"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt
Amesbury, MASSACHUSETTS--The Hoppin Mad Mud Run wasn't on the schedule at the start of the year...but it's sure to find it's way on the 2011 event calendar. I received a typical mass e-mail from one of the race organizers about a month ago describing this first year event. The pitch was pretty straightforward...get together a team of 5 and join us for one of the craziest and muddiest races east of the Mississippi. Oh, and there will be beer and pizza at the after party. Team, mud, beer, and pizza...those are the four magic words for aR. With not a lot of arm twisting we were able to put together two teams...aR-BLACK and aR-RED. Tim, Brent, Ri, Dwight and myself would race aR-BLACK while Sarah S., Mike S., Mike O., Peter, and Michelle (currently a friend of aR...but we're working on that) would race as aR-RED. The course was described as 10k with military-style obstacles and a mud pit at the finish. Teams would have to crawl through the mud together with the captain crossing the line last. Simple enough. A quick assessment revealed that Dew was probably our weakest runner but in that group "weakest" is a relative term. Knowing he had recently run the Boston Marathon and having raced with him before I expected nothing less than everything he had. He knew that his time on this course would be our finish time and yet he was undaunted. We decided that I would set the team pace for the first 4 mile road run portion of the event. Ri & Brent would help Tim pull Dwight along. With an incredible turnout (over 600 competitors), the event organizers opted to start groups in waves. Assigned to wave #9 we would have 27 minutes to wait after the first group went out. When it was our turn, we headed out hard running roughly 6:00/mile pace over the rolling country roads. Dwight did an incredible job and hung tough until we hit the off-road obstacle filled final two miles of farm land. The course designer had us negotiate a series of obstacles including a creek crossing, two 5 foot high walls, wooden hurdles (to climb over and under), a couple of low crawls, and of course the final 20 meter mud pit. I can't tell you the last time I had so much fun racing so hard! I almost wished the entire 10k was filled with obstacles. As we were waiting for the awards ceremony to start we were fairly confident that we had a chance at a podium finish even though none of us had started a watch. When some of the preliminary chip timed results were posted we were shocked to see our finish time as 1:08. Our guesstimated clock time should have been closer to :45. With the multiple wave starts I assumed that the finish time hadn't been adjusted and that they would correct it when they did the official results. After enjoying some Flat Bread pizza and hilarious race recaps it wasn't long before the awards begun. They started with the overall team result and shockingly we weren't called...at all. Now we knew something was up. Waiting until the entire 20 minute award ceremony was complete I approached the RDs to inquire about the results. They listened to my explanation and then asked what our bib # was. When I told them they had the explanation right away...our chip had been faulty and they had known it for some time. To their credit they brought us the equivalent prize schwag and cash without hesitation. For the record, when the official results were released earlier this week our time was 45:56 and was only :15 faster than the co-ed runner-up Sibling Rivalry. Despite the handful of logistical foibles, the RDs have an ingenious concept and a surefire winner. They are promising an expanded schedule of these races in the future and you can bet aR will be back in 2011 to defend our title.
"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction." - William James