GateHouse — The best part of finishing the vigorous and extremely pinheaded activity known as a Mud Run is not the getting filthy on purpose, the feeling of accomplishment or even the extremely satisfying kick of getting to run a grown-up obstacle course: It is discovering the scope and volume of material that can be stored, and subsequently removed, from the human ear.
Not everyone is going to want to read the following paragraph, such as my squeamish cousin, who has been known to experience waves of nausea at the mention of blood drives, or my even more squeamish brother, who has a fear of bodily humors of such significance that I used to literally chase him around the room with one of my son’s freshly soiled diapers: “Ewwww look Dave touch it touch it touch it,” I would taunt like an incredible jerk, while highly enjoying the squealing noises he would create as he huddled, shivering and alone, behind the papasan chair. (This has, incidentally, been Dave’s greatest concern in the health-care debate: Will injuries sustained by fainting when confronted with poop be covered?)
But here are a few things I learned in the Post-Mud Run Ear Cleanout And Block Party 2010:
- The human head is capable of way more storage than you might suspect.
- If you have, hypothetically, larger-than-average ears, one of which is tilted at an angle that’s been noticeable since your kindergarten pictures, they will serve as a direct funnel for airborne dust particles.
- While OK in most cases, there are instances in which the Q-Tip is a pathetically insufficient cleaning apparatus; this job in particular felt a little like what it would be like to use them to wash your boat.
Yet this is part of the gloppy aftermath of the Mud Run, which athletes, runners and people who have things wrong with them engage in, on purpose, when they feel that races are more fun when you might also contract dysentery.
Mud Runs are basically like regular races, except you do them in uncomfortable boots, and instead of running, you occasionally stop to drop to your hands and knees and blumble through adhesive muck and chin-deep water the color and consistency of the chocolate milk that you find under the carseat. You also occasionally climb over walls. You also occasionally swim through culverts, with about three feet of clearance between the top of the pipe and the water level inside it, because you were not freaked out enough by the rat scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” enough and thought, hey, is there some way I could make that more traumatic on a personal level? You also enjoy running around in footwear that feels like its full of applesauce. You also enjoy writing columns the next day watching clumps of dirt fall out from under your fingernails onto the keyboard, which is certainly not going to make the IT guys at work like you any more.
Oh, you also do this as part of a team and in the company of about 3,000 other loons, all of whom are in much better shape than you, many of whom are wearing expressions of primal, jungle-warfare ferocity and some of whom appear perfectly capable of throwing couches at each other. (Note that this is also the case for some of the dudes.)
Because the Mud Run, at least the one we were in, has a vague military theme, so most of the competitors — even the ones without military connections — play the part, dressing in camouflage pants, black shirts, tank tops, etc. By contrast, most of my team, which consisted of myself and four girls, donned shirts the approximate color of freshly blooming azaleas. Happily, I didn’t have to participate in the pink theme; thankfully I was instead outfitted in a shirt of grape-soda purple, which, it was clear, struck terror into the souls of the surrounding army guys, judging by the way they stared at me, trying to mask their obvious nervous intimidation behind a wall of defensive snort-laughing.
Related, sort of
Anyway, that said, Jeff the Lanky Grape Popsicle and His Pink Gang (not our real name) ended up doing not bad for ourselves at all, thanks. You don’t really keep score at such things, but by my unofficial count there were three walls to climb, 12 hills, one Pitfall rope swing, three times underwater, two beers, 3 Motrin and just one mouthful of potential dysentery in the culvert, which will, incidentally, be the name of my first collection of beat poetry.
But I highly recommend this activity to anyone and everyone, particularly those looking for a sneaky reason to revisit playground nostalgia, as well as enthusiasts of that feeling you get when you feel like there’s something plugged in your ear and you can’t stop thinking that it’s one of those burrowing body worms you saw on the National Geographic special, while you were huddling behind the papasan chair.