Monday, October 04, 2010

The 2010 Bakersfield Volkslauf

Saturday was my fourth mud run of the year, the Bakersfield Volkslauf.  While normally an annual event, they didn't have one last year because they lost the land they'd been using.  The one this year was in a new location, as a result.  And it has some major kinks to work out.

My roommate Daniel and I both went up for it.  Daniel was running the 5K version with some friends, and I was doing the 10K as a mixed team with a friend from the college and a couple of her friends.

We were aiming to get there at 7:45 for a 9AM start time.  And we got in line to turn into the one mile long dirt road leading to the parking lot at 7:50.  It took us an hour and ten minutes to travel the last half mile of pavement and mile of dirt road to get parked.  Fortunately, they had already announced that the race would start late, partially because the runners have to cross the road twice.  Now some people are complaining that the start of the race was delayed because of those who showed up late.  I'm sorry, but if I am waiting in line over an hour to park, that's not my fault, and if they hadn't delayed the start of the race, I would have been more furious than I was.

Nowhere had they told us that we would be running in various waves, although that made sense to me.  Nope, we found that out after arriving.  Daniel was in the first wave.  I was in the last.  Between the start delay and the length of time between the waves, it was close to 11 before we finally got started.  In fact, I was able to cheer Daniel on through the final obstacle before we left the starting gate.

The record heat we've been having held just one day too long, and it was very hot out there.  Since we were last, they were starting to run out of water by the time we got on the course.  Keep in mind that I was already very thirsty, but didn't want to go back to my car to get water since we'd parked quite a ways away.  And they were out of water at the finish line by the time we got there.

I had wanted to do the 10K because I wanted to do all the obstacles.  Tunrs out, all the obstacles were in the last mile.  So for the extra three miles, all we got to do was weave back and forth in switchbacks on a flat, dirt field.  If I'd known (and they refused to put up a course map to "surprise" us), I would have just done the 5K as well.

Now, if all this sounds like I hated the entire thing, that's not the case.  The obstacles were great.  There was a quarter mile mud trench we had to plow through.  I went to jump in, misjudged it, and wound up going completely under.  Yep, I got the muddiest I've ever gotten on this mud run.  There were several 8 to 10 foot walls we had to climb over.  I wouldn't have made it over many of those without my team mate Marc, who was getting us up and over just about everything.  Tunnels connected two mud pits, and it was awesome crawling between them.  There were dirty hills we had to crawl up after jumping in mud trenches.

So, would I do the race again?  Yes.  I'd give them the benefit of the doubt that they'd fixed some of the things in their control (weather wasn't, amount of water was) like parking.  I wouldn't sign up until they posted a course map on the website, however.  Then I could decide whether to do the 5K or 10K.  I'd definitely do it with someone committed to help me over the obstacles.  I couldn't do it on my own, and that's a fact.

Ultimately, I had fun and I'm glad I did it.  But boy the shortcomings due to poor planning were obvious.  On their Facebook page, one of the organizers is acting pretty defensive whenever anyone complains about something.  I realize that a small group worked hard to put all this together, and I appreciate their work.  But that doesn't mean that there weren't serious issues that need to be worked out.  Shooting the messenger isn't going to help anyone.


Anonymous said...

In spite of all the glitches, it was fun and I'll be back next year.

I picked a helluva race for my first one ever!!

Mark said...

Yeah, that you did. It was the hardest mud run I've done.

But boy was it fun.