This Sunday, I finally get to participate in an event I first heard about a decade ago in Washington, D.C.: Muddy Buddy. It’s an obstacle-course run and bike race in which you and a partner alternate riding a bike and running about a mile at a time, stopping in between to complete some odd obstacle like you first saw in “Police Academy.” The race culminates in both partners crawling through a mud pit and crossing the finish line together. What could be more fun?
This weekend’s race is in Portland, but if you miss it here, you can catch it one of 16 different cities hosting Muddy Buddy races this year, including Los Angeles, Calif. Nov. 9. Bob Babbitt of Competitor Group — the organizers of Muddy Buddy and a multitude of other adventure-type races — started Muddy Buddy 12 years ago after having significant challenges during a “Ride and Tie” race in Southern California. A Ride and Tie race involves alternating between running and riding a horse. But if you have problems with your horse, you’re out of luck — as Babbitt did. So he came up with an alternate type of event called the “Ride and Run” series, of which Muddy Buddy is one.
Over the past 12 years, Muddy Buddy has grown to include thousands of participants nationwide, from ages 4 to 104,. Last year, Columbia Sportswear partnered with Competitor Group to sponsor the race. Muddy Buddy is all about getting people of all ages into the outdoors to have fun, says Cadence Sanman, a Columbia Sportswear representative. Though there are other obstacle-course-type races out there (such as the popular Warrior Dash), Muddy Buddy was the first of its kind. “It opened the doors to this genre of sport,” she says.
The Muddy Buddy race itself is between six and seven miles long; each teammate runs about three miles and bikes about three miles. Though the race course changes a little, depending on the local terrain, the race includes the same obstacles in every city — but the obstacles can change each year. Obstacles vary from a high wall that you have to climb, to a horizontal grouping of logs you have to maneuver, to a giant maze you have to find your way out of (which I actually fear the most). There is also a Mini Muddy Buddy race at the same venues for kids ages 4 through 13. Fourteen-year-olds through senior citizens participate in the main event, which is followed by a big party with prizes.
The race is really about the whole family having fun. Everyone gets a participation medal and there’s a costume contest — oh yes, you better believe people come in costume, Sanman says. In fact, she adds, Babbitt still goes to almost all of the races dressed in a frog suit — and yes, he jumps in the mud pit at the end. (Babbitt’s wife now sends him fully costumed through a car wash to clean the frog suit, as she grew tired of the mess it made in the house, Sanman says.)
Although my husband and I won’t be going in costume, we are looking forward to the race immensely (though perhaps not that maze…). Stay tuned next week to find out how it turned out.
Here’s a list of some upcoming Muddy Buddy races in other cities: San Jose on Oct. 9th, Dallas, Texas on Oct. 16; and Miami, Fla., on Nov. 20. The 2012 schedule will be released later this fall, but expect it to start in early April and to make its way around the country.