Mud Runs and Other Scary Things

Yes, I had to write it. Mostly for my Mom, who (like all moms) never stops worrying about her kid.

The sensational headlines read something like this...

"Woman Loses Eyesight due to Flesh-eating Bacteria from Mud Run"

It's true. Read about it in this article at Obstacle News.

Mud Runs and Obstacle Course Races can be dangerous. So can driving a car, walking across the street and eating at a restaurant. Is that a bit of an exaggeration? Yes. I'm just trying to make a point. We encounter some measure of risk daily; we just usually don't think about it. Yes, racing an event with mud and obstacles comes with an element of danger, but it also comes with large amounts of fun, excitement and adventure. (And you will sign a waiver to do these events.)

Will I quit doing these events? No. Will I continue to be careful and protect myself? Absolutely. When training for and doing these events, there is always a balance of carefulness and recklessness. I always take the following precautions:

1. Choose Your Race Wisely-- The larger the organization putting on the race, the more safety and health precautions there might be. Organizations like Spartan, Tough Mudder, Savage and BattleFrog produce dozens of events each year. They build quality obstacles, manage courses well and tend to have plenty of volunteers and medical personnel on site.  Obviously, that doesn't eliminate all risk-- most have water obstacles and involve climbing tall structures. That's not to say smaller companies produce unsafe races-- I've done several quality small events. But I've also done several small poor quality events.

2. Run Your Race Mindfully-- The course is marked. Obstacles are built. Follow the course and do the obstacles. HOWEVER, you are the boss of you. If you don't feel like you can safely complete the obstacle, take the penalty (if there is one) and skip the obstacle. If you feel like the obstacle is unsafe, skip the obstacle. If you just have a feeling that something's not quite right, skip the obstacle. As you approach each obstacle, watch the people in front of you. How are they tackling it? Think through how you will complete it. Then pay attention to every foot and hand hold. Be careful, especially where there is mud. Most slips and falls I've had have been because I've gotten a little too cocky and been a little too sure of myself. Pride really does go before the fall. Leave your ego in the car.

3. Clean Yourself Thoroughly-- Most races involving mud will have a shower area. Take advantage and hose yourself off as thoroughly as possible. Bring clean, dry clothes to change into, but remember-- you are still far from clean. Just because you can no longer see the mud and dirt, doesn't mean it's not there. I usually bring baby wipes and a small first aid kit so that I can clean and treat any cuts immediately. I don't advise staying around the festival or post race party for hours on end. Stay awhile, refuel and enjoy yourself, but go home and take a proper shower. Re-treat those cuts and scrapes at home. And for Pete's sake-- do not drink your free beer(s) and drive home!


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