Posted on March 29, 2011


justin harris mudders and grunters

2011 Mudders and Grunters Team Champions

This past weekend I chose to skip Bethel in order to help my ol’ Marist teammates claim the coveted Skull.  The Skull goes to the best 4-person team at the Mudders and Grunters 5 mile race at FDR Park in Yorktown Heights.  We’ve won it the past but, haven’t had it in our possession for 3 years.  I tried once 2 years ago only to fall short to the evil guys of Albany Running Exchange (jk they are very nice guys!).

Mudders isn’t the typical 5 miler as I still have the scrapes, bruises and cuts to prove it. Typically, the course is, well, covered in mud. At times, you are running off trail through the rough woods following little pink surveyors flags, which are very hard to follow apparently since Sean Hopkins blasted past a few of them — leading us shortly in the wrong direction. There are several bog/swamp crossings that totally suck the life out of your legs and, with a half mile to go, is the money maker for the whole race — the water pit aka stream crossing. There is a prize to the best entry into the water. Usually its a flip, a belly flop or a cannonball but, this year a guy actually pole vaulted into the pit! And, don’t forget its end of March and the water is freezing. At one of the swamps, leading the charge through, I actually broke through ice! Had some nice blood streaming down my leg post-race.

The best part of the whole race however is seeing the Marist guys. Hicks, Hopkins and Kirk are the regulars with Ritter, Walsh and myself filling in the void. Mr. Hicks commented that his favorite part is seeing how we interact as if a day hasn’t gone by since we last seen each other. I’d take a guess that it’s the same with other teams. We’ve spent many hours riding in the vans to practices and meets, spent many a workout grinding it out with hopes of running faster, worked together in countless races, and got frisky at the local water holes probably too often for our own good. But, from it all, it has built lifelong friendships and memories that, at the end of March each year, a few of us come together to try to put it all together to relive those college years. We do it for Coach Pete. We do it for the program. We do it for our friendships.

It felt great to see the shit-eating grin on Hopkins face — having just hammered me into the ground to take the individual title but, more importantly help lead us to the team title. I’d run that race a million times to see that!

It was even better to get a text from Coach Pete saying, “Well DONE!”

To me, to make Coach happy, is what its all about.

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