You haven’t heard of The Mountain Mucker?!
Don’t worry, it’s not that surprising! The Mountain Mucker is a small local race held at Mount Sunapee in the spring, and it’s hard to believe this is the 3rd annual event. Being that I grew up not even an hour away from the race location, I had heard of this race previously. A friend from high school has participated every year, and I am a little jealous of this fact. Initially, I had heard about it after the very first race. Last year I was reminded of its existence, but I believe there was a conflict in my schedule. This year I made no excuses. I skipped bigger, better known, races just so I could give this one a shot. I could not have made a better choice!
Directions: Knowing my destination was Sunapee State Park, I wasn’t too concerned that directions weren’t passed along. Then my GPS failed me somehow. My co-pilots and I were able to sort it out, but I think there should be some signage as you enter the park so you at least know you are headed to the correct parking area.
Parking: A stone’s throw from the festival area, in a large lot…and it was free!
Facilities: Port-a-potties spread around the festival area enough that you didn’t have to go far to hunt one down! (For a small race, it was great that they didn’t have 5-6 in one spot, but rather 1-2 spread out). Clean-up consisted of hoses, but there wasn’t a designated changing area.
Vendors: Mountain Mucker tanks and sweat shirts. Vinyl bags (think locally made Thirty One). Food supplied by the resort food service.
Swag: Polyester T (looks like cotton), finisher medal, can coozy, 16oz plastic cup, 1-year subscription to Kearsarge Magazine, race sticker, a reusable bag (not shown)
We got there very early, and were able to see off the very first heat at 9am. A heat that consisted of 15 people. The RD hyped them up, and sent them up the mountain. A short while later this guy wearing a bright green plaid leisure suit, showed up at the starting line. We weren’t sure if he was racing or what, but as it turned out he was the MC for the day, known as Mucker Man. He was lots of fun and he was all over the festival area.
I wasn’t sure what to expect for a course, this was a small race with very local roots. Sure, it was at a mountain that was used for skiing, but this would be a walk in the park, right? Well, no, not entirely!
1 – Tire Mound
2 – Hay Tunnel
3 – Half Pipe
C1 – Log Carry
4 – 5 ft wall
5 – 6 ft wall
C2 – Dig through mud for your number
6 – Mudball Target Practice
7 – ?
C3 – Memory Test
8 – ?
9 – Traverse Walls(?)
10 – Flip your lid
11 – Half Pipe with Extension
12 – Dumpster with mud
13 – Over Unders in the mud
14 – Slippery Wall into mud
15 – “Barbed Wire” Crawl
The Mountain Mucker is a 5k course – with 3 bonus challenge loops to complete – and 15 obstacles. We took off from the starting line and after a very short flat we started up the mountain. Up and up we went until it flattened out a bit and we hit our first obstacle, and our first aid station. Each obstacle had adorable names, but forgive me as I’ve forgotten them. The first was a mound of tires to climb over, encased in a wooden frame with even more tires suspended from rope. A short distance to the next obstacle and we found ourselves climbing through short tunnels made out of hay. We continued on our way to the 3rd obstacle. This one was a half pipe to a platform to a cargo net dismount. It was immediately followed by the first challenge loop – a log carry, up a fairly steep incline and back down, on a patch of snow that hadn’t lost it’s battle with the Spring.
This was were it started to get interesting. If you’ve done an OCR before you met a wall or 2 in your travels. The standard wall build allows for you to grab the top of the wall, right? Well someone told the course designer that this type of wall was too easy. These walls were 2x6s on the face. At the top there was a 2×4 – yes folks, you had to get all the way to the back of that board or pull yourself up by your fingertips at the wall face. But wait, this was only on the shortest of the walls. The 6 ft and 8 ft walls had the added bonus of a 4×4 underneath that 2×4, and there was no step! Needless to say, these were tricky!
The second challenge loop brought us up to the summit. It was a beautiful view of Lake Sunapee from way up there! We trucked on up, and our challenge was to first figure out the degrees Celsius of the last number on our bib, then dig those digits out of a muddy pit. For our efforts we were rewarded with another aid station, a lovely conversation with the volunteer (“The Old Guy”), and a breathtaking view of the valley below. We made our decent down to an area where there was a mud pit, some jumbo (3 person) slingshots, and a series of targets. The goal was to make a mud ball and hit a target using the slingshots. This was lots of fun, and required a little bit of talent, skill, and luck.
About this time is where the obstacles start to get a little fuzzy, hence the blanks and question marks above. There was another obstacle after Challenge Loop 2, but then we arrived at the final Challenge Loop. Using the last number of your bib, you had to memorize a string, go for a little trek, and return back to recite it back to the volunteer. The loop was up and back down, and I still remember my string – BB22JKLXQ. We headed back to the course after this, and of the next 3 obstacles, only one do I remember – the traverse wall! This one was epic, it consisted of 3 lengths of wall with 2 90 degree angles to navigate. The hand holds and foot holds were mostly 3D and triangular, and boy was this one fun!
The last few obstacles were one right after another. A quick one with a bunch of plastic lids to dodge through. Then, remember the half pipe from earlier, well it made another appearance nd wasn’t any easier. This time it had a 2 foot extension at the top. There was a platform made out of 2x4s. This was a tough one, and required some upper body strength I currently lack. After 3 attempts I called it, and move along to the next one. We weren’t really all that muddy at this point and we were a straight shot from the finish line; it was right there! Don’t worry this was remedied. We climbed into a dumpster containing about a foot of really sticky mud. Emerging from the other side my feet felt like they weight 10 pounds each! Then we dove into the mud, climbing under some PVC and over some PVC. Hopping out of there we tackled a slippery wall, then through a barbwire crawl (it wasn’t real) and a few trots to the finish line.
I loved this course and am already planning to do this one again next year!
A few suggestions:
* Add steps, or some form of assistance to the taller walls
* Add a “ladder” to the back side of all of the walls and not just the 8 ft wall
* Each of the challenge loops were supposed to have colored bracelets for those who completed them. None of the loops had any left when we passed them.
* Changing tents
* Supplying bug spray and sunblock to the masses
* Great course with fun obstacle variations
* Mucker Man (who gets bonus points for knowing Akuma!)
* Reasonably priced food options
* Really great mud!
To keep updated on all things Mucker related, keep an eye on www.themountainmucker.com
All photos used with permission from Pat Hendrick Photography – www.pathendrickphotography.com