It's baaaaaack....

Welcome to the triumphant return of the Blogtown series we like to call Worst. Night. Ever.

Every Wednesday during our weekly "My, What a Busy Week!" pitch meetings, someone suggests an event which is the equivalent of shooting burning acid into our eyes—but we also realize a more enlightened person might love it! Hence, these "risky" events are often unfairly pushed aside. WELL, NO MORE. Instead of allowing these events to vanish forever, once a year—and only for Worst. Night. Ever.—we attend them. We write about them. We share with you, dear readers, our Worst. Nights. Ever.

Every week, a member of the Mercury's editorial staff will be presented with several events that do not match their personality or interests... like, AT ALL. Afterward, he or she will review it right here on the blog! NOTE: Everyone's taste is different, right? So while attending a "weird sex ecstatic dance naked thing" might make Ned absolutely miserable, Dirk would probably love it! As ever, competitors must stay for at least two hours (or until the event is over, whichever comes first) and are not allowed to get drunk, or use any substances (drugs) or distractions (phone/reading material) to dull the pain they may experience.

First up: Shelby R. King's experience at the Rugged Maniac run, one of those douche-filled runs where people get norovirus! GODSPEED, SHELBY.

Worst. Run. Ever.
  • Worst. Run. Ever.

AS A NEWCOMER to the Mercury, this was my first Worst. Night. Ever. But as someone who is maybe known as being a bit judge-y, it was easy for me to find something—during our very first idea-generating meeting, as a matter of fact—that sounded like it would be decidedly unpleasant: a mud run.

You know about these things: they’re generally 5Ks, you get filthy, pretend you’re some badass, and the participants in the ad photos are usually either girls in matching (muddy) tutus jumping arm-in-arm, or total doucher guys who probably wear Affliction shirts and say “epic” and “bro” a lot.

So my boss, the esteemed Wm. Steven Humphrey, said he was thinking of doing it. And I loudly (as I do with most things) expressed my disdain for those events. The Tough Mudders, the Spartan Races, the Dirty Girls. All of them. I even hate the Color Runs. If you have the color runs, you should probably check your diet, you know?

A few days later, my boss posted on the Mercury's Slack about how he didn't think he was going to be able to make it after all, and asked if anyone else wanted to go. GAH! So, here I’m the new girl, and I just made all this noise about how awful I think those things are. And now there was my boss asking if anyone else wanted to do it. Yet another reason why I need to keep my goddamned mouth shut sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time.

So I volunteered. Read: I think I totally set myself up for this shit (thanks, Steve). And I do mean shit. Did anyone read this Washington Post article? Probably not, because no one reads that rag. But it’s about a bunch of people getting norovirus after participating in one of these in France.


So fresh and so clean. And so sad.
  • So fresh and so clean. And so sad.

Which brings me to my first point: I did not want to be covered in mud. Scratch that. I was dreading the thought of being absolutely head-to-toe covered in gross sticky mud on a hot day. I didn’t want it in my face, I hated the thought of getting it in my eyes, and I had no idea what I was going to do if it got near my mouth and I couldn’t wipe my mouth because my hands and everything else were covered in mud. I had visions of showering and bathing and using a pressure washer and still having mud in all of my parts. Do you get what I'm saying? All of my parts. I'll leave it at that. I was afraid I was never going to be the same.

Second, I run. I’ve done it for years. I do it alone about 99 percent of the time, and I tell people it’s because it keeps me sane. No one believes me, but whatever. Mostly I do it so I can (A) be away from my kid for an hour, and (B) eat and drink (mostly drink) whatever the hell I want and not balloon to 400 pounds like I otherwise would.

Third, the other reason I run alone is that when I race I get weirdly competitive. Like I will give myself an exertion headache just to get in front of the 50-year-old man in front of me. Then, when I’ve done that, I’ll give myself a stroke in order to pass the 9-year-old in front of him. What I’m getting at is: I’m not fast. But I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to let the grandma I’m gaining on pass that finish line before me.

So, I get online to register. This run’s stupid name was the Rugged Maniac. Which, already that name is pure NO. It was, of course, a 5K. The website actually says, “Get Rugged. Epic Obstacles. Epic Party!” Coincidence that it has nearly the same punctuation as Worst. Night. Ever.? Not a chance. This one was on June 20 at Portland International Raceway. It promised “25 epic obstacles and 1 rockin’ party!” (Seriously with the word "epic") The course description threatened that I’d “crawl through underground tunnels, leap over fire, and experience some BIG new obstacles (trampolines?!)!” That last bit there? With the trampolines in parentheses and the extra punctuation? That was actually on. the. damn. website. UGH.

I was clearly not going to ruin any of the clothes I actually wear in this muck, so I got Steve to let me go to Goodwill to pick out an outfit on the Merc’s tab. I was originally thinking a wedding dress and boots of some sort, but the Rugged Maniac/Goodwill gods were smiling on my that day and within 10 minutes of entering the store, I exited (without trying anything on first) with this little number, including those snazzy silver shoes. Just having that to wear put me in a better mood.

Worst. Dress. Ever. Yes, thats a row of shitters behind me.
  • Worst. Dress. Ever. Yes, that's a row of shitters behind me.

Oddly, when I showed up at PIR the next day, amid seriously thousands of participants and spectators, I was the only person in a gold satin cocktail dress. Huh. Weird.

Looking around at the grindingly slow registration line, I was surprised: There were considerably more people who looked like regular weekend joggers than there were douchey bros and screechy sorority sisters. Most people apparently do these things on teams though, so not only was I the only one in gold satin, I was the only one not standing in a little cluster with other people in matching (appropriate) attire. So, pretty much it was like how it usually is when I go to a party.

My wave started at noon, and to even get into the starting area you had to hoist yourself up and over this wall that was maybe up to my shoulders (Please see first photo in post). Then we all milled around like a bunch of cows. There was this guy next to me who was aggressively stretching and I wanted to be like, “What are you doing? This is a 5K. Seriously.” But I didn’t want to actually interact, so I just stood there, kinda like I did the last time I wore something made by Jessica McClintock (yes, that dress I wore really was an original Jessica McClintock), which was at like a formal dance in 8th grade where no one really talked to me either.

Worst. Cattle Call. Ever.
  • Worst. Cattle Call. Ever.

Finally the auctioneer announcer came over the loudspeaker and yelled some stuff, and the participants yelled, then a gun went off, and then we were off like a herd of cattle.

I felt totally non-competitive, which was refreshing, considering what I told you about myself and races, and I just kinda jogged along. I paced this girl for a while and wondered when the obstacles were going to start and thought about how it was probably going to be pretty easy, considering it was only three miles.

I was wrong.

For the first mile, the obstacles were spaced pretty far apart. I didn’t have any pockets in that dress—and I forgot my matching evening clutch purse—so I couldn't bring a notepad and pen with which to write the order down, therefore I don’t have a firm recollection of which was chronologically first, but work with me.

The first obstacle that sticks out in my memory was called “The Trenches.” I'm just over five feet tall, and my legs are approximately the same length as a Corgi dog's. These trenches were seriously wide, at least for me. I think the idea was to get a running start and just leap all graceful and gazelle-like over each, barely touching the ground between each trench with one foot, but not a chance could I do that. I had to leap, stutterstep, stop, regroup. Leap, stutterstep, stop, regroup. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I thought they would never end. But they did, and I did not fall in.

Remember, there are 25 of these obstacles—and we haven’t even got to the water, the muddy water, the actual mud, or the fucking HEIGHTS yet, people.

Here's another fact about me: I am terrified of heights. I hate them. I haaaaaate them. Also, please remember about my short legs. Two of the obstacles involved me climbing up—probably never any higher than 20 feet, which might as well be scaling a skyscraper to me—and over these structures made of horizontally-placed two-by-fours that were spaced so far apart that I could barely reach them with my legs. The going up part isn't so bad, it was the over and down parts—where I had to go by feel to reach the next stick—that were terrifying.

Yes, that is more height than I can comfortably scale. Phobias are not logical, okay?
  • Yes, that is more height than I can comfortably scale. Phobias are not logical, okay?

There was also a particularly torturous height-related obstacle that involved traversing a giant net that was strung 10 or so feet above the ground. Here's a shot of it from below:

  • Whimper.

Now let's talk about the mud. Better yet, let's look at it:

It went right in my eye.
  • It went right in my eye.

My nightmare became real at this obstacle, which I'm pretty sure was called the "Commando Crawl." As soon as I shot out of one of those tubes behind me, muddy water went RIGHT IN MY EYE. I didn't even want to think about where else I had muddy water. Also, yes, that is real barbed wire strung above me, which meant there was no cheating and standing up. The look on my face resembles enjoyment, but it was actually the first time I'd spotted my friends, and what I was thinking is, "you gals are total assholes." They were supposed to be there to watch my kid while I went through hell, but instead they decided to follow me around and take pictures as a fun surprise. Lucky me. The only thing that saved me from crying was that I could smell a very strong odor of bleach, or chlorine, or some other disinfecting chemical (THAT GOT IN MY EYE) every time I was forced to submerge myself in muck. Thank you for not giving me norovirus, race organizers.

I came home with a lot of bruises and two abrasions, both of which were on the back side of each shoulder. Proof:

Tiny abrasion. Weird face. Lots of mud.
  • Tiny abrasion. Weird face. Lots of mud.

I got those abrasions from an obstacle that required you get your body down an asphalt hill, beneath more barbed wire, before splooshing into yet another pit of muddy, bleach-y water. I stood at the top of the hill for a minute, trying to decide the best method of descent, when one of the volunteers working there—in fact, I think it's that evil woman in the very clean red shirt standing behind my rolling carcass in that photo—said to me, "Your best bet is to lay on your side and roll. You have to commit to the roll, but it works the best." I'm not really great at committing to anything, but I thought okay, this sucks anyway, I might as well do it up good. Like so:

Roll, roll, roll ... SCRAPE.
  • Roll, roll, roll ... SCRAPE.

As expected, I did not fully commit to the rolling, or maybe I just did it wrong, but after a few rotations gravity took over and it became more of a roll-slide.

I won't bore you with ALL the details of the other 18 or so obstacles I conquered over these 3.1 miles, but here are some highlights: there was the "Pyromaniac," which meant jumping over/through actual FIRE, which made me wonder about the flammability of satin; there was "The Ringer," which meant swinging from ring to ring over mudwater (I fell in after two); there was "The Gauntlet," which meant attempting to run across a flimsy metal plank while giant punching bags swung back and forth (yes I got knocked into the water); and there was the "Napoleon Complex," which was a wall that required I use nothing but my arms (because there was nothing to get any leverage on with my feet to help out) to lift my entire body up and over a slimy, muddy, wet wall. I made it, mostly because there was no way someone as short as me was going to get beat by an obstacle named with the intention of shaming short people (what a bunch of dicks those race organizers are), but it was REALLY HARD.

The grand finale included crossing that hellish rope web I mentioned earlier and sliding down a huge slide to end up in yet another vast cesspool of chemical-infused mud water.

  • Eeeeeeeewwwwwww.

Probably my favorite thing about the event was the names I got called by people attempting to root me on while also commenting on my dress. I heard Homecoming Queen, Goldie, and Princess. I've been called a lot of names in my life, but I guarantee that was the first, and most likely the last, time I'll be called any of those.

It was all so very gross, but: I got a finishers' medal, a banana, a T-shirt, and a beer. I also got multiple bruises on my body and to my ego, but that's pretty usual. Was it the Worst. Night. Ever.? Well, I didn't get norovirus, Giardia, or E. coli, so I guess it could have been worse.