Actually, mud then beer. Last Sunday Jack and I decided to partake in an exercise in insanity known as the
Great Spillway Classic Trail Run

. This is the second largest trail run in the country, and the largest one that is on an actual trail. (The larger run is just through corn fields in Iowa.)

One of the warning on the race signup site is, “Do not wear new shoes!” This is probably because the race is known to be muddy.

Okay, it’s not just known to be muddy… they revel in the muddiness. They pray for rain, and encourage people to dive into puddles along the way. There’s actually a prize for the muddiest finisher.

Jack and I had no real desire to go for the “muddiest” prize; we were just wanting to run a nice fun interesting race and then drink the free beer and eat the free food at the end. It’s a 3 mile race–a distance we can both do easily. My youngest step-daughter, Ashley, had come along to watch Anna while we raced, and we told her that we’d probably finish at a nice slow sedate pace of 45 minutes, since surely we’d be a lot slower running through a difficult trail. Plus, there were close to 900 racers, which always slows things down as well.

Our lack of experience in trail runs betrayed us. The first mile of the course was nice and easy along the top of the levee. It was a typical race along there with runners nicely spaced out and room for people to run side by side, sometimes even four or five across. Then it went down into the swamp. And it became this insane single file chase. Yes, it was possible to pass people, but it wasn’t easy unless they’d stopped to walk and could step off of the trail. Which meant that Jack and I ended up running a lot faster than we’d really expected, simply to keep up with the pace of everyone else in our section of the race. (We are both very pokey runners, i.e. we typically run an 11 minute mile or so.) There really wasn’t as much mud as we’d been led to believe (which we later discovered was a major disappointment to the race administrators) however, the up and down and around and under and over of the trail was ridiculously tiring, added to the effort of maintaining a decent pace so that you could stay ahead of the runners breathing down your neck. About 2 miles in I remember thinking, “Okay… in theory this is cool.. but in practice this SUCKS!”

But we both finished, and our final time was 36 minutes for a 3 mile run, which meant that we’d really booked it through most of the trail section. And the next day we were both soooooooooooore!

Here’s a pic of us before the race:

before the race

Here’s a typical Anna expression.

Anna is not too pleased that her parents have run off

And here we are finishing up the race:
Me finishing

Jack finishing

Here’s the two of us after we’ve gone through the firehose-shower to clean off the mud:

And here I am recovering with Anna and a nice healthy hot dog.

And yes, even though it was insane and at times it sucked we will still most likely do it again next year. :)