Three peeps from work went with me to the Zombie Escape, a 5K race with a bunch of large obstacles. By bunch, I'm thinking something like 15. I didn't really count. Counting would get in the way of staying alive.
We all checked in, gave up our signed death waivers, and went to stand in line at the porta-potties. The race needed about twice as many johns as they had even for the small crowd present. As this race grows, they'll need to do something about the facilities. That, or provide a trench latrine, at least for the boys. Or more trees.
The line to start the race was long. Very long. The reason for this was the trek through the darkened school bus. Entering the bus took its toll on me, primarily in the less than fond memories of grade school and high school that I apparently haven't given up yet. Odd how those memories can linger and find resurrection at the most inopportune moments. Yeah, there's a reason I haven't attended a class reunion, and it's not in the absence of invitations.
Although the bus made the line long, it did serve to stagger the starting groups. This was good because the first obstacle was hardly a quarter-mile away, and that short distance would not have spread out the runners in the individual waves.
I took the Savior's name in vain on the first obstacle. It started with a rope climb up a wooden incline. Now, that seems harmless enough...until the guy with the fire hose hits your square in the face...and holds it there. He became the first entry on the official Team Castle Hate List. The only way to get away from the blast of the fire hose was to slide butt first down the incline into the pit of very muddy water below. The slide was not controllable. Think rolly-polly pell-mell tumble-bumble. With a snoot full of red clay.
The course then looped out and back to bring us right back to the hill and the fire hose and the pit of water. Just all in reverse. Within five minutes of starting the race, we were well on our way to an Oxi-Clean commercial.
Then there were zombies. All in a pack. The first of three, perhaps four, packs. I lost count. One zombie was specially adept at being evil. He was a hardly-teen boy who would let you pass, and then run you down while you weren't looking. He'd also drop the flag, offer you the chance to get it back, and then swoop in to grab it plus another one from your belt. (Each runner had three flags similar to those in flag football. The zombies grabbed the flags. If you lost all your flags, you were infected. After each pack of zombies, there was a medic who would give you back a flag if you did a million burpees or pushups. Yes, I'm sore now.)
The course wandered its way through the woods. This made most things shady and somewhat cooler than you would otherwise expect. It also made the mud smellier. Much smellier. I had flash backs to irrigating the field using Uncle Tink's pond that caught runoff, the pond that nothing lived in except tadpoles. And snakes. I always looked forward to that pond drying up so I wouldn't have to smell that soured mud during the 100-degree heat of summer. And now I'm crawling though the same mud, under barbed wire, and calling it fun.
We blasted through that mud like Hans Solo leaving Mos Isley.
Onward and upward. We ran. We trotted. We walked. We skipped. We had a blast. We even sang “If you're squishy and you know it, clap your hands.” The other peeps around us didn't get that one. We held hands and skipped through the finish line. It was important that we finished together.
We did much better this time than in our previous run, mostly because we were better prepared. That probably means we're a little healthier also. We agreed that we'd do it again next year, and as we waited at the finish line, I drank my first beer, one little cup, since March. LoneRider. It was good, and it'll have to hold me until the next tiny beer at the Tough Mudder in October. Yes, we're about ready, or at least as ready as we're going to be.