We’re too old for a mud run

We’re too old for a mud run, I argued.

We went anyway.

I looked around. We were the oldest in the group. I could only imagine what the teenagers thought as we showed up for our assignment. This was my daughter’s fault. She always volunteers us.

We were in a kids’ world.

“I’m not going to let you grow old,” Allison, my daughter, said as she handed me a bright green shirt. “You can do it.”

She gave my Sweet Al and 50 other “staff” people shirts. This shirt had been splatted with brown paint. It looked like mud on the shirts, as if we had already run the course.

We weren’t fooling anyone.

We took our lawn chairs and umbrellas just in case we got tired of standing. I’m all about comfort, even at a mud run.

I was an official member of the Pirate Plunge staff. I had entered another world, which I had only known about on television. I had seen the American Ninja Warriors on television. They get beat up, climb through hard obstacles and drop into a tank of water in defeat. A few make it all the way to the “Red Button” on to “Mount Midoriyama.”

I squirmed as I watched the show with the rest of the family, thinking, “Who would put themselves through that?”

That’s crazy.

I surmised the situation. Who was standing in front of me? None other than Ninja Warrior Brian Arnold from the television show, who had completed an impossible course and had gone the furthest in the race.

Of course, I had to get a picture hugging a Ninja Warrior. In case anyone questioned me about the mud run, I’d post it on Facebook.

I said to my friend who was visiting with us from Minnesota, “I want to call them Ninja Turtles.”

She said, “You’re showing your age. If anything, we are the Ninja Turtles, they are the Ninja Warriors.”

I couldn’t believe over 200 hardy young people would pay to run through a 13-obstacle course. This course went through mud holes, tires and ropes, and participants ran all the way up Pirate Hill, where they faced a giant slide. Soapy water was distributed from a cement truck to make it slippery. The first two to pass the finish line were David McCree and Tate Drane.

Later in the afternoon, they all ran it again. This time David McCree and Tate Drane changed places for first and second places and a first prize was handed to David. They outran the real Ninja Warrior, Brian Arnold. Good job, boys.

Many of the runners wore costumes. I recognized Coach Mike. He was wearing Denise’s bodice over his hairy chest. Now that was a sight to see.

Then there were those who struggled to get over the tire obstacles. I looked up to see two black bottoms with attached tutus hanging upside down on the top railing. They pushed and pulled to get over. I pointed my camera and got a shot. This was one shot I wouldn’t forget. When they made it over to the other side, I recognized them as two of my friends, Melanie and Denise.

Several construction companies from Pagosa came with their water trucks and earth movers to turn Pirate Hill into a professional 3-mile course.

The volunteers for the Booster Club thought of everything. They had worked a whole year planning for this event. They had key people who knew how to put on a big event like this.

There were over 100 volunteers, but one person stood out to me — Mike Alley from La Plata Electric Association. Apparently, he had been there day in and day out, helping wherever he could.

Almost everything was donated. People brought company vehicles from their businesses. If rented, they would have cost the club literally tens of thousands of dollars. The water trucks kept the paths and mud holes filled with water. The excavation company donated several trucks, including a cement truck.

My Sweet Al and I, and our guests, were placed at the water station. Everyone warned us that we needed to get out of the way of the runners. They would run past, grab a little cup of water, throw down the cup and keep running.

I told my Sweet Al, stay out of the runners’ way. Don’t try to strike up a conversation with them. They are not in the frame of mind to talk. They are focused on running the race. Don’t become part of their obstacle course; just hand them a cup of water.

There were over 400 cups of water handed out to hot, muddy and sweaty runners who ran up the hill and down the hill in the July sun and heat. They were thankful to have a cold cup of water. They didn’t care how old we were.

I know they slept well that night. For us, even the umbrellas and lawn chairs couldn’t help. We had to go home and take a nap.

This event was a win-win for the community, the school and the Booster Club. My daughter and son-in-law are already talking about next year. We’ll probably be there if my daughter has anything to do with it.

Final brushstroke: People care about things in this town. Everyone gave what they had: walkie-talkies, water tanks, an American flag and someone had soap to donate. They pulled together to make a small town like Pagosa do something big. Collectively, they put on a professional and great event. Remember to give thanks to all those who ran the race and the people of Pagosa who made it happen. The funds will go to the Pagosa Springs High School Athletic Program.

Artist’s quote 

“The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.”

— Arthur C. Clarke


This story was posted on July 31, 2014.