MYRTLE BEACH — The most shocking thing about the first pit of muddy water we runners had to overcome was how early in the race it came, and how deep it was.
It had a foul, sewery smell to it, but its coolness did offer some welcome relief from the heat we endured while standing at the starting line, waiting for our turn to start the race.
There were other muddy, watery holes that participants in Saturday’s Dirty Myrtle Mud Run encountered during the three-mile obstacle course. But, as the race continued and my energy reserves drained, that rank, putrid water actually became a cool salvation from the muggy heat.
It’s not until the very last obstacle, right there at the cusp of the finish line, that the event truly lives up to its name. It’s a belly crawl through a crevice of pure mud. Moving through is a challenge, because with each motion of an arm or leg, the extremities sink that much farther down into the muck.
The mud was slimy. But even worse, it was heavy. The old tattered pair of running shoes I found in the back of the closet didn’t keep the muck from seeping though and encasing my socks in a outer covering that almost felt like cement as it began to dry and harden.
That’s not even taking into account all the mud that collected in my pockets, which weighed my shorts down to the point I briefly became concerned about a wardrobe malfunction.
This, and so much more, was what made up the 2012 fall edition of the Dirty Myrtle Mud Run, held in the Waterbridge subdivision off Carolina Forest Boulevard.
Organizer Mike Shank said Friday he had 420 runners already registered for the race, 110 more than the 310 at the same time in 2011.
This was the second year the fall mud run has invaded Myrtle Beach. Its inaugural race last May attracted 600 participants, and that first muddy slog proved so successful that the fall edition followed.
Shank said this year’s spring mud run saw more than 800 people come out. He didn’t expect Saturday’s fall meet to attract as many participants, but he said more college students and children were signing up, joining those paying up to $50 each for the privilege of struggling through the mire.
Yes, the children aren’t forgotten in the mud run. There’s a special one-mile obstacle course just for them.
Shank said the obstacle course for the fall meet didn’t change from the spring event. And those obstacles could be challenging.
It might have seemed easy to simply walk up the steep dirt hill that runners encountered around the last half-mile or so. After all, by that point many had taken to walking the course in between tackling the obstacles. But in reality, the easier option was just to dig in those heels and sprint up it.
Volunteers along the race route shouted words of encouragement to the runners as they came ever-closer to that finish line. And teammates were just as encouraging to not only their own, but also others they encountered along the way.
In the end, all that grubby work adds up to a great sense of accomplishment when every member of a team makes his or her way across the finish line … together. In this participant’s case, our team stopped for a brief moment for a quick, muddy hug before heading over to the high-powered sprinkler systems that racers flock to at the end, like moths to a flame.
Modesty was out the window as we sought only one objective: rinse as much of the mud, sand and grass from our bodies as humanly possible.
Still, it was impossible to get it all. As I type this, I’m staring at the dried mud I brought back from the course, still caked underneath my fingernails.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.