Mud Guts & Glory fools me EVERY SINGLE TIME. Five times total I have toed the starting line with a light heart and high spirits. Five times total I have had moments of regret for doing so and wondered if the hills and obstacles would ever end. MGG lures me in with its family atmosphere, its encouraging volunteers, its fantastic customer service, and its inspiring cause…..and then without warning, it sends my heart racing, my muscles straining, and my legs aching. Race MC, Micah Steele, subtly alluded to this seconds before the starting pistol fired when he shouted “Be sure to enjoy the glorious beauty of God’s nature in the midst of your agony”. That’s just it. God’s glorious nature is abundant in those hills and in those people who make MGG happen. Beautiful scenery, beautiful trails, beautiful people. However, God does not prevent the personal agony of calf cramps halfway across the weaver obstacle. Every. Single. Time.
This year’s race offered a 5K option and a 10K option. The 5K option gave many who were unsure of themselves just enough taste of the good stuff without scaring them away forever. The additional mile or so over last year’s race, combined with a few of the obstacles from last year’s OCR World Championships, made pacing and nutrition critical for a good performance. Forget half of your pre-race rituals and leave all your race nutrition back in the room like me and it will take a toll around mile 5. While most people leave King’s Domain with a burning memory of the hills, this course is loaded with obstacles, many of which use natural elements in a way that hides the fact they are real obstacles. Previous reviews of MGG here, here, here, and here will provide insight into the other obstacles. Tip of the Spear was new this race, as were several others that were built for last year’s OCRWC like inverted walls, a funky looking tire wall, a suspended wire crossing, and a double tyrolean traverse. Without a doubt my absolute favorite are the inverted walls. There is just something about running up a wall and diving for a hand hold that gives the temporary illusion that I could be a Hollywood stuntman.
The gigantic water slide at the end of the race (also lengthened for the OCRWC) is one of the most fun elements of any race in the country, but comes with an “Oh (insert your favorite expletive here) what have I gotten myself into” moment as your body propels faster and faster and faster toward a rocketing and mostly awkward-looking splashdown.
Let me close by saying that Mud Guts and Glory is one of the (mostly) uncovered jewels of obstacle races. It is highly enjoyable for even the most casual obstacle racer, but is also loaded with elite talent. I’m always happy to watch friends like Junyong Pak, Chris Schapman, and Taylor Clark post outstanding performances. Joel Fox is starting to make his name known with a 3rd place finish this year. On the women’s side, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett, Erin Brooks, and Adriane Alvord took the podium.
Be on the lookout for the next Mud Guts & Glory race. It is a must-do race for anyone who considers themselves an OCR aficionado.