News: MCLB Albany’s first-ever Mud Run: From a Marine participant’s perspective
Story by 1st Lt. Joe Kyle Thomas
ALBANY, Ga. - Partly cloudy with a 100 percent chance of mud was the forecast for Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Dirty Devil Dog Mud Run.
More than 550 people participated in MCLB Albany’s first-time event.
Some wore “cammies” while others wore running shorts and headbands. One group of female runners wore brightly-colored tutus.
I tried to figure out what I should wear because usually the Marine Corps make these decisions for me. In situations that require crawling through mud and running over obstacles, combat boots and gear typically get heavier as an obstacle course progresses.
Traveling light became the obvious choice, so I decided on swimming shorts, a pair of running shoes and the Dirty Devil Dog Mud Run T-shirt that came in the registration packet. I bound my shoes to my feet with boot bands while wrapping the laces around my ankles. The last thing I wanted to do was hunt for a lost shoe two miles into the course.
Before the race, Col. Don Davis, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, made opening remarks and Fred Broome, director, Installation and Environment Division, delivered an invocation.
The runners, who ranged in age from 6 to 80, were separated into “heats,” with the fastest runners, or those who claimed to be, ushered to the front while slower runners waited in the back.
As base personnel counted down to release the first heat (I was one of those), runners paused their conversations and got into their starting positions. Once the counter hit one, a mass of bodies ran to the street, made a right turn and then rushed toward the first obstacle - a canal - and arguably the toughest hurdle of the mud run.
Water sprayed up in spurts as runners sloshed through a canal filled with knee-deep water. This part of the run alone was a quarter of a mile in length and was only interrupted by a tunnel halfway through the obstacle.
Runners scattered out of the tunnel like pellets in a shotgun blast. Participants laughed as many among them complained they could no longer feel their feet due to the cold water. They helped those who were tripping over themselves.
My legs felt like noodles as I made my way up an embankment. Fire hoses hung from metal spikes to provide assistance in climbing up a hill. Waiting at the top was a set of waist-high orange barriers to scramble over.
I hit the first mud obstacle and felt as if I was going to need an adrenaline shot to restart my heart as my chest slipped into the freezing ankle-deep water. The chill motivated me to clear the pit as quickly as possible. By the time I crawled out, I had brown, dripping baseball gloves for hands as they were caked with more mud than any other part of my body.
The next obstacle was very similar, with the exception of having to high crawl. Chills shot up my knees like icy spikes letting me know I could run again.
These obstacles, combined with the canal at the beginning of the race were great because by the time I reached this point I wasn’t hurting at all - I was so numb I couldn’t feel anything.
After knocking more mud off, I kept up the motivation as I hit the first set of tires.
Comprising roughly a mile of the mud run, this dry stretch was littered with knee-high hay bales and more stacked tires. Once I cleared this section, I saw a slew of runners from the second and third heats hit the first of the mud pits. The brightly-colored tutus had turned into mud-soaked evening dresses by the time I hooked the right to head back to the canal.
Still feeling numb enough to feel great, I was now running back down the same trail I ran up from a canal. It was at this time I thought of how serious runners say they “hit the wall” when running marathons.
Well, I hit my wall - by actually slamming into the same orange barriers that I hopped over before. Trying to keep up my forward momentum, I rolled over the orange barrier.
I had one obstacle left, the canal. While others chose to bypass this portion, I hopped in the canal at the exact point where I exited earlier - at the fire hoses.
This was my second wall. Meeting so much resistance, I felt as if I was running backward, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel - literally. I headed back into the same tunnel, this time I wasn’t shooting through anything. Sloshing my way through, it felt as if I had battery acid pouring through my veins rather than blood.
However, I received another kick of motivation as spectators lining the canal cheered the runners on as they approached the finish line.
Each runner was awarded a 3-D (Dirty Devil Dog) Mud Run medallion shaped like a dog-tag from Marine volunteers.
At the end of the race, participants rinsed themselves off and enjoyed food and beverages provided by Marine Corps Community Services. Base officials are currently planning next years’ event. Despite the number of walls I hit, I am actually looking forward to doing it again!