When I signed up for the Mud and Muck Run, I figured I’d jog my three miles and then trot across a semi-muddy finish line while some lawn sprinklers spat arcs of water over my head. I figured I’d end up relatively clean, perhaps splattered with mud from the knees down.
I did not expect to emerge from a literal three-foot-deep mud pit looking like a fucking swamp monster, and I really did not expect to stand in the sun waiting in line to hose off while the muck on my body slowly hardened to a crust, all the while digging handfuls of wet, shimmering glop out of my cleavage.
But because I spent a significant portion of my childhood ruining pairs of white dress shoes while digging mud pits with my brother and cousins in our grandmother’s back yard (one time we dug a pit nearly a foot deep and even caught some toads to put in it before our parents got wise and shut us down), I wasn’t going to turn down a socially acceptable opportunity to get good and dirty. I mean, where else can you glormp down a sidewalk covered from the neck down in stank-ass sludge and have people greet you with a nod and a smile?
The race itself took place along a pleasant, meandering and scenic course in a park on the Unity Village Campus in Lee's Summit. With steep hills and rocky pathways, parts of the trail were difficult and even strenuous, but to me that meant one thing: I was earning my frolic through the filth, as well as the vegetarian chili I was going to eat afterward (at least I would have if they hadn’t shut down the food operation while I was still in line for one of ONLY THREE hoses, ridiculous considering the hundreds of attendees).
As we neared the three-mile marker, screams that fell somewhere on the spectrum from delighted to horrified signaled the presence of the mud pit around the next turn. And as far as mud pits go, this one was totally the bully who makes fun of your sweater and gives you a swirly before stealing your pencil case and your lunch money: I was shocked to see a grinning little girl doggie-paddling in circles around the pit's edge. Holy shit, I thought, this muck is deep enough to swim in.
“Are you guys sure you wanna do this?” my friend J. asked, clearly second-guessing her commitment to completely ruining a pair of shoes.
“We pretty much have to,” I said.
We quickly discovered that standing up in the pit meant sinking ala my worst childhood quicksand nightmare, so the only way across was to swim. Some people backstroked; I scooted along on my stomach and grabbed at god-knows-what to propel myself forward –- “Was that a shoe?” I heard someone yell as I grabbed at something that wriggled as though alive.
We emerged glimmering in the midday sun, telling ourselves it was like getting a spa treatment… right?