Saturday, May 03, 2008

These socks were once clean

What happened to these shoes and socks? Read on...

Back in 2005 before I started this blog, I ran in a race on the North Shore called the Tofte Trek. This was a 10k trail race with lots of hills, and (as it turned out) equally as much mud due to a wet summer. Never have I been so wet or so dirty after a race.

The bar has been raised.

This Saturday morning I pointed The Silver Hornet north and headed up to the east-central Minnesota town of Milaca to run in my first trail race of the season.

I would be doing the Runnin' In The Ruff 10k, a race that utilizes a network of trails through the woods and along the banks of the Rum River.

The Rum River was flowing hard following heavy snows and rain this spring

I had never done this race before, so I was a little unsure of what I would be getting into. Shortly before the start, the Race Director told us exactly what we would be getting into; mud, water, and lots of it!

Central Minnesota had received a fair amount of rain in recent days (in addition to a good amount of late-season snow), so the course was pretty sloppy. The RD pointed out on a map certain areas of the course that were wet, if not underwater. We were advised to lace up our shoes tight so the mud doesn't suck them under. Hmmmm...ought to make for an interesting day!

The Race Director, giving us the lay of the land

The race began, and quickly we turned into the woods. Lots of little hills and switchbacks, coupled with a rocky, rooty trail, made for pretty slow going for this hombre.

Not far into the run, the trail started to get muddy. And I am talking deep mud. On a couple of occasions, I sunk down to mid-calf. It is very hard running though stuff like this!

I think it was somewhere around the 2 mile mark, I saw something ominous; a pair of muddy, disheveled running shoes sitting along side the trail. What happened to the runner?!? Oh, my, this was not going to get any easier.

There was also water, as promised. I remember approaching this creek/swamp (not sure what it was), and the water was indeed up to my knees. The first time you slog into freezing cold water, it is quite a chilly sensation as your shoes and socks instantly become saturated. But after that, there is no reason to be dainty when going through future water and mud holes!

The whole course was filled with hills, twists, and turns, and the property of this park was quite beautiful. In the last mile, we even paralleled the river to take in some rather impressive views of the rapidly flowing water. I even saw a Myrtle warbler en route, who was no doubt mocking my slow pace. :)

I trudged my way around as best I could. I wasn't going to be fast, I was soaked and absolutely caked with mud, and never have I gotten this dirty at a race. But I was still having a blast.

As I neared the finish, a number of the faster runners had gone back out on the course to cheer on us slower folks, and there were plenty of hoots and hollers at the finish line. I crossed in 56:24 (according to my watch).

Yours truly, in "ruff" shape

It was a great day filled with many wet and wild challenges, and the race was very satisfying. The volunteers were most pleasant and kind, and they put on a good show. Although, I must say I am not sure if my socks will ever be clean again... :)
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