Thursday, March 10, 2016

MudTitan 5 - Plant City, FL - March 5, 2016




MudTitan’s 5th race, aptly named MudTitan V, was held on March 5, 2016 Plant City, Florida.  Mud Titan is known for being a locally owned mud run in which part of the proceeds benefit The Youth Alliance. The Youth Alliance promotes “Living Bully Free” and “Healthy Relationships” throughout America and is a non-profit organization. My husband and I have had the pleasure of running this race the past two years and were excited about our third venture to this memorable location.  For the past few years the race has been held at the same location on Prevatt Rd. in Plant City.  On non-race weekends cows and livestock roam the fields between pre-standing wooden obstacles which are scattered throughout the acreage.  The property itself is simply “country” beautiful, and you can easily see why it’s the perfect place for a home-grown run such as MudTitan.  The property is everything you would expect of farm land with open areas of pasture, and shaded areas filled with trees and foliage.  The MudTitan course takes you through these pastures, fields of water, woods, and small sandy hills. If one were to take the obstacles away, and if this area was not private land, it would still be a great place to go for a gorgeous trail run.  Some morning runners were even commenting on their up close and personal experience with wild deer running through the area!

Going into race day I had a pretty good idea what to expect.  MudTitan is consistent with their product, and although small changes are made, the event holds true to the ones it’s held in the past.   This year’s MudTitan highlighted two course options, a 5K or an 8K option in which runners could choose their intended route based on directional signs posted throughout the trail.   From a competitive standpoint MudTitan V did offer some big changes for the elite wave in comparison to previous years.  These changes were communicated in emails from the race director, prior to race day, with the hopes runners would have a full understanding of what to expect.  From what I observed through social media, and as an online presence, questions were answered promptly regarding any email communication sent out.  The new changes in the competitive wave included the athletes being required to run the 8K, have mandatory obstacle completion, and the athlete was only able to attempt the obstacle one time.  If he/she failed an obstacle the volunteers were instructed to remove a black band which was only given to the competitive wave athletes before the race.  The awards given out would go to the top three male and female winners who kept their wrist band and completed the race.  In addition, age-group awards had been discontinued because lack of registration for the competitive wave and there would be no timing chips.

The Competitive Wave is Off!
Now, let me pause for a moment and give a disclaimer.  I by no means would consider myself an “elite” racer and have only ran in one competitive wave before this race, so I do not have an educated and backed up opinion regarding MudTitans new competitive rule changes.  I do know many races have gone to the mandatory completion rule, however I’m not familiar with any only allowing the athlete one opportunity to complete the obstacle except Spartan Race where you can opt for burpees.  I personally enjoy running the competitive wave because it allows me to see how well my physical ability has progressed, provides me with a fresh course to run with little to no waiting at obstacles, and it’s the first wave of the morning.  The added bonus to running competitive wave for me, is the small possibility that you will complete every obstacle, and just maybe get an age group award or even a qualification ticket into Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) World Championships.  Whit that said I also completely respect each races unique rules and regulations.  I do believe it’s part of the “game” and what would this sport be without constant change!?

Lady Titan posing for pictures!
I was previously registered to run the MudTitans competitive wave but with these new rules, the removal of age group awards and the fact it was a local home-grown race, I decided to volunteer and run with the volunteer wave instead.  As a volunteer for the event I had 2 jobs.  The first was to hang out with the paramedic in case an emergency happened on the course and I could bring her to the obstacle.  (This was because, outside of a few people, I knew the course pretty well and the location of each obstacle)  The second was to be Lady Titan where I walked around the festival area smiling, screaming, flexing, and posing for pictures.  I have to admit, I loved every minute of being in the Lady Titan costume!  I would scream at kids telling them it was my battle cry and ask them what theirs sounded like, and they would scream back! The highlight of the day was watching the Mini-Titan Wave, which was a 1 mile run for the kids, take off with kids running full power from the start line, only to have half of them lose their shoes in the mud pit 10 yards out.  One little girl around 6 lost one of her tennis shoes and by the look on her face you would have thought the world had ended….luckily she had Lady Titan find the missing shoe for her and made her day…off she went to complete the race.

In passing throughout the day, I heard pros and cons of the new competitive rules from athletes participating, and could see each side of the fence, but after looking around at the people attending MudTitan V it hit me…this race wasn’t designed as a  cut throat competitive, elite race, where EVERY athlete was sponsored by a name brand of some sort, and if you couldn’t climb the 8 foot wall by yourself you were a disgrace to athletes everywhere…it was designed as a family friendly race, where friends, family, children and beginners could enjoy a beautiful day with physical activity, and do some really cool things they never thought they would before.  I witnessed families helping strangers crawl up the bent wall from afar, people giving each other high fives, children waiting for parents to finish running while cheering on other racers, and a sense of community between a group of people who were there for one common goal.

Volunteer Wave Warm Up - Dancing to "The Wobble"
After a hard day of being Lady Titan (it really wasn’t hard, it was a blast) the volunteers gathered to run the race themselves.  I was excited because I had heard about the new course changes, was aware there were a few more new obstacles and was looking forward to running with friends.  The course itself was everything I had remembered it to be from previous years.  A few highlights and changes were the Gladiator Games obstacle which was designed as a “Cross-Fit” boot camp where the runner had to do burpee box jumps, flip tires, and a tire rope drag around a circle before completing and going on to the next obstacle.  The remaining course consisted of the same obstacles as previous years.  There were the monkey bars newly named Cliff to Olympus, the curved wall, the tire wall, over-unders, log carry, and many more of MudTitans signature obstacles.  This year a large hill was added named Mount Olympus which runners had to run up the hill as part of the race, and if you chose the 8K option it was followed by a different route which took you to a tire carry.  Most of the additional 8K obstacles were located on the last stretch of the run which included a tree cargo net climb, and a sandbag carry before merging again onto the last two obstacles of the race.  The first of the last two obstacles are a ring crossing over water, where you grab a ring, and swing to the next crossing over a water hole.  The second and final one was called Medusas Wrath where the racer climbs an inverted ladder to rings, cross a trench of water using the rings or ropes, then climbs an inverted ladder down to the bottom.  Going forward I would love to see some changes and upgrades made to the existing structures in order to keep the course fresh and new for returning runners.

If you had attended the 2015 MudTitan, and remember all the rain and flooding the area had the week prior, you will remember that a considerable amount of the last race was through knee high water.  Lucky for athletes and participants this year the field was much dryer and had a much more acceptable amount of water crossings. This made the course much nicer and the amount of mud just right! 

Early Morning Registration
The initial registration process upon entering the festival area was efficient and I barely noticed any lines backing up.  To ensure runners comfort pre and post-race the festival area had changing rooms for individuals, ample water to hose yourself off, enough porta-potties to accommodate the crowd, shaded trees, a bag check, and The Hot Box which is a local food truck providing super yummy tacos.  My favorite new addition to the festival area was the State Farm Tent.  Representatives were there to answer questions about insurance, but most appropriately, they were duct-taping runner’s shoes to their feet so they wouldn’t lose them in the mud pits!  What a great idea! 

The weather for race day was perfect and it was a beautiful day to enjoy a wonderful family oriented mud run.  MudTitan promotes fellowship and family so they have always been open to people bringing their own tents, chairs, food, coolers, and any other outdoor comforts (just don’t bring glass) and have always encouraged everyone to spend the day out enjoying the music, weather, and race.  I would encourage everyone who wants to give a mud run a try to make MudTitan their goal.  If you’re local to the Plant City, Fl area, want to spend the day with your family or just would like to get out of the house, MudTitan is a great way to get your family moving and outside!  You will be surprised at what you can do.  The next MudTitan will be held on August 27, 2016 and you can learn more about registrations at http://mudtitanrun.com/.




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