The Baker's Dirty Dozen
By Sarah Demerly
Competitors wait for their run up the
cargo net and glissade down the slide as one of the obstacles
at Muddy Buddy.
Saturday, May 9th, 2009 was a record setting day. It was the
morning of the Muddy Buddy multi sport event in Orlando, Florida.
There were an astonishing 3500 competitors at the start line.
This number is significant because it speaks to the growth of
multisport events on a multitude of competitive levels from
novice to professional. In addition, the Muddy Buddy event itself
has grown considerably with 2009 being the 10th anniversary
year for the series. With a struggling US economy versus the
cost of travel and racing, these numbers are staggering.
Kelly Kowalski and I prior to getting
Muddy Buddy is a Formula 1 style, trail
duathlon with a bit of a twist. At the mud laden event,
competitors race in teams of 2 and use only one bicycle.
Each team concocts a zany team name and corresponding
team uniforms. Every bicycle is adorned with decorations
exclusive to each team, making the bike recognizable for
easy retrieval. The format of the race is especially unique
being that the athletes switch between running and riding
each segment of the race. When asked about the event,
Denso employee, Kelly Kowalski mentioned, “I'm very
excited and a little nervous. It's my first multisport
event.” Fortunately, she did very well and I had
the pleasure and privilege of racing with Kelly as my
Each leg is approximately 1.2-1.5 miles in length
and at the end of each section, the competitors must complete
an obstacle. Obstacles include, but are not limited to, river
crossings, cargo net climbs, rock walls, monkey bars, balance
beams and last but not least, the infamous mud pit where the
event fittingly receives it’s name.
|When the running member of the team reaches
and completes the obstacle, they find the team bicycle and
begin riding. The rider of the last segment drops the bike,
completes the obstacle and then begins running for the next
segment . A brainy team would use the stronger runner the
first leg of the race because that athlete would complete
3 running segments and only 2 riding and the weaker runner
of the team only 2 running segments and 3 riding.
The holding area before the teams
enter the mudpit.
The teams switch back and forth in this manner until they reach
the holding area for what awaits them before the finish line.
The holding area, somewhat of a bicycle graveyard, where the
faster of the partners (usually the cyclist in most cases),
will drop their bike for the last time and wait in anticipation
of the their running partner. When both members are joined together,
still in cleanly bliss, they take a short run over to a cargo
net, crawl under, and complete the last obstacle together; the
An intimidating sight competitors see
before writhing in the mud.
Two participants on their way
to finishing the race.
Each team must crawl on their
hands and knees under a series of lowered flags in order
for their trek through the muck to qualify as the last
obstacle. After the pit, the teams cross the finish line
together arm in arm, absolutely filthy as only partners
in grime can do.
Muddy Buddy racing is followed with hoses
for showering off, a fantastic post race picnic and some
of the best awards in the sport. The top 5 teams in each
age category are awarded medals and a podium finisher
photo. Prizes are also awarded for the best costumes in
Participation levels in Orlando were unmatched
in comparison with previous years. That said, of all the multisport
racing that exists, the Muddy Buddy series offers a more cost-effective
opportunity for athletes of all abilities. Packet pick up is
well organized and runs smoothly the day before the event and
volunteers are just around the corner to answer questions. According
to Debbie, a race volunteer in Orlando, "We're happy to
help. This is a fun event for all of us."
Between the race and the awards ceremony, Paul
Mitchell hair products, sponsors a mini Muddy Buddy for the
children of race participants. The mini race is a short run
through 2 obstacles and a chance to writhe around in the mud
pit. Kids under 12 are welcome to participate and will cross
the pit. The assistance of a parent may be used if necessary.
In true competitive fashion,
the younger competitors
await their start and race up the wall before getting
Providing events in 13 locations across
the country, finding a race close to home is easy. And,
the fact that only one bicycle is used and the course
is on a trail, tuning up the old mountain bike in the
garage isn’t as farfetched as one might imagine.
Although I wasn’t able to catch up
with Muddy Buddy founder Bob Babbitt in Orlando, the writing
was on the wall…or website…literally. With
some helpful hints and tips my teammate Kelly and I were
able to place 4th out of over 60 teams in our group. Some
tips we found helpful include:
An interesting approach to the
balance beam obstacle.
- Decide who the faster runner/rider is
and proceed accordingly so that the faster in each discipline
does more of their strength.
- Agree on a mutual resting place for
the bike at each obstacle making it easier for your
partner to locate.
- Make sure to have 2 helmets. You’ll
both need to wear them throughout the entire event.
- Toe cages or platform pedals are a must.
No clipless pedals. There are no transitions at Muddy
Buddy so you’ll have to wear running shoes for
faster obstacle completion and for the running segments
of the race.
- Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Scaling the rock wall in the adult
edition of the race.