Loaded down, many cyclists made it a few steps up then slipped back to the bottom. Having just finished my running leg, I crossed the obstacle first and stood at the top to wait for Sylvia. I was worried about her with the heavy bike. While I waited, I grabbed bikes for other people. They were immensely grateful, reminding me that cutthroat competition can be—and should be, sometimes—secondary to the experience of just being out there.
Sylvia and I hit the final obstacle—a mud pit the size of a backyard swimming pool—together. Flagged ropes hovered a few feet above the surface, forcing teams to crawl from end to end. I watched one guy get stuck, flounder, and fall face-first into the goop.
Really, I'm going to willingly crawl through this slop? But the finish line (and the beer) was on the other side, so I dropped to all fours. We held the ropes up for each other's helmets, and held each other's hands in victory as we crossed the line. Our legs felt worked, our spirits were as high as the inflatable slide, and our pleasure-not-pain perspective netted us a respectable fifth in our age group.
Attitude duly adjusted, I'm ready for my 14-miler next weekend. I just hope there are a few good-sized mud puddles along the way.
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