This past Saturday at 10:30 in the morning, I ran out of the gate through the hoses. I clamored up the first of the triple pits and slithered down into the waist-deep muddy waters with dozens of people underneath and above me. I alternated running and walking (for hours) with crawling through big dirty pipes, and under big dirty ropes. I hoisted over huge muddy barrels and tight-roped over a pit on a rope bridge. I swung and was tossed into a six-foot deep brown and rocky pool and clung for dear life on (and ultimately slid off of) a spinning wheel of ropes over a mini river of brown muck, before wriggling like a worm, and emerging with a bloody elbow, through a rocky, muddy, sewer-like tube, to the finish line.
Bring it on, MuckFestMS 2014. For three years now, I’ve been on team Mudketeers in the 5K for multiple sclerosis. (We started with six, this year we hovered around 20.)
The three-mile run in the South Mountain Reservation (amped-up with 19 man-made obstacles with names like Skid Mark, Big Balls, Spill Hill, and Muck Off), has manifested into a special, girlfriend, in-the-trenches, tradition for me and my two dear friends, Maura and Deborah.
We check our competitive natures, and any desire for a personal best, at those Triple Pits. We brave the onslaught of obstacles, the wet rocks, the hills and dales of the woods, the Dragon Crawl (nailed it), Mt. Muck-imanjaro (have yet to attempt), in tandem. We are one – all in honor of Maura's husband, Lee.
We’re in our mid to late 50s, and no doubt, amongst the oldest of all the participants. And even though it seems to be that we are always the last of the Mudketeers to cross the finish line (we know our limits), I’m betting no one has more giggles, grunts, endorphin-rushes, hugs, high-fives, bruises, jumps up and down, and gushes of pure love than we three.
Last year, I got stuck in the mud early on and ripped a muscle in my thigh while clawing my way up a mud hill.
“Go on without me,” I yelled. “I’ll be OK!”
But not to be a stick-in-the-mud, and thanks to my friend, who gave up going “all-out” for me, and stayed by my limping side, we were able to finish together. (There’s free beer at the end.)
This year Deborah tattooed my cheek for me, and Maura cleaned my bloody elbow.
So once a year, us 50-something girls get to be warriors, to play dirty, and to challenge mind and body to the core. We think of Lee, drink to Lee, wait for each other, pull each other up, encourage each other, scope out for each other (“Stay to the side!”), give hugs, share tears, cheer each other on, and dance across the finish line. As one.
Suzanne Gay said:
I am so thankful my sister, Maura, has such wonderful friends! Thank you for your writing Lois!