My almost-forty-years-old son Sam and I had planned on doing a mud run together this spring, before he has to move from Leavenworth, Kansas up to Lansing, Michigan. So, we bought tickets for Warrior Dash last month. Figured Lexington, Missouri would be our closest chance. I drove for four hours and picked Sam up and then drove another forty-five minutes to a hotel at Liberty so we wouldn’t have to leave quite as early the next morning.
When I went out to the car a bit before seven a.m., the weather prediction seemed spot on: 46 degrees and raining. As we traveled a suspiciously twisting route of back streets and county roads prescribed by Google, we speculated about the condition of the course and the effect of running 5 K’s in this weather. “Slick and miserable” was our quick consensus.
Just as we pulled up to the parking area an hour later, a bus full of other participants pulled away. Turned out to be the last bus to leave. Ten minutes later, some young woman in a big red 4×4 pulled alongside the lengthening line of other folks like us, queued up in the chilly drizzle for the next bus. “They’ve closed the course because of lightning.”
It was hardly the development we’d been hoping for.
We followed a group of people who’d walked across the road after hearing the rumor “It’s only a mile to the course.” We ran into a couple of my former colleagues from Highland Community College. After a brief visit with Scott and Jason, Sam and I walked around the school to a line of a dozen or so busses filled with other competitors.
I figured if anybody would know how far it was to the mud run, it would be the guys driving the busses out there. I asked the driver of the first bus, “How far is it out to the course?” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I dunno” in a way that suggested he didn’t care much either. I told the driver of the second bus we were thinking about walking and asked him how far it was. “Well,” he grinned, “it’s a ten minute bus ride.”
That sounded like at least a four-to-five mile hike to us. While we mulled this over, we saw a group of people trotting across the parking lot to where a couple more busses were just pulling up. “Well, Bud, looks like there’s at least six hundred people in front of us when they do start moving the busses out again… if they start moving the busses out again.”
We had a short conference on the way back to the drenched mush of the first parking lot and decided to head back over toward Leavenworth. “We could go run that trail I’ve been training on at Weston Bend,” Sam suggested. “It’s got some great lookouts over the river.” I thought of that line from Braveheart: “Well, at least we didn’t get all dressed up for nothing.”
So, we did exactly that. We ran to the halfway point of three-point-eight miles of river bluffs. On our way back, just as we neared the top of the biggest hill, there was a loud rumble of thunder. As we crested the next two hills, there was more thunder but not that crisp sudden crackling that signals the lightning is close by. We paused at the overlooks again, briefly, looking out across miles of forest in the river bottom, hazed by an overcast sky and rain.
Maybe we were a little addled, perhaps poco loco, admiring the view of a muddy river bend in that sort of weather. Probably a bit demented to think that running nearly four miles of mud trails on a chilly day would be a good time.
Or maybe we were just a couple of guys, bonded by something stronger than genetics, who figured that doing something we love to do and doing it together seemed like a lot better choice than grumbling about the weather.