2008 Mt. Penn Mudfest: "More fun than a paper cut on the tip of your tongue"

March can be a wonderful time of year in Pennsylvania. Spring is just beginning, flowers are starting to bloom, you wash your car, clean your bike, buy new sneakers, and then…it snows.

On this lovely first day of spring, and Easter weekend, in Reading, PA, I was standing in 30 degree air with snow pouring down on me with over 800 equally crazy individuals, as well as fellow Team Z-ers Ray and Dave, who were probably more crazy than everyone else because I was easily able to convince them that this would be a “fun” race. We were all waiting for a pig to be launched into the air so we could begin running the rocky, steep, muddy, trails of the Mt. Penn Mudfest.

Finally, 20 minutes after the scheduled start of the race, the pig was launched, and upon its landing we took off for countless surprises around every turn of trail. And Mudfest it was. This race had the usual killer steep long hills and rocky trails that are common for trail runs in the area, but it also had ankle deep mud, four freezing cold creek crossings, and about 100 yards of downed trees that required a good under/over/around strategy to successfully navigate. However, with no time to develop a strategy, you pretty much just fling yourself from tree to tree. For the creeks, you can’t simply hop over these crossing, or skip across on rocks. You splash right through knee deep water, and then climb out the other side on you hands and feet up a muddy bank, grabbing whatever you can to keep from sliding back into the creek: trees, roots, rocks, the feet of the person in front of you, whatever you can get a hold of. I think the creeks are great because when else do you get the chance to ice your potential injuries in the middle of a race? I think this is something more races should include. Plus, running in squishy sneakers adds that special extra something to running.

Ray showed off his trail prowess to everyone behind him by doing flips down the trail. Ask him about it. He also savagely bit the heads off of any and all marshmallow chickens that got in his way, leaving the sugary yellow bodies strewn across the trail to die.

Dave survived the race with everything but two toenails and a little less skin on his legs. No one really needs toenails for running anyway.

I slipped on a tree and later got to do a nice slide down a hill. Sometimes sliding is just easier that running, but sometimes running is just not an option so it is better to just plan a good slide on your heels rather than ending up on your butt.

It was a tough day for spectating as Holly had to walk up small hills to watch the race while holding hot chocolate, AT THE SAME TIME. But despite her hardships and standing the in the cold for hours, she helped us out with a post run feast of twizzlers, peeps, and pretzels: excellent recovery food for both running and cheering from the snack food capital of the world.

We stayed for awards, even though none of us got any. Somehow I was unable to defend my first place age group title from last year. In fact I came no where close. But I think that in 2009 I’ll be back to win another piggy bank to keep my 2007 piggy bank award company.

P.S. I managed to snag 3rd in 2009 but the 2009 piggy doesn’t hold money.

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