Day 167: The Philadelphia Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run

For those of us who aren’t quite ready to put ourselves through the pain and embarrassment of the Tough Mudder, there is an easier, much more fun alternative: The Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run. The Mud Run is either a 10 or 5k race that involves military-style obstacles and one long, deep, disgusting mud pit that participants have to crawl through at the finish. Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? When I stumbled upon this event, my first thought was “Why the heck would anyone want to do that?” My second thought was, “Why do I feel like I want to do that??”

Before I knew it, my sister, Liz, and I were signed up. A bit later we roped our sister, Bec, to join us, and after weeks of anticipation, the three of us packed extra clothes, piled into the car and were finally off to Philly, our future filled with mud.

By the time we arrived, the 10k was well underway and we were able to see the aftermath of this mud run. It was… dirty. Some of the people coming from the finish line weren’t too muddy (they must have been trying really hard), but the majority were so covered in mud that I didn’t want to get within 5 feet of them, afraid I’d become a puddle myself. It’d be me soon enough, coming out covered in mud, so why rush the process? Here is a quick clip I got while we waited for our 5k to start.

It was finally time for us to line up. It was really cool the way they had it set up. You joined small sections according to your anticipated mile pace, and every 4 minutes, they would let another section start. This kept the course from getting congested (and I think it also motivated me a little more when 4 minutes in, I heard a gunshot and knew that I had a horde of people racing towards me!). So we got in our section and the first thing I noticed ere the 3 girls in tutus next to me. Then I noticed the very intensely-dressed guy (with pants up to his belly button) that was jumping around like crazy and making grunting sounds, pumping himself up. To our left, there was a man with a prosthetic leg who had one of those curved, metal feet. The variety of runners was awesome, and the feel in the air was one of excitement and fun.

The gun shot sounded in the air and we were off… straight up a hill. What a way to start!

Now, we really had no idea what to expect when it came to the course and the obstacles, so it was hard to know how to pace yourself. All of this caused a bit of nervousness while running and waiting to hit the first obstacle, which turned out to be army-crawling underneath a long, low net. I thought of my nephew, Jake, as my knees got banged on the rough ground. He’d probably have us all beat, crawling so fast, without a care for his knees.

I realized, after feeling the effect from the first obstacle, just how much damage the obstacles were going to cause in keeping a steady pace. My heart was pounding from the disruption in the running. The next few obstacles were unfortunately scattered amongst more hills. At one point, fter climbing over a wood-slotted wall, I overheard a conversation between two guys behind me.

“Did you make it over that OK?”

“Yea, but the top was awkward and challenging.”

“Tell me about it. I don’t know if I’ll be able to have children.”

It was conversations like this, knowing I wasn’t the only one struggling, that kept me going. That is, until the last mile. More than halfway through the course, we hit an obstacle that was basically a mini mud pit. And here I though I would get to run mud-free until the end! Once again, I got down on my knees and sloshed through what felt like liquid pudding. (If only it had smelled and tasted like liquid pudding.) The second we got out and grabbed a cup from a water station, we turned a corner and found ourselves face-to-face with the biggest hill yet. Now, had we been running on flat ground for a bit, we might have been able to continue up the hill, but coming directly from an obstacle provided a challenge. A quarter of the way up the hill, we had to walk. For a split second I felt some disappointment. And then I noticed that almost every single person in front of us, around us and behind us, was also walking. A man nearby shared his surprise that they had such a steep hill right after an obstacle. I silently agreed. Or actually, I agreed very loudly with my huffs and puffs.

We conquered the hill and then picked up the running for another leg of the course. a few more obstacles and hills later, we rounded a bend and saw the end in sight. But first we had to get up a slanted wall with a knotted rope that stopped at shoulder height. And let’s not forget the wall was now covered in mud. As I approached it and watched others struggle and slide, I thought I was about to have one big flop. I pushed the thought aside, and with a determination so fierce, grabbed the rope and pulled myself up, higher and higher. Man, I owned that wall! It was by far my favorite obstacle!

In a matter of seconds, we faced the  mud pit. It was grose. And from my vantage point, it seemed to be a lot longer than I remembered! We slid down the side, and sunk. People lined up on either side were cheering us on and laughing at our antics. The bottom felt like it was covered in gritty sand, and my knees started getting scratched up. So… I decided to do the crocodile walk. I walked on my hands and let the rest of my body float on top of the mud. It actually felt awesome! And it was very cooling compared to the hot sun. I was enjoying it so much, I almost wanted to stay in it and play! And I just might have done that if it wasn’t for the fact that thousands of sweaty, dirty people had been crawling through it before me. Nasty disease? No thank you!

We pulled ourselves out of the pit, our clothes hanging off of us like weighed-down rags, and crossed the finish line! I felt great! Well, at least my insides felt great. My outsides… not so much.

My sisters and I completed the race in 39:39. Not too bad for all the hills, obstacles and walking, not too bad at all.

Now as much fun as the race was, the best part of the day came next. Showering. There were two huge tank trucks filled with water, and connected to them were multiple hose stations. The cold, clean water felt so good, I could’ve stayed under it forever. And I almost did! I don’t know which took longer- the race or the clean-up?

Once I was cleaned and fed, I almost felt sad. I wanted to do it again! Turns out, I do like mud!

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One Comment on “Day 167: The Philadelphia Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run”

  1. Morgan Says:

    you are so hard core! love it!


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