So for the last five years I have captained an ever-growing band of fun runners, who get together once a year to play in the mud in order to support The National MS Society, with the hope of raising awareness and cold hard cash to fight Multiple Sclerosis. This will be the sixth year that Marcella’s muckerS has competed in this friendly event and our team has grown from a respectable thirteen runners, or Muckers, in 2013 to forty-three in 2017.
Eventually people smarten up and decide not to continue to abuse their bodies or realize that mud doesn’t belong in every orifice in their body, so when I come calling the following year asking them to join us they quickly book a trip to some exciting destination, like Afghanistan, or North Korea. If their passport has been revoked they may feign an injury or if they are method actors they will have a loved one jump on their ankle until it fractures. For reasons like that, I find myself being asked the same question every year by new Muckers I have shanghaied, I mean recruited, to run with us. How do I train for this?
That is a great question. I usually just ask them if they drink. If the answer is no, I suggest they start, If the answer is yes, I suggest they drink more. Personally, I have been training for this event for years now. My liver completes it in record time. Others may want to take this as a serious challenge to their physical and mental stamina. That brings about the conversation of the race as a metaphor for the physical, mental, and emotional challenges someone with Multiple Sclerosis suffers, but others can speak to that much better than I.
I’ve decided to put together a definitive training guide. This guide will test not only your strength, speed, and dexterity, but may also test your bail bondsman and lawyer, since it may take breaking and entering or trespassing in order to find a landscape as harsh and cruel as a mud-run course. You may also drag down others with you since there is a necessary component to this training that requires a trainer, or as we call them in the illicit training trade, accomplices.
WHAT HAPPENS: You begin the race in the Muckin’ Corral where you and five-hundred of your closest friends are penned in a muddy area awaiting the race to begin. Usually an MC will attempt to get the crowd focused on the trial at hand by cracking jokes or calling out teams who have done well fundraising.
HOW TO TRAIN: Visit your local cow or pig farm. Climb in the most crowded pen you can find. Stand around for twenty minutes while your trainer blasts AC/DC or Guns and Roses out of a boom box built in 1988. Attempt to take off your wedding band, watch, and sunglasses. Push through the herd of animals and hand off the items to your trainer without dropping them in the mud, where they will be lost forever or eaten by swine.
WHAT HAPPENS: The race begins at the Start where you will be jostled, pushed, potentially trampled, and soaked while passing through an archway that sprays water down on you in an effort to maximize the amount of mud you will carry with you throughout the race.
HOW TO TRAIN: Buy a ticket at your local multiplex for a new release. I recommend something about Star Wars or a Marvel Super Hero. About twenty minutes into the film yell “Shark”, because you should never yell “Fire” in a movie theater. As everyone begins to exit in a safe and orderly manner, as prescribed just twenty minutes earlier in a helpful on-screen instructional, pour your extra-large fountain drink over your head and push your way to the exit.
WHAT HAPPENS: Your first real obstacle is the Triple Pits, which true to its name, is three muddy, rocky pits that you must run into and out of, possibly by using the person in front of you as a human ladder.
HOW TO TRAIN: Find a local skateboard park. Have the local skate punks’ practice their most difficult tricks while you run down and up the steepest portion of their half-pipe. Bonus points if a rider performs a 360 Ollie Kickflip over you or a Grind on you.
WHAT HAPPENS: You run into the Big Balls, which as you may imagine, are a group of big balls suspended over a pit of mud, possibly on some sort of intricate overhead wire system, possibly by the same magic that keeps balloons aloft. I’ve never thought to look up and see or I did and forgot after my concussion.
HOW TO TRAIN: Fill your bathtub with ½ inch water, ½ inch potting soil. Have your trainer throw red rubber playground balls at you until you slip and fall.
WHAT HAPPENS: You enter the Tunnel of Love, which is aptly named since you come out of it dirtier then you went in and your knees and elbows are sore and possibly rug burned.
HOW TO TRAIN: Find a highway construction site, crawl through the longest length of concrete drainage pipe you can find.
WHAT HAPPENS: You run across the Shake & Quake and while you never actually fall in the water, you do flinch like a little girl when the water actuators go off, hitting you with a stream from a small water cannon.
HOW TO TRAIN: Go down to your local fire station, preferably one with a pump truck. Heckle the firemen until they turn the hose on you. If you don’t have a working or friendly relationship with your local fire department you may go to any major city and start a riot. The water cannons turned on you by police work in much the same manner.
WHAT HAPPENS: You thread your way through the Spider Web, which is like the worst knot your shoe has ever had wrapped around a ball of unwound yarn, stretched across your door frame with bungee cords.
HOW TO TRAIN: Purchase fifty or more bungee cords, wrap around yarn and shoelaces, and attach to door frame. Climb through. Fall. Climb. Fall. Repeat.
WHAT HAPPENS: You get a chance to play on the Swing Set and launch yourself into a pit of water. If you are the type that must hold your nose in the shower, this is going to be a problem.
HOW TO TRAIN: Go to your local park, preferably at night. Borrow the swing set. Set up swing set in front of an in-ground pool. Stand on swing seat, pump until potential energy and maximum height is reached. Leap off. Remember to set up the swing so the length of the pool is in front of you. You should probably remember that before the whole potential energy and maximum height thing.
WHAT HAPPENS: You grab hold of a rope and let The Spinner take you for a spin. All the while you lose your tenuous grip on the wet rope, sliding further and further into the water.
HOW TO TRAIN: If you live near a large lake, find a water ski aficionado and have them pull you from behind their boat. Otherwise, visit your elderly neighbor who still has an old-style umbrella clothesline rack in their yard. Run at the clothesline at a 45 degree angle, leap into the air, catching the plastic coated ropes in your hands, see how many rotations you can achieve before the entire unit collapses under your weight.
WHAT HAPPENS: You zip down the line on the Flying Muckers until you are unceremoniously launched into the water.
HOW TO TRAIN: Find a neighbor with an aerial dog run, ideally when they are out-of-town and have the dog properly boarded elsewhere. Tie the dog run across either the same in-ground pool you used for the Swing Set, or more likely another pool where the owners aren’t vigilantly waiting for the scofflaw who left a swing set in their yard to return to the scene of the crime. Take a zip on the line. If this scenario doesn’t work you may find a tall building, take off your belt, and do a Tango & Cash.
WHAT HAPPENS: You Walk on Water. I know your mother might think you do, but the only person I’ve heard of who actually walked on water was also crucified, so… use the bridge they provide.
HOW TO TRAIN: Lay a yoga mat across yet another in-ground pool. Try to run across it. Good luck.
WHAT HAPPENS: You reach Spill Hill and run all the way to the muddy top only to have to run down again.
HOW TO TRAIN: Visit your local garden and lawn center. Run up and down the largest pile of dirt you can find. When the meniscus in your knees is visible under your skin, you have completed the needed repetitions.
WHAT HAPPENS: You leap off a high platform into the water and Muck Off.
HOW TO TRAIN: Set up construction scaffolding in front of in-ground pool. If you are running out of yards with pools to break into, move to a better neighborhood. Jump off the scaffolding into the pool. Gravity really does the work. All you can do is work on the silly face you’ll make when you jump.
WHAT HAPPENS: You drag yourself backwards through the mud, using a rope to create a Skid Mark.
HOW TO TRAIN: Glue 30 or 40 pieces of sandpaper down in your driveway. Lie on your back, grab the garden hose and pull yourself along until you pass out from the pain.
WHAT HAPPENS: After a moment or two of acrophobia followed by a bout of vertigo, you climb Mt. Muck-Imanjaro making sure to keep your footing.
HOW TO TRAIN: If you live on the coast, visit a tall ship museum and climb the rigging. Otherwise, attend a carnival and attempt to win a cheaply Made-in-Taiwan stuffed animal by climbing the Looney-Ladder. While you’re there, visit the Shoot-the-Star out game, just because.
WHAT HAPPENS: You climb to the top of the platform, feeling you are master of all you survey. Then, when prompted, you leap into the soft arms of a stunt pad and perform a Crash Landing. Make sure to bend your knees.
HOW TO TRAIN: Drag your entire mattress collection outside, make a pile along with all your cotton t-shirt, socks, and assorted sundries. Jump out the 2nd story window into said pile. If you cannot gather enough materials to jump into, light the house on fire. When the Fire Department arrives, demand they set up a net to catch you.
WHAT HAPPENS: You walk the Tight Rope, attempting not to fall into the water.
HOW TO TRAIN: Go back to the house you set up the dog aerial run. If they haven’t removed it yet, tie a second length of rope across the pool so it just touches the water, running parallel with the aerial run. Perform a hand-over-hand across the pool. If pool owner begins to chase you, perform an Indiana Jones and cut the rope ladder.
WHAT HAPPENS: You see the finish line in the distance. All of your hard work and training has culminated in this moment. All you have left is the tunnel otherwise known as the Belly Crawl.
HOW TO TRAIN: Get a cheese grater, or if you’re a manly man you may use one of your many rasps. I prefer a cabinet rasp for this job. Lie in your driveway and continuously scrub the grater or rasp across your knees and elbows until they bleed freely. Roll across your driveway until the previously grated areas are filled with debris.
WHAT HAPPENS: You Finish!
HOW TO TRAIN: Practice sucking in your gut while cutting onions, since the finish line is where they are sure to take your photo.
WHAT HAPPENS: Attend the Muckfestival. Clean clothes are optional. Clothes are not optional.
HOW TO TRAIN: Get a drink. I prefer beer. Drink it. Repeat.
Now, if you’ve read all of this you have too much time on your hands or you’re really curious about mud runs. Despite my sarcasm, they are a lot of fun. You make friendships that last as you bond over adversities mutually conquered while raising money for a great charity.
So tonight Tequila! For tomorrow we muck!
If you want to donate to Marcella’s muckerS and help us find a cure for this terrible disease, click on the link below.
If you want to learn more about MS, it’s symptoms, and what is being done to find a cure, click on the this link.