This race was my first and, due to over a month of extreme weather and longer work shifts, I was grossly unprepared in my training. I was, however, very excited. My cousins, Scott and Don, had raced together in Elgin's Muddy Buddy the previous two years and Scott had raced in Detroit's once before with his local Buddy, Mike. Scott and Mike, this year, raced together as the Grubby Hubbies while Don and I teamed up as Team Ripley. My two goals were to finish and to be coherent – having seen how wiped out Scott and Don were after their first Muddy Buddy, this was an important goal!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Muddy Buddy: there's you and then your Buddy with a bike between you. One person bikes most of the way, the other runs most of the way; you switch who has the bike at each obstacle. You start about a minute and a half apart, the bikers before the runners, and you have to finish together. Right before the finish line is a mud pit, about twenty feet long, through which you have to crawl on your belly. There are several locations of this race throughout the country, each one hosting the race once a year and it is possible to take a road trip to compete at each location in one year.
Detroit's Muddy Buddy course was roughly six miles long in a hilly park. Don and I had agreed that I would be the biker, he the runner. I was set to bike the first, third, and final legs; this meant that I would run the two longest and roughest legs. Wonderful. Having eaten an apple and a Cliff bar, I felt ready without feeling weighed down or hungry.
The men's pairs went first, then co-eds, then women's, and the Beast group – pairs with combined weights of 400+ pounds – last. Waiting to begin with Scott's bike, which had tried to maim me when I tested it out the night before, and beginning the slow and crowded trek, I was very nervous. Scott had said that a racer can lose the excitement after getting away from the cheering fans, but I actually found it to be a relief. Nobody could see me take another dive now! Quickly, all the bikers in my group split into the really hard-core racers and those of us who were trying to pace ourselves. You can guess into which I went. Most of this leg was paved road and flat grassy areas, a good way to start off.
The first obstacle was an 8ft tall rock climbing wall with a rope ladder down the other side. The wall was remarkably easy, but rather difficult for the big guy in front of me. I tried to go down the rope ladder facing out, not wanting to turn around on top of the wall, but attendants were yelling at us not to; later, I found out a guy had jumped the wall earlier and tangled up, painfully, in the ladder. Ouch!
After each obstacle were cups of water and these were much appreciated. When we had checked in at some Michigan sporting supply store the day before, we invested in Jelly Belly's Sports Beans. These jelly beans have some magical energy juice in them and nomming one with a cup of cool water at every obstacle greatly helped!
Then was my first running leg, the longest leg of the whole race. This was terrible. Had I eaten more, I would have upchucked all over. I found out just how unprepared I was and struggled to pace myself. Passing by other racers and going through changes in terrain kept me going. Finally, I reached the balance beam obstacle: easy but time-consuming.
Getting back on the bike was refreshing and I flew by! I managed to keep a good pace for the first half of this leg, then struggled to maintain it. By the time I finally made it to the third obstacle, I was dying and Don was waiting. Sorry, Don. This obstacle was a crawl under a rope net.
I paced myself much better on the next running leg and I recovered my energy. This was by far the roughest area yet with hill after hill after hill; I'm really glad that I didn't have to bike this part! After the halfway point of this leg, I was feeling good and quickening up – from there on was my best.
The fourth obstacle was “The Inflatables”: a 30ft tall, inflated slide with a rope ladder up one side. Again, the only thing that slowed me was the same big guy in front of me! After sliding down the other side, I leaped back on the bike and soared the <2 miles to the mud pit and the finish line! With more paved road and grass, I was feeling great!
Don had been waiting about five minutes for me, much better than I had been dreading and better than how long Scott had been waiting for Mike. Don was expecting me to be dragging and ready to fall over, but I insisted that we sprint to the mud pit, I was exhilarated! The pit was refreshing and pretty easy after getting into a half-crawling, half-swimming routine. Finally, we got out of the pit and passed the finish line!!
This park had a lake, which felt fantastic. Experienced racers had warned me that, no matter how much scrubbing I could do, mud would still be everywhere. They were right. Mud, mud, and more mud. Finally, when I was as clean as I was going to get, I partook in the beer garden and relaxed in the sun.
Later, Don and I found out that we took one hour and eight minutes. Sorry, Don. I met my goals, though, and had a great time!