DOVER — I signed up for the second annual Hog Wild Mud Run expecting a physical and mental challenge.
I arrived in clean sneakers.
I finished the race with mud everywhere, even in my ears.
I did it as part of my training for the Tough Mudder race coming to Sarasota in December. The idea of pushing myself and testing my fitness level appealed to me. I have completed numerous 5K races but this was my first mud run, a 5K with a twist.
The obstacles stretched across more than 3 miles, through lakes and creeks, mud hills and cow pasture.
About 4,000 people participated in the Hog Wild Mud Run 5K on Saturday, which included 20 obstacles. The race started in an open field in Dover. My friend David McCormick and I waited at the start line, surrounded by a crowd of people. Some looked like athletes. Others came dressed in costumes, everything from pink tutus to Halloween costumes.
My costume? A T-shirt, shorts and running shoes.
When the air horn blew, I took off at a fast pace and 300 yards in was immediately greeted by a low crawl through the mud. From there, we waded waist-deep in a creek, scaled walls and carried sandbags.
So many people turned out for the run that there were wait lines as long as 20 minutes between obstacles. At the first wall, I faced an inverted staircase. I watched as some people breezed over it and others struggled. The crowd cheered the other runners on, and soon it was my turn. I went right over, heading to a 15-foot wall rope climb.
Halfway through the race, I ran off-road through the woods, over hills and old rubber tires. At one point, spectators threw tomatoes at me as I completed obstacles set up in the water. I climbed up and over a Dumpster, conquered monkey bars and took on a cargo net, all with the crowd looking on.
Next it was back into the woods and toward the finish, where mountains of dirt and mud pits awaited.
The final event included a giant slide into the mud and a crawl under real barbed wire. I slid out from under the water and crossed the finish line feeling exhilarated.
Overall, the race met my expectations. The natural terrain was awesome. Despite the summer heat, I completed every obstacle and afterward, I got a free beer. I posed for photos with my friend.
After an hour and a half on the course, I hosed off and started thinking about my next race.
Come December, I will face 12 miles of obstacles in the mud and next year, I plan on doing the Hog Wild Mud Run again.
Brian Whitman can be reached at email@example.com.