Ramblings: Don’t fear the pluff mud, it’s the least of your worries!

Triumph!

Triumph!

Over the weekend I was a witness to a spectacle of human fortitude, sportsmanship and an incredible amount of mud. It was the inaugural Face Your Fears mud run, held in the neighboring town of Bluffton, SC.

Apparently mud runs are becoming quite popular, a thrilling step up from the run-of-the-mill 5k or 10k races that occur with regularity here in the Lowcountry (and probably everywhere else in the US). Our area, i.e. the ‘low-country’ is well, low and muddy, so it’s the perfect locale for this kind of adventure race.

This is pluff mud. Stepping into it you could sink a mere 6 or 7 inches... or 3 or 4 feet!

This is pluff mud. Stepping into it you could sink a mere 6 or 7 inches… or 3 or 4 feet!

We even have different kinds of mud here – sandy mud, red clay mud, and our own indigenous “pluff” mud. Pluff mud is the bees knees of mud. It is heavy yet fluffy with a sticky viscosity that will suck the Keds right off your feet. Pluff mud is found in the salt marshes – it’s the rich, organic matter formed from decaying plants, sea creatures and every other critter that’s ever lived (and died) in the estuary. Pluff mud has it’s own distinct aroma too – as native son Pat Conroy says, “I don’t know of any place that smells like this. It’s a magnificent smell. It’s the smell of where all life comes from. I love that all shrimp, all crab, all oysters are born in the marsh.”

When I was young I didn’t care for that smell myself, but as I grew older pluff mud forever linked my brain with the coast. Its smell became sweeter and instantaneously recognizable as soon as it hit my olfactory cortex. To me that smell equals “home.”

Now, back to the race. So although our area was fashioned perfectly for a “mud run”, lo and behold if it seems that even a mud run has become passé – enter the “fear” part of the equation. Rumors were running rampant prior to the race, regarding the obstacles being added to induce ‘fear’. I heard there may be some electric shock(s) and perhaps live animals. While I discounted electric shock figuring the liability cost would be prohibitive, I thought, “hey, live animals could occur even if the event producers didn’t plan any.” Alligators, poisonous snakes (eastern diamondback, cane brake rattle snakes and water moccasin are common here) and leaches and eels are indigenous in our rural (and not so rural) landscape.

After wading through a muddy pool of frigid water it's up a 20-foot "mountain".

After wading through a muddy pool of frigid water it’s up a 20-foot “mountain”.

Luckily our temperatures have been quite cool over the past couple of weeks, consequently the likelihood of any reptiles lurking out and about on a cold morning was low. So here trudged our group (Girly Girl and I were the support staff) into the rainy, cold morning at Palmetto Bluff Resort. Now Palmetto Bluff has been named one the top resorts in the U.S. (2012 Conde Nast) and it IS quite impressive with an atmosphere replete with Southern nuances and an extremely accommodating staff. But the Face Your Fears mud run was on the OTHER side of the resort – the decidedly “natural” side. Other than a few dirt roads weaving throughout, several shorn acres of corn and an irrigation pond or two this part of Palmetto Bluff looks the same as it did 20 years ago, probably the same as it did 100 years ago.

As the race grew closer the rain drizzled on and off and the mud got muddier. Perfect. When it was all said and done my sis and Dear Hubby made it through and received their ‘dog tags’. Obstacles included a 20-foot high dirt ‘mountain’ climb, a vat of ice, an army-style crawl under barbed wire, straw bail jumping akin to a Mario-brothers game, and lots and lots of mucky pluff mud! No gators or snakes were reported to have joined in the fun. Almost as soon as they were through the finish line, Dear Hubby told me he was ready to take on

After the climb and sliding down the other side, run a hundred yards where a huge vat of ice water awaits.

After the climb and sliding down the other side, run a hundred yards where a huge vat of ice water awaits.

more ‘fear” next year, while my sis may chalk this up to the bucket list… one and done!

About the Face Your Fears Mud Run: Face Your Fears is the creation of Thomas Viljac of Bluffton, SC. Challenge yourself to face your fears both physically and mentally!

The course options included:

Course “B” (the Courage Course) with 3 miles and 16 obstacles and Course “A” (the Valor Course) with 10 miles and 25 obstacles, not including 2 mystery obstacles, the “Game Changers”.

The Face Your Fears Foundation supports four charities. All proceeds are equally distributed to The MARSOC Foundation, US Navy SEAL Foundation, Lone Survivor Foundation, and Brothers In Arms Foundation (SOCOMM).

The last obstacle was a jump into one of the lagoons. At least most of the mud gets washed off...

The last obstacle was a jump into one of the lagoons. At least most of the mud gets washed off…

Dear Hubby helping my sis out of the pond. Ever the gentleman!

Dear Hubby helping my sis out of the pond. Ever the gentleman!

They made it! No snake run-ins, leech entanglements or broken limbs. Just lots of shivering and some muddy clothes to wash.

They made it! No snake run-ins, leech entanglements or broken limbs. Just lots of shivering and some muddy clothes to wash.

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