Inspiration found in mud-soaked endurance run

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 1, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
LANDIS — I grew up making mud pies and climbing trees as a child in rural South Carolina, but I was never what one would call the outdoorsy type.
I ran from mosquitoes and never walked barefoot anywhere because I didn’t like dirt. So, it came as a shock to many who knew me to learn I’d entered myself in a competition that would place me deep in muck.
I signed myself and fellow Post reporter Sarah Campbell up for the Down and Dirty Adventure Run in Landis. The run was last Saturday at the Lake Corriher Wilderness Area.
We enlisted help from friends and co-workers to brainstorm a team name and Salt N Peppa won out.
What, you may ask, would possess us to compete? What were we thinking you may wonder? I do not know. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Just before the run as the rain began pelting us, we again asked ourselves what we were thinking as we saw that very question written on the back of one team’s shirts.
Well, it was too late at that point to turn around. We psyched ourselves up by dancing to the DJ’s tunes and strategizing. Our strategy was simple — survive.
Sarah and I are not runners. She’s a yoga gal and I’m a dancing-Zumba-kinda-chick. Neither exercise activities include climbing a monster tire, hurdling hay bales and crawling commando-style through a waist-high creek.
In the days leading up to the run, we began to worry because it rained every day. That meant two things; lots of mud and lots of water. There was so much mud we could have filmed a commercial for laundry detergent.
The day of the run we purposely made our way to the back of the line because we knew where we belonged. A short pep talk from Landis Town Manager Reed Linn whose four-man team also participated, calmed us down a little.
As we took the first jog past the cheering crowd and headed onto rougher terrain, we slowed to a walk because, well, we were already pooped.
To say the course was grueling would be an understatement. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.
Throughout the course, there were many moments I wanted to give up, but when I looked at Sarah beside me, I knew I couldn’t quit on her.
Strangely, I wanted to stay as clean as possible at first, but after falling into the first mud pit I abandoned that pipe dream. Every knee-deep mud hole was like quicksand that threatened to claim our shoes, a problem that befell many others.
Luckily, someone was always there to pull me up when I sank deeper into the mud.
Sarah and I unofficially became part of the yellow team, known by the moniker “Half Speed.”
The yellow team — Melissa, Ashleigh, Patrick and Ernest — were our saving grace. They encouraged us, literally pulled us from the trenches and laughed with us when we slid down the hill like little piglets in the mud.
As we continued along the trail, we kept hearing there would be drinking water ahead.
I’m not a big water drinker, though I know I should be, but when Sarah and I finally saw the first water point, I swear I heard the angels singing.
We were like foragers in the desert searching for our liquid salvation. OK, I exaggerate, but we were thirsty. And I think we were only at the 2-mile mark.
We saw the table with a cooler on top through the trees and sprinted toward it only to discover there were only two cups left. We split a cup, took a few sips and continued.
By the time we finished, most of the competitors had showered and gone home and the cheering section at the beginning of the day had dwindled to a few. Honestly, I could barely hear them over our cheering.
We ran down the homemade slip and slide, found a place in the grass and collapsed. I was so dirty and tired after the run that I didn’t care that I dropped part of my peanut butter covered bagel in the grass.
I could be embarrassed that we came behind people twice our age. But winning wasn’t the point. Instead, we overcame a challenge.
In the end, as Christopher Robin once told Winnie the Pooh: “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
I guess he was right. I’ll see you in the mud next year.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.