Saturday, May 2, 2009

St Francis Mud Run 2009 - great dirty fun!

Today is the 5th annual St Francis Mud Run ! I did this event last year with some adventure racing friends. This year, I was invited by a couple of co-workers who I have run with often in the local Corporate Shield road races. They also recruited a fourth co-worker to fill out the team.

So, it was Jim (team Captian), Debbie, Joe and myself. We dubbed ourselves "Lady and the Tramps". Regardless of what anyone might say, there are two on our team who are definitely competitive in an extroverted way (Jim and Debbie), while the other two of us are competitive, but in a more introverted way (of course, Me and Joe). What I mean is Jim and Debbie will openly talk about their competitiveness, it's right there in the open, Joe and I on the other hand, we're going to deny our competitiveness all the way up to the starting gun - then it's like releasing the hounds after the fox - we're going to push our hardest and do the absolute best we can.

Jim being who he is, insisted on a couple of practice runs. The first one was about 2 weeks before the event. The permanent fixtures were set up on the course (walls, frames, other necessary structures), but the stuff like the cargo nets and the ropes (and other less permanent stuff) were not. No problem, just being able to see the course and work out the strategy for the walls was a big deal.

The next practice run came a week before the event. This time, everything was there except the mud! Holes had been dug, cargo nets and ropes were hung and the climbing holds were even bolted on the 8' wall. We weren't moving quite as fast as race pace, and we actually did some obstacles twice. It was a good practice.

Yesterday, I stopped over at the Goodwill's Greenville headquarters to pick up our registration packet with our numbers and other schwag. This allowed us to arrive in the neighborhood of an hour prior to our 859am start time. Plenty of time to find each other and get a little warm up before we launched our attempt.

This year was a little different than last year. The event organizers decided (very wisely) to break the participants down into different categories. Since all four of us are regular runners, and because we all have a competitive streak, we selected Division A, and further, we selected the 'Corporate' category.

It turns out this breakdown by division was a great thing. Last year (2008), my team was # 175, and we had a start time something around 1245pm. While we were a pretty strong team, we didn't have any strategy and we actually wasted a lot of energy overcoming the 6' walls. Further, we were slowed numerous times waiting for other teams to get past the obstacles so we could make our attempt. Despite that, we actually had a pretty good finish - we
finished 51st out of 308 teams with a time of 48:35.

This year, our team was # 48 so we had a much earlier start time. More importantly, all the teams in front of us were 'trained runners', so we hoped to have a clean run (no waiting for other teams). By the time we got to the obstacles, the mud was in full force, so only the first 10 teams or so had a 'clean' run (even the very first mud pit had not turned to mud for the first several teams).

Our practice paid off pretty well. We had numerous comments from the Marines working the obstacles that we were the fastest over the 6' walls. The teamwork and decisions made during those practice runs might have trimmed minutes off our times - it certainly made for a reduction in the overall level of exertion. That teamwork allowed us to make passes on the open run sections. We even made a couple of passes in the woods. No other teams passed us, but we passed at least 4 to 6 other teams. We caught both the blue course teams that left in front of us

The course is set up as two lanes really - the red lane and the blue lane. This makes for a much better run. It really means there is 2 minutes between teams on the same course at the start.
To be clear, the starting line alternates between red and blue teams. One team every minute.

We caught the #44 team (they left 4 minutes ahead of us) as we made the final run up to the 5 ton truck. That was the second to last obstacle, and we managed to stay in front of them to the end. We got a little confused on our strategy for the last 8' wall, but Joe came down and gave me a boost all the way up. His strength at the end made a difference.

As I carried Debbie across the line (technically the fireman's carry was the last obstacle - where two team members would carry the other two), I looked up at the clock. I saw 1:37:??. We started at 59:00. This means our time is somewhere between 38 and 38.5 minutes. (I'm pretty sure my '??' above were less than :30). That is a pretty good time. Based on last year's results, that would have put us in 7th place overall!!.

Jim came over to me as I was getting changed near my car. He had spoken to someone from one of the elite teams (2 I think). They had run it in less than 31 minutes. Sounds like a little bit faster than last year's winning time. Not surprising as the course was widened this year to reduce the number of backups at some of the bigger obstacles.

All that is left to say is a Big THANKS to the Marine Reserve Unit who allowed us to use the course for the day and especially to the MANY volunteers who helped organize this very fun event!

Thanks to The Greenville News for posting up photos of the event. A friend pointed me to these photos of the Lady and the Tramps...

1 comment:

  1. You did the mud run too, huh? i've seen a bunch of race reports from out there.

    i thought it was a blast. it was our first time running the race, and we went with division c thanks to one really slow member. 4 pm start time. still, i put a bunch of pics and a race report up on my blog yesterday. glad you had fun!


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