavor Little Manatee was another great example. Having run this same race as a family last year, we couldn’t wait to see what crazy ideas Race Director, Randy, had come up with. While the Mud Endeavor events may repeat locations for their events, no two races are ever the same, and this event would be no exception.
We were excited to find the course laid out completely backwards from last year’s race! After a quick splash in the lake we were quickly looping into the beautiful trails that make up the Masonic Lodge along the Little Manatee River. Plenty of the course took us in and out of the river (Mason’s favorite part!), but we quickly discovered we were pushing upstream instead of riding the current down. The same sturdy obstacles greeted us throughout the race, and it was awesome to see Mason charge head-on from obstacle to obstacle doing the best he could do. The volunteers were absolutely amazing, getting down and dirty helping racers of all skill levels as they pushed themselves up and over walls, climbed steep river banks, and waded through waist deep water. The first mile of the race was very trail heavy, the second mile very wet, and of course Randy had us finish that final mile running through lots of killer sugar sand. We had an amazing time as a family, took lots of fun pics, and ran full out up that last hill racing to be the first Berkey to cross the finish line!
Little Manatee was my eighth Mud Endeavor event to-date, and I have yet to be disappointed. This past Saturday as I spent time on the trails, I took some time to observe the racers around me and reflect on past events. I’ve noticed that one constant at all Mud Endeavor events is the eclectic mix of racers tackling the course. Racers over the age of 70 took on the course! We briefly ran with a grandmother who said she could not wait for her granddaughter to run with her. People of all shapes and sizes got out and raced, pushing themselves through the mud and water, over obstacles, and across the finish line. Even cooler, statistically over 60% of the racers that tackle Mud Endeavor races are female!
The Little Manatee Race had an exciting elite wave with a close finish, but wave after wave were sent out every 20 minutes with everyday people looking to simply have fun and challenge themselves. It was inspiring to see people who were running their first ever race climb those walls. As cool as it may be to see an elite racer approach a wall and scale it like a boss, give me a team of friends boosting each other over that wall any day. I love hearing the cheers of the crowd and the scream of excitement when someone makes the rope climb for the first time.
Elite racers are awesome and work so hard to be who they are (Trust me, I married one), but we can’t all be that way. We are not all wired that way, built that way, or have that time in life to be that athlete. Despite that, it doesn’t mean we can’t tackle the course with all we have, do our best, and have a good time in the process. Just because we can’t win shouldn’t be an excuse to give up, stay at home, and never try.
There is no reason NOT to go out and tackle an obstacle course.
I helped a young man with Cerebal Palsy finish a Spartan Race this past February, and I am going to help him earn his trifecta later this year. When I used to say to Matt B Davis of Obstacle Racing Media that I could not do an OCR, he told me to Google Todd Love. Go ahead, Google it and tell yourself you can’t do it. So what if you have to walk the entire course? So what if you need help? You are making memories, making friendships that can last a lifetime, and making a stronger YOU.
Mud Endeavor is a great race to find your inner strength. Better yet, since most of you reading this have probably tried an OCR, it is a great race to help that friend, coworker, family member, random guy you saw buying Chipotle, become a better them! All Mud Endeavor events are BOGO when registration opens till a few weeks before that race. At only around $70, this is just $35 per person for an amazing race and an even better day! You cannot beat that deal. The reason you see so many different people at Mud Endeavor events is due to the quality of the race. Each obstacle is challenging, you are going to push yourself, but nearly everyone can complete almost every obstacle. The obstacles walk that perfect line for everyone. Each race has mud, and most events have their staple, giant slip-and-slides (our favorite!). In case you missed that, GIANT SLIP AND SLIDES. Seriously, how can you say no to that? Like a good party? They have a night race under the lights! Want to know what it is like to not run on flat ground in Florida? Check out Castle Canyon. They offer a little of everything for everyone, the events are very spectator friendly, and the price is awesome. Just jump on the deal before it expires (Looking at you MudRunFun teammates always scrambling at the end for registrations!). As spectator friendly as the courses are, bring a friend to your next race and let them see how awesome they are; it’s what got me hooked! Anyone can do it, and I highly recommend Mud Endeavor to be one of those first events!
Adam AKA “Dirty Daddy”
A special thank you goes to the entire Mud Endeavor Team. They always make us feel like family, and we appreciate all they have done for us. Also, we love to see children participate in OCR, and our son frequents the races with us. That said, we encourage you to seriously consider the physical ability of your own child(ren) prior to bringing them onto an adult OCR course, and check with the Race Director to ensure they are okay with your child accompanying you. It can be an incredibly rewarding, amazing experience, but we encourage safety first. Our son has been raised in an OCR environment, with crazy parents who built him an 8 foot wall to climb in his backyard!