Sweet mudder of pearl

Guess whose back? Back again?

Ethel’s back! Tell a friend!


Could somebody pass me a washcloth?

The great thing about all of this mud is that it covers the myriad of cuts and bruises that now decorate the length of my body.

It may or may not look like I went ten rounds with a baseball bat.

Actually, what I really want to do is get a t-shirt that says, “Yeah, but you should see the other guy!”

Also, those running shoes did not return with me on the ride home. The mud was so thick in parts of the race that people were actually losing their shoes.

Talk about trauma-rama – at mile three we passed some poor girl desperately searching through the muck to find her long gone runner – arms and legs completely lost in the mire, trying to feel about for her sinking Nike.

(This was also in a section of the course called “Bush Whacking” which had seen us literally carve our own paths down the side of a forested mountain.)

Her incredibly supportive teammate (and by supportive, I mean exasperated as hell) threw her hands up in the air and exclaimed, “Fuck the shoe!”

Fuck the shoe you say?

Oh no no no no no no no….

There is no way in heck that the unfortunate mudder would be able to continue on to finish her race without something resembling a shoe strapped onto her foot.

And by resembling I mean an exact replica.

Shoes – they matter.

Because dudes, THIS was one hell of a course.

Over 12 miles long (of which probably a good two miles were in the snow!), we went through it all: crawling in the mud under barbed wire, crawling in the mud under ever lower barbed wire, scaling ten and twelve foot walls, running up half-pipes (this nearly broke my breasts – small though they are, no word of a lie that hurt like heck), traversing monkey bars over freezing water, ACTUALLY jumping into freezing water, electrified slip and slides, electrified finish lines, WALKING UP THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN THAT HOUSES A BLOODY SKY JUMP (at mile ten mind you), more mud (think the consistency of newly mixed cement), more mud, running up hill, running down hill – did I mention the mud?

My number, M’s and my headbands.

And seriously, it was glorious.


A day of supreme bad-assery, if you will.

M and I worked together like a team on fire. It’s so amazing to see what we are capable of doing as a unit when put into these kind of situations. Neither of us complained, or whined; we continually checked in with one another, encouraged each other, let each other know what hurt, what needed to be stretched out, where we would next take water, whether one of us needed to use the loo.

Actually, funny story there.

After the Arctic Enema – even less sexy than it sounds, let me assure you – I realize that I need to quickly use the john. Well, what with my shorts and my underwear now super glued to my body, it was a hell of a time trying to get those bad boys down, let alone back up again (think removing the wettest, coldest bathing suit (re: speedo), and then trying to put it back on as fast as you possible can.)

It’s practically impossible, right?

Especially when you are trying to move it, move it.

My extremely competitive nature made me briefly consider leaving with just my shorts back in place and my underwear still straddling my upper thighs, but luckily I though better of it and made sure everything was good to go before getting back to business.

Oh, I also did the really classy thing of peeing into the urinal (this being an outhouse it was the easiest thing to access) instead of the actual toilet, because some schmuck had actually closed the lid – and there was no way I was making the effort to lift it back up. Plus, THAT’S GROSS.


Anywho, to get back to the race. What a day – beautiful weather, not too cold, not too hot, sun in the alpine, cooler in some parts but not freezing (that was what we had the water for.) M and I ran pretty much the entire course save the brutal, brutal track up the sky jump hill – the incline was just too much, and at way too far into the race. We jogged probably the first 50 meters before settling into as fast of a hike as possible.

It was pretty cool as we neared the finish line – you could hear the music and everybody cheering – what a way to pump you up to finish the race.

As soon as you crossed that line (after running through a massive obstacle filled with wires, some charged at 10,000 volts) M and I just collapsed into a huge hug, and just held each other for a second to drink it all in.

I cannot say all too much else except that I am so very proud of us. We achieved something pretty amazing the two of us together – 12 miles, 23 obstacles, 2 hours, twenty minutes of madness and glory.

Post-race however, as my brilliant friend K texted me later that day – “That awkward moment when you are scrubbing and scrubbing and you realize that it’s not mud, but a bruise.”


Pre-shower legs.


Pre-shower arms, plus my number still written on my forehead.


Next day legs.


Next day arms.

Phew, so there you have it.

Also, the next race is in Seattle on September 29.

I may or may not be able to wait to get out there again.

How about I get the team t-shirts? And will that be a small, medium, or large?

Published by

Vanessa Woznow

Writer, runner, ranter, reader. I write about all things.

50 thoughts on “Sweet mudder of pearl”

  1. Gees. That’s how I look after playing paintball. Ha, and nothings better than a “dirt” bruise.

  2. Oh. my. god. you are SO BADASS!! i’m conpletely in awe of you!! Congrats with surviving and thriving!

  3. Valerie and I will join you next time….We’ll be part of the observation team at your arrival.

  4. Lady, you are my freaking HERO!!! Seriously so so proud of you! Sounds like you guys ran like champs!! Such an adventure and you’ve got some mad bragging rights, to boot!
    Are you up for a re-do next year? I’m hoping to catch one in Seattle or Vancouver… :)

    1. Ummm, YES! No need to even ask. I would love to do the one in Seattle!! Totally count me in :)

      Thank you so much for such lovely words! It was such a crazy adventure – all that training culminating in such a great day. I cannot wait for the next one!!

  5. Wow what a great feeling that must have been to go through and finish! I didn’t know they had electrified parts! Oh my god! haha. Sounds like you kicked some major ass! Good on ya! That’s nuts how many bruises you ended up with – and a story for each one too! :)

    1. It definitely felt amazing to reach that finish line! I was originally terrified of the electrical wires, but by the time I go there I was just too tired to care!

      Now I look like a an inverse panda – but I’m rocking the look! :)

  6. My wife is very pale (like translucent pale) and one time after giving blood her arm turned into one big mess of bruise. People started asking her if she needed to talk and if everything was alright at home. No one believed that they missed her vein at a blood drive. If anyone asks you; you’ll have a pretty gorram good excuse: “oh, I fell up and down a muddy, icy mountain for about twelve miles because that is my idea of a good time”. You will still garner some strange looks, but people will believe a story that strange.


    1. Thanks Versi!

      And your wife and I should really start a club. We’ll get membership cards, so every time someone hints that they think we are battered women, we can whip out our identification and set them back on the straight and narrow.

      1. Maybe a support group too with monthly meetings! I think she mostly finds it funny but if she ever wanted to leave me or something ever happened to her; I would definitely have witnesses lined up outside the courthouse ready to testify about how abusive I was and how they should have seen it coming.

  7. Sweet baby Jesus, you look like a victim of domestic abuse! And you call ME a badass! Ethel, sweetie, you and M are seriously amazing for doing that killer of a track. What an experience! Hope nobody got fried at the finish line, that really would add insult to injury!

    1. Dudette – you ARE badass, and a total inspiration!

      Re: the bruises. I know! It’s awful – especially because my bruises are only on my arms and legs, easily covered up areas…and all I wanted to do for the next six days is prance around in sundresses and shorts!!

      I hope too that no one got hurt! I got a tiny shock on my ear in one of the early obstacles, but nothing at all at the finish line.

      Thank you for your lovely comment!

  8. Holy mother of all bruises! This post made me want to give up women and liquor and don my running shorts. Maybe after just one more drink…

    Seriously now. Totally inspirational; I am in awe!

  9. That looks fantastic! I expect to be in the same, if not worse condition, when I do the tough mudder in september! I am so terrified lol! Did you make it across all the obstacles, or fall in on some? I am expecting that with my pathetic upper body strength that I am going to fall in a lot and hope that it’s ok to then just swim to the other side ;)

    1. I made it across all of the obstacles, save for the monkey bars. I slipped on the second to last rung – it totally broke my heart!

      Which TM are you doing? I am so, so excited for you! You will have the most brilliant time :)

      1. I struggle with pull-ups! I am doing weights at the moment, as well as sometimes the TM training they provided on their website, but am nursing an injury (torn abdominal muscle) that makes things a little slower than I would like! At the moment, on assisted pull-ups, I can lift about 80% of my body weight, so something like the monkey bars makes me unsure if I can make it! Otherwise, everything else I think will be terrifying but doable :P
        I’m doing the TM in Sydney, Australia, this September! It’s getting so close! How hard did you train for it, what kind of things did you do? I really want to make sure that I am as prepared physically as I can be, then the mental “you can do it” attitude, and most of all, just having fun with all the other Mudders! :)

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