DAY 14 - Down and Dirty Minimalist Style

Me, mud and some Deschutes brew.
"Get down in that mud, NOW! You paid for this!" That's what one of the military race officials screamed at me as I faced my first mud obstacle. I paid for it. And I loved it. I loved every last muddy minute of it. Not only was the Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run (on Oct. 31, 2010) one of the largest races I've raced in, it was one of the most well organized. It was also my very first 5k in my VFFs. I was worried that the obstacles and trails would be too tough for a minimal shoe, but discovered that my shoes were the perfect match for this race.

It was a very early morning start - we had to be at the venue (Folsom Lake) by 7:30am. The traffic was a bit frustrating, but moved quicker than expected. There was also a bit of a hike from the parking lot to the race start. A good, flat warm-up, I suppose. It was kind of chilly. The sunrise on the lake was absolutely magical and made me appreciate the break in the weather that I didn't think we would get. I was expecting rain on the day of the race, but was pleasantly surprised. 

Pre-Race picture taking
I pulled on my Merrell buff, wrapped a pink and purple feather boa around my waist and tucked it in. I had kind of a feathery tutu look sorta going on. My friends and I hung around, visited the loos and checked our bags. I had to bring a backpack full of what felt like an extraordinary amount of stuff to this race - plastic bag for my wet and muddy stuff, a beach towel and a change of clothes (including underwear, bra, socks and dry shoes.) I left my ipod at home but checked my phone and keys with my backpack. Last thing I needed was to be fishing that shit out of a mucky water obstacle.

Sunrise at Folsom Lake
Me and the girls found the 10-11 minute pace sign and headed over. We waited for wave after wave of racers to start before it was our turn. The wait was worth it though as once we started running, the single-track trails felt nice and open and we rarely waited to climb an obstacle. By the way, the race announcer's job was to keep everyone entertained while we waited for our start. He had lots of witty remarks about the people and costumes that were coming through the start lines. I can't remember the exact comments he made, but he was a bit startled by our "We like it in the mud hole" pun on the back of our shirts. Of course he mentioned he couldn't repeat our choice wording in a public announcement, but he cleverly labeled the front and back of our shirts as "adult entertainment". My friend and I didn't even blush. We were quite proud to be Dirty MILFFs that day.

Team Dirty M.I.L.F.F.
I did have a slight issue with my knot monster only about a quarter of a mile in. I landed in a rut wrong and my calf yelped out at me. I had to really concentrate on my form on the uneven river rocky surface. I shortened my step, picked up my cadence and my feet a little more and tried to relax. Then the trails went all hilly on me. I managed to keep the knot monster at bay even with some serious elevation going on. I completed a low wall obstacle, a cargo net, a triple high bar obstacle, a shallow mud pit and a water run (that went up to my shoulders at one point) before heading back towards the start/finish. I felt amazingly agile in my VFFs especially on the steep and slippery downhill trails as well as most of the obstacles.
The mother of all mud pits
I scaled one more wall labeled "slippery mountain" and into the final mud pit which was centralized in the venue so that spectators could have a 360 degree view of the muckiest part of the entire race. This mud pit was the mother of all mud pits. Deep and squishy with VERY low flags. You practically had to put your face in the mud to get under the flags. And I did. Coming to the last flag I tried to get my left arm out but it was sucked tight into the unrelenting mud. That mud was strong! I managed to muscle my way out and cross over the finish line. They dog tagged me and it was official. I completed my first 5k mud run minimal style! I was one happy mama. No pain. Just pure, raw, muddy fun.

Muddy gorilla feet.


  1. What a fun run! I'm glad the weather cooperated for you. Love the pictures!
    I'm also enjoying reading about your transition to barefoot. I might be going through something similar. I say might because I really haven't decided what I'm doing yet. But I can totally relate to a lot of your experiences. Love the paint on the road, have come home with raw feeling feet, love the exhilaration it provides!

  2. Hi Jen! Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your Lips, Hips, and Asphalt. Love the name! Also, I'm curious about the Ragnar Relay you're doing. That sounds like fun. I heard about something similar out here in CA and it really sounds like a blast. I'll have to follow you on your journey through that one. Sounds like you're starting to transition to barefoot?? If so, I hope its going well for you.

  3. Krista,

    You rock girl! or should I say "MUD"!

    Sounds like you had a blast. Good job. And I see you know to hydrate after the run. Ha ha!

    You've got me thinking about an adventure race I did back a number of years ago. I'll have to post something about it so that we can compare who has the nastiest mud.

    P.S. Nice shirts!


  4. Congrats!! What a crazy and fun 5k! And it also sounds like it was a true test of form, glad to hear the knot monster has been tamed.
    Loved the boa and shirts... but it looks like the boa didnt make it!

  5. Ken - Do post pics!! Would love to see those. And yes, beer is my choice for after race hydration - hahahahaha!

    Lorena - the boa definitely didn't make it, but it was pretty while it lasted. ;)

  6. Judging by your Race Report, I chose the wrong Mud Race for my Halloween weekend. The Warrior Dash was kind of weak, the flags weren't low, and there most certainly was not a shoulder height water run. Next year, I am in this Mud Run for sure. Glad you had fun, and I do agree the Vibrams work really well for this sort of race.

  7. C-Dog - but did you get to jump over fire? I really wanted to do that! I was bummed that my husband had to smuggle my beer into my race (it was at a state park which has strict restrictions on alcohol). Other than that, it was a lot of fun. I heard the Merrell 10k had some fun obstacles, but nothing too crazy.

  8. I did get jump over fire, but it was only like 3 logs high. I suppose I did get a free beer though for finishing, so no need to smuggle alcohol into the Warrior Dash.

  9. I just discovered your blog.
    This run looks like tons of fun. I wonder how much more fun it would be barefoot.
    I think they have similar runs in Monterey or was it Santa Cruz area in the spring. I am definitely considering doing it.

  10. Hi Ewa! Thanks for stopping by! The Warrior Dash was moved down to Hollister, but I'm not sure that it will be there again next year. Its very similar to the Down and Dirty with a few more obstacles. Not sure if they would let you do it barefoot. The Merrell Down and Dirty required shoes. After doing it, I think the minimal shoe route is the best way to go anyway.

  11. Krista, I learned about the BRS earlier this week which is how I found your blog. I love your blog and get a kick out of your writing style. I'm looking forward to reading your past entries.

    I started barefoot running in April and now run primarily barefoot and VFF as necessary. I've never done a mud run but it's on my list to do. It seems that my women running friends are the most accomplished mud much for stereotypes :-)

    Henderson, NV

  12. Hi Michael - Thanks for the comment! Wow! April? You must be a veteran BFR by now! I've gotten so much support and information from Barefoot Runner's Society. They've been my BF lifeline since I don't know any other BFRs personally. People up here in my neck of the woods think I'm a bit crazy.

    You should definitely check out a mud run. Hmmmmmmmm. Not sure why women love mud so much. Maybe its the extra squishy, sensory stuff. Definitely a blast though.

    Thanks so much for checking out my blog! Please come back again...


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