We Try It: Running an Adventure Race

Last weekend I had the opportunity to get down and dirty during my first adventure race. There are a variety of them out there. Most of them are races that veer from your standard 5k and include obstacles of all kinds. I took part with my friends in a “bachelorette brigade,” decked out in formal attire.

The Dirty Girl is a 5k, women-only mud race that is non-competitive and full of muddy, muddy fun. Women over the age of 14 are encouraged to participate with their girlfriends, by forming teams, complete with team names. Team t-shirts or costumes are also encouraged.

I went with a group of gals celebrating my friend’s impending nuptials. She wore the gown from her first wedding, and the rest of the women wore formal wear from various decades. I wore my senior prom dress from 1991. It was epic, even if I say so myself. I’m the one in the black. The lady in the yellow is the mother of the maid of honor, and eighty years old. I can only aspire to be as bad-ass as her.

Panoramic photo of a group of women in formalwear before starting the race

While I was confident in my ability to do a 5k at a good (walking) pace, I was curious about the obstacles. They turned out to be no big deal. I mean, they involved climbing and sliding and crawling through mud, but they were not insurmountable.

The same women, smeared with mud after the race

In the end, my team had a great time, and my friend had officially trashed her original wedding dress. I threw my prom dress in the dumpster on my way out and never looked back.

Thinking about doing a mud run? Here are my suggestions.

1) Find some friends! Seriously, the more the merrier. If you can walk a 5k, you can for sure do the Dirty Girl. Other mud races will tell you what kind of skills you need. Friends are important, because when the bow of your bridesmaid dress gets stuck on the net you’re crawling under, you need a friend to help set you free.

2) Come up with a team name or theme. Not everyone can carry a bridal train through the mud. But a theme and some costumes make it easy to find your friends and adds to the excitement.

3) Duct-tape your (old)shoes. Why? Because if you don’t, they will slide off. Also, if you have inserts, leave them at home. We found multiple inserts along the path.

4) Wear old everything. It’s likely that mud’s not coming out. Friends who do these on a regular basis wash their shoes, underwear and shorts and just use them over and over. I pitched my under things because there was no way that mud was coming out, and it was cheap underwear to begin with. I also wore my oldest sunglasses, just in case they broke or somehow got damaged.

5) Pack your gear in a shopping bag or tote you don’t mind getting dirty. I used my gym bag, which was a mistake, because guess what? When I was finished, I was muddy and I needed to get into my bag!

6) Be ready to help each other. I am not the best at climbing over things. The huge rope wall was intimidating, and it was the encouragement of my friends that got me up and over.

7) Bring your own photographer! Two friends walked in the spectactor lane and got a ton of action shots. The Dirty Girl also used a service that posted photos to Facebook, but once our race bibs were covered in mud, they couldn’t tag us.

And that’s it! Go for the fun, stay for the adventure. The next day my glutes hurt, but not badly. Have you ever done an adventure race? Which ones have caught your eye?

6 replies on “We Try It: Running an Adventure Race”

I just did one this weekend and it was a great time. I did the Gladiator Rock N Run. There were some pretty hardcore obstacles (ice baths, barbed wire, etc), but nothing impossible. We tried everything, but stuff like the rope climb just wasn’t happening and they gave you the option of 10 burpees to skip an obstacle. There was a really great sense of camaraderie on the course, too. I was just doing it with one other friend and we made friends and helped out complete strangers along the course.

Some tips I’d advise: in lieu of underwear, wear a bathing suit under your clothes. It’ll make you feel more comfortable stripping down to rinse off afterwards, if available.
Bring a trash bag for your muddy clothes so you don’t have to put them in your regular bag.
Facewipes and QTips help after the rinse down, too.

I don’t know if I’ll do another (although I think we inspired some friends so maybe we’ll try the Dirty Girl in February), but it’s definitely something I’m happy I did.

(I’m the one on the left.)

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