If you read my first post("I Hate Running") on this subject, you know that the droning thud-thud of my feet has had little interest for me since I was a wee lad. As the number of earth-sun-orbits I have experienced has increased, the joy of running has been replaced by an increasing hatred for this most primal of activities. Can't we evolve past this running thing, already?
I have, however, enjoyed a few of the muddy adventure runs that I have experienced. This kinda freaks me out, because with a name like "Hell Run", you would think that mucking through watery slop, climbing walls, and crawling under barbed wire would mean LESS fun. You'd be wrong. Here's why:
If running and climbing and ducking and slipping and falling and climbing and grunting sounds like fun to you, you are sick. While this does not sound like fun to me, IT IS. The obstacles remove the standard coma-inducing boredom that normally experienced while running, even providing you with something to look forward to. I know, it's mortifying. But it works. That primal satisfaction that real runner-types insist is a part of running actually works for me when I hit an obstacle. Is it the engagement of other muscle groups? Is it the satisfaction of climbing a 15-foot wall and overcoming an obstacle? Is it the satisfaction of stepping on someone's hand "accidentally" as you do so? I do not know. I do not care. It's fun. Dangit.
Running sucks. As I said. MANY times. However, running around a bunch of other stupid/psychotic/crazy people has its advantages, and a general sense of group enthusiasm is one of them. This may be the greatest reason to enter ANY organized race, but muddy adventures like the Hell Run seem to be better at generating the kind of enthusiasm in its participants. This gives you an adrenaline boost that lasts for at LEAST the first 30 meters, if not a few more. So it's like running a much shorter race.
Running is typically a fairly solo sport. Though our family runs together several times a week, my wife's joy for running-as-meditation and my children's desire to zoom off on their scooters/humiliate the slow daddy has meant that even group runs are typically, well, not group runs.
The Hell Run is different in that it's more of an "event", so we can share the experience with friends, making an event out of it. We even play dress up a bit, which for me includes such radical moves as wearing a certain group zombie training t-shirt, a bright green headband or neon socks. My friends this year took "dress up" even more seriously, wearing kilts, zombie makeup, or obnoxious you-can't-unsee-that tights:
I am pretty critical of running, but perhaps the return of my taste for beer is a benefit? There is nothing quite like a nice cold brew after a hard run or workout or exercise regimen or bout of rigorous thinking or television show.
We were outraged this year - outraged, I say - at another race we attended, the Warrior Dash, and their decision to allow Miller Light as the sponsor and sole beer choice. You might be able to get away with that stuff in Arkansas, but in the Pac NW we like our microbrews and fancy IPAs. Hell Run was a total win with Alaskan Amber, and for this we thank you. Sherioushly.
Our Seattle Hell Run was treated to Tone Loc hisself this year, which was fun for us old fogies remembering the days when we meant something. It WAS a bit funny to see Tony Loc giving personal shout-outs to the three "brothers" in the crowd. That's not an exaggeration. While Seattle is a pretty liberal place, apparently this type of activity is still pretty homogenous in the type of folks it attracts. Sorry Tone. Still, us old white folks loved it.
On a more general note, music is a generally inspiring thing when running. I put on Steve Boyett's podrunner episodes when I run, which has saved more runs than I can count from total boredom and/or a suicidal depression spiral. So I guess I owe you my life, Steve.
Oh yeah, and don't forget there IS actual running.
This is what puts the "Hell" into Hell run. It's a short 3 miles, and except for the Hell/running part... it's a helluva lot of fun.