Archived Story

What was I thinking?

Published 12:18pm Friday, April 26, 2013

By Jess Page, Guest Columnist

Over the years my son and I have done a lot of things together. Although our daughter is a daddy’s girl, I haven’t done quite as much with her as I would have liked. So with a lapse in judgment, I decided it was time for me and our daughter to have an adventure. I looked up this new craze called mudding. I settled on something called the Obstacle Course and Mud Run.

Now, I realize I’m 67 years old. I’m 5 feet, 6 inches tall, but I’m in pretty good physical shape, and I figure it wouldn’t take but about a month to be in top form. After all, I am a former Army Airborne, Jumpmaster, jungle expert, cowboy, etc. I mean, how hard can it be – right?

I glanced over the description and, being a college graduate and a real man, I was not at all interested – I just want to do it. But words like “unforgiving property,” “diabolical obstacles,” “U.S. Army Ranger approved,” “mud, rocks, hills” and “testing the most elite of athletes” should have been the first clue that something wasn’t right.

The second clue was when I got on the shuttle bus and no one was older than 40. They were all runners, and some were professional mudders. Later I realized I was the oldest among the 400 participants. But hey, no problem – I am now one of the “athletic elite.”

The last clue should have been when I registered. The advertisement was that you receive a T-shirt “after” you finish the course. They took one look at me and gave me a T-shirt before the start.

Here’s your sign.

I was ready to go. I have my jeans, cut-off shirt and an American flag do-rag on my head. I was the epitome of the ultimate Mudder Warrior.

I won’t try to comment on the total Mud Run experience but only what has become ingrained in my memory for the rest of my life.

The first obstacle was the log climb. No sweat! I jog right up to it and start to climb.

I lifted my leg up twice and couldn’t reach the next log. I surmised that this had to have been built by tall people who had a bias against short people.

I threw myself up, and it knocked the wind out of me. I threw my leg over and wallowed up like a little boar hog. I finally got over the top and slid far enough down to touch the next log and get down.

Our daughter started laughing until she realized she’s as short as I am.

I’m over the first obstacle and on to the next. By now our group has disappeared. I jog ten steps and … charley horse … Chaaarley Hooorse in my left calf.

Now I have to limp to the next obstacle, which is the water pit. This had to be designed by the Viet-cong, who used it as a torture device. It had four cattle gates laid over it, and you had to lie on your back and use the gate like monkey bars to pull yourself through. The closer you get to the end, the closer the gate gets to your face, until your head is underwater.

My leg doesn’t bother me because the water is so cold I’m numb from the neck down.

Now I’m on my back with the gate a foot from my face, and the water is getting higher. About the third gate, I look up at the staff member and give him the stare that says, “If you don’t lift up the last gate, I will come up there and rip your throat out.”

He lifts the gate, and I limp out.

I’ve only gone 0.2 miles and have three miles to go.

I think I’m in trouble.

I hit the water slide into the mud pit. I get out and … charley horse in my right calf. Now I’m crippled in both calves.

After a number of other obstacles, about five people begin to clap and cheer as I cross the finish line. I pull myself up with what little dignity I have left and begin the Ultimate Warrior strut. I look around, and it dawns on me that they’re cheering because everyone has packed up, and they just want to go home. But I finished the race! I am the man.

Reflecting on what I had accomplished, I have come to the following conclusions. Don’t follow rules: make them up as go along. Learn to fall over obstacles. If you climb up, fall down – it’s easier. And last, don’t ever, ever do something this crazy and idiotic again.

Page is pastor of Good News Baptist Church is Jacksons Gap.