Thursday, August 30, 2012

On the Run: Merrell Down & Dirty 10K

Ever since doing Tough Mudder at the beginning of the summer I've been itching to do another obstacle/mud run so when I found out about the Merrell Down & Dirty National Mud and Obstacle Series, I signed up right away for the 10K.  (If you haven't heard of it before it may be because this was the first year it's been in Detroit.)  I didn't sign up with anyone but hoped that maybe I could convince a friend to join me in the fun.  If not I'd just go it alone.  Unlike Tough Mudder, none of the obstacles are difficult enough to need a team and with it only being 6.2 miles, I wouldn't get too lonely before it was over.  As it turned out, however, friend and fellow Tough Mudder Andy signed up, so we went on the adventure together.  We took his Subaru, which got us free VIP parking and lots of great Subaru swag - tee shirts, sun screen, and lip balm.  So we had to get a picture with the Subaru.  (Shhh, don't tell my Ford husband!  Although I suspect he may see this post.)

The event was held at Kensington Metropark, which turned out to be a great location.  There was a nice open area for the start, finish, showers, bag check, etc. and the trails were beautiful for the course.  There was also a nice lake for the water obstacle.  And it only took us about 40 minutes to get there so as I said, a great location!

The 10K started at 7:30 and was organized into waves that were 4 minutes apart.  It wasn't too busy of a race but that definitely helped keep the trail and obstacles less crowded.  We started in the first wave that wasn't military and safety personnel (that wave only had a few runners in it) so we were right up at the front.  Andy took off like a shot as I struggled up the first damp grassy hill.  It was at this point that I remembered my plan to do more trail running this summer.  oops.  Because that's all this race was - trail running.  But once I got warmed up I felt great!  I love running on the trails, up and down the hills, through the trees, over sand one moment and grass the next, not knowing what's coming next.  It's such a different sensation than what I'm used to with road running!  

Although I was a little behind at the beginning, I quickly gained speed and momentum and started to pass one person after another during the first 3 miles.  To steal a Scott Jurek term, I "chicked a lot of dudes."  haha!  I noted that many people slowed down a bit after completing an obstacle; I just kept right on going.  They would scale a wall and then stop for a drink.  I would hop down and keep right on running.  It was awesome!  

As I mentioned, all of the obstacles were easy enough to complete without help.  Up to this point they were the Monkey Cross, Cargo Net Climb, Balance Beams, Marine Hurdles, Tires, Ladder Walls, Low Walls, 5' Walls, Sand Bag Carry, and Pushups.  Funny story about the pushups.  I read ahead of time that we were going to have to do 20 of them but when we got to that part the military guy was telling us we had to do 10.  I said, "10 pushups?  I thought it was 20?"  He shrugged and said, "Okay, 20 pushups!"  I know everyone hated me.

I actually caught up with Andy again, I think around mile 5, heading up the steepest hill in the race toward the inflatable slide.  I had been running with another girl who, too, had passed a lot of guys and then the three of us sort of stuck together for a bit - through the Tunnels, the Water Crossing, and the first Mud Pit.  Then Andy and I pulled ahead.  We were almost to the end.  Three obstacles remained - the High Wall, Slippery Mountain, and the final Mud Pit.  High Wall?  Not so high, really, and with hand and footholds it was a cinch.  Slippery Mountain?  Well, they were not kidding about it being slippery!  It was a huge slanted wall coated with shampoo and you had pull yourself up by a rope.  I managed it in one attempt but it was definitely a challenge.  The most difficult obstacle by far!  Poor Andy didn't have such an easy time.  He completed the obstacle but it took him a few more attempts.  Don't ever say he's not a fighter!  

Then there was the final Mud Pit before you ran across the finish line.  I finished in 57:33 and placed 3rd in my age group.  Wahoo!  That's only 2:30 slower than my than my slowest non-obstacle 10K!  I didn't realize that I get a bronze medal but I supposedly have it coming in the mail.  I'll be sure to show you that when I get it.  Andy was just a few minutes behind me.  I was so proud of him!  This was only his second timed race and his first 10K.  He rocked!  (If only it weren't for that damn soap wall!)

After getting properly photographed, we hosed off and changed before heading over to the Burger Bash.  I gotta say that Down & Dirty knows how to do a Burger Bash right!  You ordered ahead of time and could choose either a meat burger, veggie burger, or fruit salad.  Yay for fruit salad!  It was pretty good quality fruit, too.  We just hung out on the grass enjoying our food, listening to the live music, and soaking up the sun. 

Then Andy got a haircut.  (It was for charity.  And he needed a haircut.)

Did I mention that there was a human hamster wheel?  I still regret not going in the it but we'd already been at Kensington for the entire morning so we figured it was time to get going.  And once you get in that thing there's no telling how long you'll stay in it.  Next year I'm definitely going in the human hamster wheel!  Maybe while Andy is getting his hair cut.

This race was so much fun.  I can't wait to do it again next year!

Anyone else get Down & Dirty?

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