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Having a muddy good time racing
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I had only three hours of sleep, a stuffy nose and itchy eyes Sunday morning and I wasn't so sure I was ready to get out of bed. But one thing I did know was that none of those things were going to keep me from the 2012 Mud Race & Obstacle Course presented by Subaru at the Georgia International Horse Park.

Thousands of runners of all skill sets came out for the event: from novice runners decked out in pink tutus and sparkles for their first big race to advance marathoners with calf muscles the size of my head, all came out to run and get a little dirty for a good cause. A portion of the proceeds from the race will benefit "Operation Gratitude," which send care packages to troops overseas.

How I got involved
I had heard of mud races before and I had been telling myself for years that this is going to be the year I would actually do it.

But, I never did. Turns out procrastination and race deadlines don't mix, or maybe it was more of a motivation factor. Either way, I put it off. Again.

Then fate stepped in when the sports editor received an email about the mud run and asked if anyone to go. I said, "Yes!" before thinking about what I was getting myself into. I tend to do that and it tends to get me in trouble, but that's another story.

This time, I think what helped me become motivated was that I was going to do it with my best friend, who always seems to be up for anything I ask her to do. I mean expecting someone to run three miles through mud, climb up a rock wall, crawl through ropes, carry sandbags and trudge through 4 feet of water for fun, is a little daunting.

However, as she puts it best, she has been known to "patronize the gym" a little and was up for the task and was there with me through all of it. That was probably the best part of the race, running and experiencing all of the obstacles with a friend laughing along side you.

The race
We arrived just in time as in we jumped out of the car and ran to registration and then ran to the starting line.

Poor planning on our part, because we didn't factor in that parking was going to be such a challenge. The good news was that not everyone started at the same time. To avoid traffic jams at the obstacles during the course, the organizers separated the runners into groups and released the groups at different times. We were in the last group, so we got to relax a bit before the run.

When we finally got the OK to go, we spent most of our first mile running through the woods of the Big Haynes Wildlife Park.

Perfect weather and the perfect time of year to run through the park as the trees were just beginning to turn gold and fall.

My friend and I reached our first obstacle right before the first mile was complete. We had to carry a sandbag up a hill and back down.

I was expecting the volunteers to yell at us like I had seen in military movies when they yell at soldiers during boot camp, but instead it was just encouragement. It was nice and good motivation.

The longer we ran, the more the obstacles became closer together and the more we enjoyed the break from running.

We jumped over a wooden wall, climbed up another, crawled through a tunnel and a mud pit, climbed up a rope wall and slid down an inflatable slide and trudge through cold water that was up to our necks.

The greatest feeling I had was going through the huge mud pit at the finish line.

The mixture of the crowd yelling and seeing the huge finish line sent an adrenaline rush through our bodies, and we dove into the mud pit.

A blur of dirty hugs and high fives to complete strangers ended the race for us along with big juicy cheese burgers.
Would I do it again? You betcha.