Watching the promotional video that The Mud Rush (TMR) organisers had uploaded on their Facebook page, our first reaction was that of self-doubt. The 7-km ‘mud race’ through slush and marsh in a scenic location seemed exciting, but its military-style obstacles designed by professionals from the Indian Special Forces made us wonder if we’d pull through.
A three-hour bus ride took us to the venue, a small river town called Kolad. But TMR, touted to be the first of its kind in Asia, was hardly a race. It was non-competitive and everyone who finished the run was a winner. After a brief session of warm-up exercises led by Captain Swaminathan (the brain behind the obstacles), we set off.
The first hurdle — a steep water slide that ended in a slush pool — left us with bruises (or “real medals”, as the Captain referred to them). However, the run lost its steam after that monster hurdle. We walked a long stretch in the burning heat with no obstacles in sight. The dry spell ended with hurdles that seemed designed for kids. These included climbing atop and down from a haystack and hopping our way through a bed of tyres, among others.
Then we finally arrived at the obstacles we’d been looking forward to. Most happily, we jumped into three successive slush ditches of varying depths, slithered our bodies through a narrow tunnel in the ground, waded through a neck-deep and horrendously cold water trench with floating ice planks and bathed in the shallow waters of the Kundalika river.
Another long walk took us to our final series of hurdles that transformed us into grinning, grimy ghosts. We earth-crawled through a marshy muck canopied by barb wire, balanced ourselves on narrow wooden planks before finally crossed the river. A final hop across a fire-pit took us to the finish line where organisers welcomed us with a medal and a can of beer. With our small victories sealed, we couldn't have felt more triumphant.
The fact that The Mud Rush isn’t really a race made it a great event. That’s probably why over 850 people participated in the race. The foot-massage stall in the festival arena was a hit among weary runners.
The sun-downer party that featured DJs Martin Roth, Dinka and Weekend Heroes was a spoiler. A thoughtfully programmed artiste line-up could have worked wonders. Also, they should have planned more obstacles at shorter intervals to avoid the regular bouts of boredom.