The Camp Pendleton Mud Run can be summed up in a few words: HARD AND HILLY…and I absolutely loved it! If you too love running and adventure, I highly recommend this race. (Registration opens on January 1st at 12:01am every year and sells out by the morning.) The official Camp Pendleton mud run was extended to 3 days this year, so it fit perfectly into my schedule. I ran the San Diego Rock n Roll marathon on Sunday, June 5, and then did this mud run 6 days later on Saturday, June 11. People said I was crazy. Maybe I am a little crazy (and competitive), but speeding up my marathon recovery time was well worth it to participate in this dirty and challenging 10k!
We arrived at on the Camp Pendleton marine base a little after 6am, so we had plenty of time to get settled and warm up. I had my first pre-race coffee (black of course), and it was warm and delicious. I wasn’t especially nervous for some reason, so I guess I wasn’t concerned about a little caffeine in my system. I perked right up, and before I knew it, it was time to head to the start line!
The course was more challenging than I anticipated. Allison and I got as close to the front as possible, and were probably delayed about 5-10 seconds crossing the start line. This is important if you are competitive because there are no wave starts – just one clock at the start line, and one clock at the finish. We counted down to start and took off a little slower than anticipated and dodged the 10+ minute mile runners…Not sure why they were in the front? We didn’t have watches or clocks to pace ourselves, but once we were past the slower runners, we were FLYING! Immediately we were hosed down with fire hoses. Running in wet shoes is not so awesome, but I didn’t let me slow down. Allison and I grabbed water at the first aid station, and then continue to run on the dirt trails, through sand, through water, and then back on the dirt trail again. Note: Beach training would have been good for this race!
We started to go uphill after about 1 mile…and it never ended. We kept going up and up the dirt trail on a steeper and steeper incline. Allison looked at each other wondering if it would ever end!? We were still going as fast and as hard as we could. We didn’t know what to expect our first time doing this race, but we really wanted to push ourselves. We were running with the big boys and were not about to slow down.
The hilly trail run went on until mile 4 or so. One of my favorite moments was passing a group of active marines watching us in the distance. We were on their turf after all. Allison smiled and waved. I looked over at them and yelled “OOH-RAH!” To which they shouted it back at me! That was a fun and inspirational moment to keep me going strong and pushing hard.
We hit most of the obstacles sometime after mile 4. There were a couple of mud pits with 5 foot walls on each side that we had to jump over (which we did no problem) with mud on both sides. When we got to the reservoir crossing that was supposed to be 4 1/2 ft deep, we were informed it was 6 ft deep that day! If you couldn’t swim, you had to turn back. I had sand, dirt, and rocks in my shoes, and now it was time to swim in them. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been swimming but didn’t give it a second thought, and jumped right in, using the rope on the side to pull me along more quickly than I could swim! Excellent strategy!
Get out of the water soaking wet definitely made the rest of the run more challenging. By the time Allison and I encountered the “slippery hill” I was beat! Slipper hill is a STEEP mud hill with water running down it because there are people at the top spraying you down with a fire house. One person sprayed me right in my face so I couldn’t see. Crazy hard but fun at the same time!
We had a steep downhill after that and then finally started to encounter the fans cheering for us on the sidelines. The final stretch was the infamous mud pit. Take a look at me diving in (and scraping myself pretty badly). This is the final stretch!
Allison crossed the finish line about 10 seconds ahead of me, and we both finished just under and over 1 hour!! Such an amazing accomplishment for the first time! When Jeremy met us at the finish line, apparently we looked a little amazed and out of it. He asked “Are you OK? Did you guys have fun? I can’t tell!” I think we were just really exhausted. 🙂
To top it off, I found out that I placed 6th in my age group! I’ve never come close to placing in a race before, so I was surprised and elated. Apparently 10k mud runs are my thing? I’m definitely doing it again next year with a goal of getting on that podium.