My brother paid nearly $200 for two entrance fees to the Mid Atlantic Savage Race. I drove four hours from my home in Harrisonburg, Virginia, to a game farm way far across the Chesapeake Bay. He drive three a half hours up from Virginia Beach. We had to sign waivers absolving the race from responsibility for anything–from the possible toxicity of the muddy pond water we would inadvertently drink to the potentially lethal nature of some of the obstacles. I drank $15 worth of sports drinks before and after the race, paid for two tanks of gas, and got a sunburn. In exchange, we got t-shirts, a free Coors Light, and a shitty medal.
Was it worth it?
I’m cringing as I say it, but yes.
For the first time since I don’t remember when, I threw myself into playing, running, climbing, getting wet and dirty, and having a good time–and all while sober. It’s a little sad, really, that we had to pay $90 a ticket (and that was the early registration price) for someone to give us permission to jump in puddles, slide on our asses down mudslides, wade through pond scum, scale walls, jump 30 feet into a pool of dirty water, and slide down a water slide that would have launched a small child into orbit. That kind of behavior would be frowned upon if we hadn’t paid money to participate in an organized event.
The price tag was my biggest hang up: I just imagined the race organizers sitting at home, surrounded by stacks of $20-bills and legal agreements. But by the time I finished the race, I wasn’t really worried about having been taken advantage of as much as how sad it was that so many of us were so happy to pay money to be allowed to play in the mud.
At the end, I was sunburned, bruised, covered in a thick layer of sticky, sticky mud, exhausted, and a little dehydrated. I’d inhaled mud and dirt, fallen on my ass, fallen on my knees, and crashed boobs-first into walls I couldn’t climb. But I felt so alive, so strong, and so human using my God-given body to run, climb, jump, slide, and swim.
What made it even better was running along my baby brother. I didn’t want to ruin the moment with idle sentimentalities, but I had flashbacks of giving him piggyback rides when I was twelve years old and he was three, when I was the one who had to watch out for him. Twenty years later, he’s a 6’3″ sailor, an IT nerd with bulging biceps, expensive tastes, and a badass girlfriend. Where does the time go? He hoisted me over walls, pulled me up hills, encouraged me to keep up the pace, and, on the count of three, slid down the water slide of death with me.
It was a huge indulgence in terms of time, money, and effort, but I’ve paid as much for a mud spa treatment before. After the spa, though, you only feel like a pretty princess, and this left me feeling like a badass. Maybe next year I’ll get a Groupon or something and get over my scruples.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever done an obstacle course race/mud run, or if you want to!