By Pete Williams
Just two years ago, Muddy Buddy had a near monopoly on the obstacle mud run category, at least among national tours.
These days, it seems a new mud series launches every week, which has stolen some of the thunder from Muddy Buddy’s all-inclusive, entry-level, bike-and-run, obstacle barnstorming tour, which finishes the 2012 campaign Sunday at Zoo Miami.
Bob Babbitt, who created the series 12 years ago, says there’s a place for all of the races.
“It’s like running where you have races from 5K to marathon and even further,” he says. “Now you have Muddy Buddy, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder. There’s plenty of variety and athletes have no shortage of options.”
There’s a lot to like about Muddy Buddy that other events haven’t duplicated. The two-person, leapfrog format is unique. One competitor starts out on the bike, rides to the first obstacle, completes the first challenge and takes off running. Meanwhile the second athlete runs to the bike. After about six miles of changing off, the athletes meet up at the mudpit for a 50-yard crawl.
Athletes compete in male/male, female/female, or mixed divisions and numerous marriage proposals have been made in the mud pit. A frequent refrain is that a Muddy Buddy race might be the perfect third date.
For all the talk about entering other mud runs as teams, that’s usually irrelevant once the race starts. At Muddy Buddy, you must compete as a team since you’re sharing a bike.
Plus, only at Muddy Buddy can you roll back your age. That’s because most scoring divisions are by combined age. In April, I teamed with a 58-year-old triathlete training partner for Muddy Buddy Orlando and we finished 12th out of 70 teams in the new “competitive” age category, which Muddy Buddy added this year for those who take their mud runs seriously. (The competitive division goes first, thus avoiding the inevitable backup of traffic on the course.)
On Sunday, I’ll team with a 20-year-old pal, also from my tri group, who goes to college in South Florida. Not surprisingly, there’s been plenty of trash talk between my two buddies over which team will post the better 2011 time. (That’s assuming I haven’t gotten any faster or slower in seven months.)
We recently spoke with Babbitt, the unofficial historian of the endurance sports world who dresses in a frog suit for each Muddy Buddy event, on The Fitness Buff Show.
Name of Race: Columbia Muddy Buddy
When: Sunday, November 20, 2011, Zoo Miami, 8 a.m.
History: This is a second-annual event at Zoo Miami, though the Muddy Buddy series is 12 years old.
Format: Two-person teams with one bike between them leapfrog over a roughly six-mile course, dealing with obstacles and a mud pit at the end of the course.
Amenities: T-shirts, post-race food
Noteworthy: This is the Muddy Buddy season finale. A proposed season championship for the Dec. 3-4 weekend in Punta Gorda was scrapped once Tough Mudder scheduled a race in Pasco County the same weekend.
Projected Turnout: 900 two-person teams
Registration: Online through Nov. 16 at $150/team. Day-of-race registration available space permitting.