7 kms of earth-crawling through sludge and grime, jumping into slush trenches and scaling slippery walls.
When I attended the first edition of The Mud Rush (TMR) in 2012, held in a scenic location in Kolad, nobody told me that it would get addictive. The thrilling obstacle race that boasts over 30 big and small hurdles through mud, slush and sludge was an experience like no other. The medal and free beer at the end of the race made the arduous run worth the bruises. Post that, the foot massage and sundowner! It was only natural that I returned the next year. And the next.
The Mud Rush 2015
Living in Bombay makes you a grateful for even a tiny green patch of land. So a lush, expansive, green meadow with a lake and grazing cows was quite an overwhelming sight when I reached Silvassa (the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, a small union territory nestled between the border of Maharashtra and Gujarat).
The flag-off point.
This year’s TMR was a 7 km-circuit race along the breathtaking Dudhani Lake. It started with a short warm-up/Zumba session at the flag-off point. Like at every mass exercise, I love to see how awkwardly people stretch and bend their limbs. Especially the overzealous under-exercised ones. The ones you feel won’t survive even two hurdles.
An easy slush bog obstacle.
Soon after crossing the shallow part of the lake came Obstacle number one: A keechad stretch with overhanging wires and electrical sparks which participants could avoid only by crawling on all fours. A tough start. The peeps at TMR had upped their game for sure. The next couple of hurdles were not so bad, till I encountered a mammoth one: The Wall Of Shame. A steep skateboard ramp kind of incline that you had to run on to catch a suspended rope, with which you propped your body up. Yours truly did it in one go!
When you are running a race that you are free to finish at your own leisure, it’s fun to observe your fellow participants. This time, because the location was so close to Gujarat, the locals were present in full strength. Complete with big bottomed baa and bahus in tights (full length, of course) and customised T-shirts. “Mudrenaline Monks”, “Mud, Sweat And Beer”, “Mud Rushers”.
The conversation that gave me company at every hurdle went something like this:
‘Hetal, ainya aavne…’
‘Sejal, tame kya che?’
‘Arrey Phoram, mane dukha che..’
‘Bhavin…bhago tej bhago’
‘Mane nathi avadtu, Madat karo.’
Helping hands of friends, family and strangers.
A few slushy obstacles later came the mother of all obstacles - a mountain-like crest-and-trough structure that you had to climb through. Just when I was done with one of the tricky mountains and sat atop it to move to the other, the rain gods announced their surprise show. The now-slippery walls were impossible to scale, let alone give a grip to your toes. A long 10-minute trying-slipping-falling-trying again later, I was through it. Phew! Aptly named Mother-In-Law, this one!
Since the race was along a humongous grassland, most parts of the dirt trails were also lined by cow dung. Was it also a mere co-incidence that there were grazing cows stationed in close vicinity of every hurdle? Good job, organisers.
Around 2 kms down the race we encountered the first trench-y hurdles. The Black Hole required one to get inside a narrow closed sludge tunnel and emerge from the other side slathered with a most sticky muck. In another one, you had to float in a long slush canal and wade through by pulling your body with the help of an overhead wire mesh.
The Wall Of Shame caused many to hang their heads in shame.
Considering the crowd, it was no wonder that the organisers decided to name one of the most enjoyable hurdles Keechad Ni Khichdi. KNK comprised three wells of slush that you had to jump in to one by one. With the Holi-like ambience that such a setting is sure to generate, it was no wonder that KNK has been a constant since 2012. It’s the obstacle that people are most happy to be stuck at. And mostly, the marshalls have to intervene and urge people to move ahead.
The real test of our endurance came with two hurdles that practically no one could tackle.
This requires rock-solid biceps!
As we neared the race, the hurdles got slightly easier on the body. And just before the last one – a monkey crawl and a pole swirl - we were treated to a boat ride through the lake.
With the finish line only a few meters ahead and sprinkler-shower in sight, I ran with all my might. Slightly cleaned up, I headed to the podium to receive my medal and beer. And there with that shiny thing, I hit my Mud Rush hat-trick!
Thank you mum and dad!
A quick change of clothes and I headed straight to the place everybody rushed to post a grueling run: the food court. I stuffed my face with what seemed like a kilo of chicken biryani, after which, I somnambulated to the massage kiosk (with the last bit of energy left). A foot, head and back session later, I was ready for the EDM party where hipsters flaunted not tattoos but bruises, scratches and cuts. And me, my medal.
Words: Nirmika Singh
All images: The Mud Rush