Merrell Getting Down and Dirty


When it comes to mud runs, muck is the only given; the need for muscle, not so much. There are plenty of mud runs and obstacle courses that are truly extreme events, designed to make contestants dig deep and call on reserves of strength built from hours in the gym. Some require miles of roadwork to build up endurance, or a good understanding of teamwork as well as inner strength. Some will truly test your mettle.

fitness2xtreme-images-merrell-down-and-dirty-logo-150x150-flWhen considering the Down and Dirty Mud Run sponsored by Merrell, all you need to know can be found on the event’s ‘training tips’ page. Here’s some Facebook feedback from race participants:

Let’s just say training involves a slip and slide, 10lbs of butter, 3 wet Australian sheep dogs, bungee cord, a picket fence, and a Buddhist monk. – Matt T.

My man and I are going to run up and down the stairs of my 16 story building. Each time we make it to the ground level we roll around in the the mud from the lawn sprinklers. Each time we make it to the roof we hose each other off, high 5 and celebrate with a pudding cup snack!! OH YEAHHHHHHHHHHH!” – Jana M.

Advice from the event organizers goes on to suggest running twenty minutes a day four times a week, doing some push-ups or crunches to build some strength, and doing some stretching.

Oh, and remember to hydrate.

fitness2xtreme-images-merrell-down-and-dirty-crossfit-wod-fl-232x300So if you’re a hardcore crossfitter whose day isn’t made unless you’ve killed your WOD (read more abut Work Out of the Day in CrossFit Hardcore or Maui Crossfit Hardcore), reader and you’re at the top of your box’ board every day, or looking for good competition or to set a new PR in a 10K race, this is not going to be your event. But for those who have done a 5K or two and who want a sense for the mud run experience, or who just enjoy finding new ways to get together with friends and give to a good cause, the Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Runs are well-run, safe events that include a great kid-sized version, fun food at the end, and a good time for all.

Traveling Mud Slingers

The Down and Dirty is sort of the Disney on Parade of mud and obstacle races. It travels across the country to be held in ten of America’s biggest cities, and rather than choosing remote, scary topography, it sets itself up in easy access, popular meeting places. Think the Miami Zoo, or Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.

Though some locations may include steep running hills, the courses include very few real physical challenges, and where you’ll find those, you’ll find many people happily walking.

Most of the obstacles are tamer versions of the standard obstacle course fare – you’re certainly not going to see any barbed wire or jump over any flaming pits.

fitness2xtreme-images-merrell-down-and-dirty-tunnel-flAt the Down and Dirty, the tunnels you crawl through are reminiscent of the ones they sell in the kids’ section at Ikea. Think inflatable inclines with pristine slides on the other side, hay bales and walls no more than chest high to be scaled, cargo net climbs and rope climbs up inclines that have been coated with shampoo.

Where other mud races have military personnel barking at you and issuing pushups as punishment for not completing obstacles, the Down and Dirty has volunteers there to help those who need it, though there have been reports of an occasional National Guardsman armed with a water hose – but it’s all very gentle, done for the thrill rather than the threat.

There is one mud plunge at the end, just before the finish line, but nothing is particularly challenging for those who are in good shape, and the whole day feels amazingly similar to field day when you were in middle school.

The only complaints seem to be about occasional rocks in the mud and about long waits at many of the obstacles, which is another indication that this event is less about the physical and more about the fun.

I would absolutely run this race again. How could you not love a race that supports such a great cause? I would not, however, recommend that you go into this race seeking to PR. It is something you should do for a great time. Next year I’m going to do the 10k, hopefully with Brian beside me. Overall, it was so much fun and a great way to bond with my mother-in-law. Katie


The Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run doesn’t bill itself as the ultimate challenge – in fact, the organizers really don’t lay claim to being a challenge of any kind, stating quite clearly on the website that it is for participants of all fitness levels, designed for maximum fun.

The stated goal of the event is raising money for Operation Gratitude, a program that sends care packages to U.S. military stationed overseas, and combining that mission with the entertainment of an active day outdoors has made it popular for teams of friends, families, office groups and individuals who come out ready to have a good time.

There are 5K and 10K distances, with a minimum age of 13 to enter the 5K, and the Kids’ Adventure courses are available in a 100-yard dash for four to six year olds and a mile course for older kids. Although the race is a walk in the park for the beasts among us, nothing to work up a sweat, its accessibility presents a great opportunity to share the mud run experience with our friends and family.

The costs are a bit steep – the 5K hovers at about $60 depending on when you register, and the 10K is $70. Kids’ prices are twenty to thirty dollars depending on the age and distance. But the money is going to a good cause, a point that is hammered home by the very obvious presence of military at every event.

Admission also includes a real tech shirt, a finisher’s medal and a burger bash at the end that even offers vegetarian options. Not a bad way to spend a day with the family, showing them a taste of why you love to play in the mud.


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