Oh Muddy Buddy, how I love thee!
On Saturday six friends converged upon Disney's Wide World of Sports for the Orlando venue of Muddy Buddy, a 6 to 7 mile two-person team race featuring running, mountain biking, obstacle courses and a super dirty mud pit. I'm happy to report that Teams Rockstar (Jenny and myself), Hot Wheels (Justin and Tracy) and Rift Raft (Erin and Joey) were well prepared with matching outfits, decorated bikes and even a last minute underpants stunt!
Let me first say that the way Muddy Buddy works, if you haven't heard, is simple. Each team is composed of a bicyclist and a runner that follow the same course and start at about the same time. There are five transition areas with different obstacles (wall climb, cargo net climb/slide, balance beam, net crawl and mud pit). Runner and biker switch at these transition areas. Generally, the bicyclist arrives first and leaves the bike for the runner who then passes the teammate before arriving at the next transition area. Hopefully, both runner and biker arrive at the end at the same time where they must crawl/swim/fight through a mud pit together before crossing the finish line with their "Muddy Buddy."
Age divisions are in combined ages. Our group of three co-ed teams had three age divisions covered. There are about 2,000 teams in the race (4,000 participants). Yup, it's a pretty big deal.
Rockstar, Hot Wheels and Rift Raft met the night before the race in Orlando. Rockstars and Hot Wheels booked a race sponsor (Disney) resort hotel (All-Star Sports Resort) for it's convenience (proximity to race site) and price (discounted to $88 per night after taxes), but in true Disney fashion quickly found out that Disney once again gets a capital FAIL in accommodating runners (no-late check out and providing coffee/breakfast starting at 6 a.m. when race participants must be at the race by 5:45 a.m.).
Dinner the night before was a blast. After a few "adult beverages" we found ourselves in one of the hundreds of cheesy tourist trap stores around the resort area of Orlando. These stores generally sell nothing but junk at inflated prices. Someone (they shall remain anonymous) decided it would be a great idea to purchase and wear novelty "BVD" whitey tighty underpants on the outside of our running outfits for the race. Hilarity ensued.
Hey, super heroes wear underpants on the outside of their tights.... right?
And we are nothing short of super heroes!
Yup, that's right.... those novelty underpants all have one thing in common: FARTING!
Jenny and I decorated our whip.... or ahhh... bike. As you can see we convinced the tourist trap store owners that we needed a "Sale" balloon for the race. The idea here was to be able to find our bike in the transition areas without wasting much time.
The actual race was insane and so much fun! I will definitely be doing this race again in the future. Jenny and I started in Wave 8 (since it's trails they stagger the starts to avoid crowding) with me on the mountain bike and her running. Our strategy was to start the stronger biker and runner with that event because whatever you start on you do one more time than the other. I started behind several hundred bicyclist. Later I'd learn that Jenny started almost with her foot on the start line of runners (yup, that's my girlfriend!). If I could do it again I would have fault my way to the start line of bicycles. The first 5-minutes was nuts. It seemed everyone in front of me was slower or just out for a lazy weekend bike ride. The trail was not wide and features few places to pass, but I found and used them all. By the time I made it to the first transition I looked around and could see very few blue wrist bands (each wave was assigned different color wrist bands) and it was apparent most of Wave 8 was behind me. Kickass!
The run was a bit difficult to begin as my legs felt super heavy. I'm not a triathlete and definitely NOT used to brick workouts, but after a few minutes I got up to speed and again found myself passing a lot of runners. I am NOT used to passing people in races and began to feel guilty each time. The running surface was mostly grass and sand through fields and pine forests. This happens to be my favorite running surface. Screw asphalt!
At the second transition area I arrived running before seeing Jenny pass me on the bike. I started to worry that she might have had a problem with the bike. A list of possible problems ran through my head. Could she not find the bike? Did the seat not adjust? Did she throw a chain? As I waited in line for the obstacle, a 20' tall cargo net climb to an inflatable slide, I see her fly by on the bike. "Rockstar!" I yell at her. We are on course and doing well!
For the next few transitions everything is perfect. We flip flop during the run/bike right on pace. after each of my runs I start slowly on the bike to catch my breath and then get on it toward the end passing more and more people and seeing fewer and fewer blue wrist bands. At several points (small muddy creek crossings, sandy hills, or steep grades) I jump off the bike, throw it on my shoulder and run with it. This allows me to go so much faster than those trying to ride through it and proves to be a great strategy, although both balloons burst or break. At one point while I'm running a guy dressed as Fred Flintstone passes me. I notice he has a blue wrist band.
"Oh hell no," I say to myself and I lay chase.
Old Fred sets the pace and while he remains ahead of me I stay with him for the remainder of the race both running and biking. Before I know it we're on the last leg. I'm on the bike and I can see Jenny running 100 feet ahead. I pass a volunteer that yells out "only 1/2 mile to go," and I slow up behind Jenny. My thinking is I don't want to rush her and we have to finish together so why pass her yet? I follow slowly for about a quarter mile and lose sight of Fred Flintstone. Then I ride up and yell "Hey Rockstar, we're doing great!" She smiles and says a few words, but I can tell she doesn't want to chat at such a fast pace. I hang out for a few hundred feet and then decide to ride ahead in case there's any delay in ditching the bike before the mud pit. It turns out that the volunteer telling us 1/2 mile to go was smoking crack and it was really about a full mile. I ditch the bike and run over to the meet up area only to find Fred Flintstone also waiting for his partner. Only a few seconds later I see Jenny barreling down the course to us!
She arrives and we leave Fred there waiting for his partner and charge the mud pit. This part is a blur to me and I can't wait to see the official pictures (I just might buy one). We crawl through the mud and it really isn't that bad. There are rope lines to crawl under. I hold each line up for Jenny as we make our way to the end. We cross the finish line together covered in mud holding hands and smiling!
Immediately after finishing we were a little confused about where our friends were so we decided to rinse off. The showing area consists of probably a hundred hoses and people everywhere stripping down to underwear. It was a strange site. We wash our hair and try to get most of the mud off. Jenny donates her Brooks to charity and we work our way back to the vehicles in the parking lot and find team Hot Wheels and Rift Raft. We all have celebratory beers and spend a few hours watching other teams finish and hanging out.
Unofficial Team Rockstar Results (Muddy Buddy hasn't posted the official results yet)
Place in 66-75 Age Division: 10th
Overall Place out of 2,000 Teams: 141st
Not bad considering we agreed before the race to "try" and run at only tempo pace since we have a scheduled 16-miler training run the next day!
This was a great experience and I'd recommend Muddy Buddy with flying colors! It really is fun for every level runner/biker. People get dressed up all crazy and nobody takes it too seriously. It's a great vibe and complete blast! And.... AND you can drink beer at the finish!