Muddy Buddy Richmond features a 7-mile course and 4 obstacles. I’m apprehensive the night before the “race” (if one can call it that), as I have done no training, and I’m a “muddy buddy” virgin.
Two friends (Steve and Maria), who somehow persuaded us to join them in this spectacle, drive us to the Pocahontas State Park venue. They are repeat customers. As every red-blooded American has come to expect, we find a miles-long line of gridlock at the gate – despite the fact that this is a “buddy” event, which means that ALL cars are High-Occupancy-Vehicle (HOV) Carpools.
We arrive and immediately can see that we are, as first timers, unprepared for the “dress code.” BIZARE SPECTACLE is clearly what is expected. And all clothing must be expendable, as the mud it will soon be steeped in will NEVER be removable. Next year, we will be prepared.
We are started in several waves. There are 1,200 “teams” of buddies. We get the unsettling feeling, as we stand in this sea of youthfulness, that we are the oldest buddy team in the “race.”
The start of the race requires me to protect my ears, as the “starting gun” is what sounds like a booming howitzer cannon. LOUD enough to split ear drums 100 miles away. Why it is felt that such decibels are necessary is puzzling. At the start of the race, my buddy/spouse rides the team mountain bike for the first leg of the race. I am in the matching buddy group which follows by running this first segment. I arrive at the first obstacle, where my spouse has hopefully dropped the bike, completed the obstacle, and has begun running the next portion of the course.
I arrive at the end of the first leg, complete the obstacle (a climbing wall and rope ladder on the other side), somehow find our bike in the sea of bizzaro bike identifier tags, and begin riding.
We continue leapfrogging each other through the entire course of five legs and four obstacles, exchanging running for bicycling, and visa versa. Seven miles through thick, dirt-trail woods, as well as long and steep hills that for many, are too exhausting not to walk.
Unfortunately, I notice early on that the event makes pacing extremely difficult. One never knows the distance to the next exchange point (and water), what your time is at any given point in the race, whether an uphill or downhill is soon approaching, and how far to the finish line. I decide that the best strategy is to run hard during my running portions, and “rest” while I am riding the bike.
I notice, as the race progresses, that I am increasingly delirious and have the frightening thought that my buddy has already arrived at various exchange points, and I am unnecessarily wasting time waiting around for a bike that is already here for me but is unseen by me.
Near the end, the runners and bicyclists are obligated to ford a waist-deep creek. Cooling, but added weight for the runners on the final leg of the event.
In the final mile or so, contestants must contend with the thought of making it through the dreaded MUD PIT, which must be belly-crawled, with your buddy, at the end of the race to cross the finish line – hence the reason the event is called Muddy Buddy.
I arrive before my spouse/buddy and she soon joins me. We clasp hands and fearlessly run to The Pit…
Fortunately, we don’t mind much, as this is “therapeutic.” It is said that a mud bath in Muddy Buddy gives you the best skin in Richmond..
We are, as the event proudly proclaims, Partners in Grime…