Mud, Sweat & Beers - Wagga Wagga
I’d had this event in my calendar as Mud, Sweat & Bears, I rather liked the idea of bears on the course… However turns out it was “Beers” not “Bears” and I was a little disappointed. This was the first obstacle race that I’d traveled and stayed overnight for. Mum and I drove out to Wagga Wagga on the Friday and stayed at a motel in town. The event itself was on a property just outside of town, and we headed out there early the next morning.
The event was well laid out with parking close to the registration and a gathering of little tents near the start and finish line. There was a good selection of about half a dozen obstacles visible from the spectator section.
I joined the other League racers at the OCRL tent and set out my supplies bag with them and also with mum near the finish line. Leah & Lachlan, two other Bounce team members were getting ready to race. We were all entered into the Toughest Nut wave, which required a minimum of 4 laps completed to be classed as a Mud, Sweat & Beers Toughest Nut. The OCRL race version was to see who could race the most laps in a set amount of time. Regardless, I had plans to do the full 4 laps so I could become a Toughest Nut.
The 25 Toughest Nut competitors all met at the start line and got ready to run, the event MC got everyone pumped and then we were off. We ran up the hill and the first obstacle was climbing up a wooden ladder against a large stump, than jumping off the other side. A run down the hill and into the mud for crawling under the first lot of barbed wire. Then back up the hill and over the first small wall. Some more running and hitting a very steep uphill with a well positioned drink stop at the top, I ran/walked the hill as I didn’t want to burn myself out too fast. Over the wall at the top and down the back of the hill. I was loving the running aspect, it was easy trail running. We hit the first dam and swam across it, it was deep, but wasn’t too far across, however it was cold. The imported surf lifesaver watched us all from the bank ready for action. Out of the dam and up to the first ramp, Leah was just in front of me at this stage and I followed her up the large climbing ramp, it had a few options to climb it; the steep ramp only, the widely spaced steps, and the easy steps. Throughout the race I ended up using a combination of all the difficulties as the course got busier.
We dropped off the back of the ramp onto two sets of hay bales, and then ran up a slight slope to another wall, up and over. Then over a hill and down the other side to a pile of tires in a gully that we scrambled over, this led onto the main valley of the course with big long zig zags with obstacles at the end of long running legs, maybe a kilometre between each obstacle. Leah and I were still neck and neck as we hit the first long run out to another smaller ramp at the end, the same sort of steps, but this time with ropes as well. Up and over the ramp without any difficulty, then running back a kilometre for a small jump over some little hay bales (the easiest obstacle on the course), back out again for another kilometre run to the hardest obstacle on the course, the mud pits. There were about six of them and they just got harder and harder throughout the day, I’d jump down into a pit, then climb up and out, then jump into the next pit, and climb up and out. It’s really hard to climb up and out of a muddy pit.
Leaving the mud pits, we were off and running again, I’d gained a little distance on Leah and hit a poorly marked part of the course where it essentially split into three and I had no idea where to go, One of the guys running back pointed out which way I should go and I took off, turns out it was the wrong way and I ended up doing the next part of the course in reverse, but really it wasn’t a big deal, I still swam across the dam and ran back along what I thought was the correct path, the organisers realising what was happening were busy fixing the confusing part, marking it off and spray painting arrows, they pointed out where I should be and I was back on the correct part of the course.
Up and over a series of larger hay bales, then another barbed wire crawl, not as muddy as the first one. A run along to a drink stop, followed by crawling under some nets and into a large mud pit, a run up the hill and onto the slip & slide. I sat down on the slide and didn’t move, so I got up and ran and dived, this worked much better and I started sliding, pushing along with my hands to pick up more speed, however, I didn’t make it anywhere near the water and came to a plastic chafing halt about two thirds of the way down. I ran the rest of the way down the Slip & Slide and took the exit out of the dam back up the hill. The Slip & Slide was a great idea, they just needed more water on it. The poor boys at the top were operating it with garden hoses, they needed to bring the large RFS truck over and hose that slip & slide down.
Some uphill running and over a cargo net strung between two trees, some more running and then onto a drink stop at the top of a hill overlooking the finish line and the next obstacle, the tunnel crawl. This was a serious tunnel crawl, it was a tight squeeze even for me. It was 4 tunnels built with plywood sheets covered in hay sitting on top of hay bales separating each tunnel. It was so low that I had no hope of getting to my knees and so tight that my shoulders rubbed the sides. I have no idea how some of the bigger people got through it, but I did see some racers bailing on the tunnels later in the day.
Out of the tunnel and dreading the next lap of crawling through them with all the other racers on the course, I raced down the hill and hit the next barbed wire crawl. This one was a lot muddier and forced me to crawl low. Half way through the barbed wire crawl you had to climb up and over some wooden boxes, then back under the wire for the next part of the crawl.
I’d gained a bit of distance on Leah by this stage, but I knew she wasn’t too far behind me. I ran for the “Sheep Dip” an ice filled container. I was now within the spectator viewing area and mum was cheering me on, plus the other spectators (the field was pretty thinned out by now, so I was really their only competitor to cheer for). Out of the Sheep Dip and running back towards the barbed wire crawl, and the large shipping container that sat between it and the dam. I jumped up on the hay bales and the friendly lifesaver gave me a lift onto the shipping container (it was way too high). Down the other side of the hay bale and into the dam to swim across.
I’m not good at swimming and mum yelling out encouraging words like “stop mucking around” and “get out of the dam” wasn’t really making me swim any faster. Out of the dam and a quick climb over the wall, the wall was split into two walls, a 3m one for the guys and a 2m one for the girls. I grabbed a quick drink before heading out for lap 2.
Lap 2 was pretty much the same thing, I was running fine, not really feeling tired and the running had also helped me gain a bit of distance on Leah. This time I started to hit some other racers on the course, but thanks to all the running it spread the field out well and there weren’t many bottlenecks. Plus a couple of nice ladies let me go over the net first.
At the end of lap 2 I’d gained a lot of distance on Leah who was now battling it out for 2nd with Alex (I found this out later). A quick drink stop and onto lap 3. By now it had gotten later in the day so I covered my face in mud, I figured it would work like sunscreen. (I didn’t get burnt, so I guess it did). The mud pits by now had become like cake batter, they were so thick that it took a huge amount of effort to get my legs out of the pits, I started to feel the first pangs of cramps in my thighs and calves, but that wasn’t going to stop me.
Coming into the end of the last barbed wire crawl of my third lap my right calf completely cramped up as I attempted to jump up onto the box halfway through. I collapsed back in the mud in a lot of pain and had to stretch it out, fortunately the same box came in handy to stretch on for a couple of minutes. Feeling manageable, I got over the box and completed the crawl. The ice filled Sheep Dip felt wonderful on my leg when I jumped in.
Reaching the finish line for the third time I stopped for a couple of minutes to stretch and refuel a bit before I set off on my fourth and final lap. By now, my right calf was threatening to cramp whenever I used it to push out of the mud, my knees were sliced and diced by all the crawling, and my arms were cramping from the climbing. But it didn’t matter I just had to complete the fourth lap, it was only another 10km’s.. That’s not even a morning run.
I set off and tried to stay off my knees for the first barbed wire crawl. Fortunately being small and all the other people digging trenches with their bodies made it a lot easier to spider under it. Most of the racers on the course now were doing the 5km version, so I lost them at the top of the hill when they turned off and I went over the wall. Down the hill and into the dam, I knew I wasn’t looking too good because the lifesaver who’d been busy sun baking for the past few hours was stood up and started watching me closely as I struggled across the dam.
The running fortunately was still easy for me and I used that as recovery from the obstacles. Soon I was back at the mud pits, which had not gotten any easier. I managed to slowly get through them with my legs threatening to completely cramp up the whole time. Out of the mud and some more running. By now fortunately the straw bale tunnels had gotten easier with all the people pushing and shoving the bales, still it smashed my knees to do it.
The final barbed wire crawl, Sheep Dip, shipping container, dam swim and wall climb. I was a bit concerned I would not be able to get over the wall, turns out my arms could handle it. Then across the finish line and I became an official Mud, Sweat & Beers Toughest Nut. And the only female to complete the full 4 laps. So I was pretty stoked. Lachlan took out the male race with an impressive finish in 4 hours.
Overall Mud, Sweat & Beers was a great obstacle course and I can’t wait to do my next Endurance race, Spartan UltraBeast in November.