Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. --
If you were to show me a Marine with no competitive bone in his or her body, I would show you a liar. We’re Marines; naturally, we like to compete.
We try to exceed one another during our physical fitness tests. We try to score better than the Marine sitting next to us on the rifle range. Our Marine Corps was built on a strong foundation of men and women who came before us who wanted to be the best, and today our ranks are filled with Marines who feel the same.
I am not the best; I can admit. I hate to admit it but … I can. Despite knowing this, I still like to compete, physically and mentally, because I can always improve and strive to be better.
In the past 12 months, I’ve come across another way to help make improvements, satisfy the competitive streak in me, let loose and have some fun all at the same time: obstacle races.
The world of obstacle races seems to be sweeping Southern California by storm and I’m caught up in its hype. It’s physical. It’s social. It creates memories.
Barstow, Calif., held its annual mud run at its local sports complex, May 11. More than a handful of Marines and civilian employees from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow came out to participate in the race. Last year wasn’t only its inaugural year, but it was also my inauguration into the downright dirty event. Since then, I’ve climbed through boulders in the High Desert, been chased by zombies in Southern California’s wine country, and jumped through fire to finish a race.
The daily physical training I do each morning doesn’t only benefit the Marine Corps; it helps with my own personal goals. Being contractually bound to stay fit, in my eyes, tells me, “hey, you’re going to run, do pull ups, and crunches anyway. Why not make use of the results outside the Marine Corps?”
And so, a year ago, I decided to participate in a race and see what the fuss was about. After I found a few friends willing to go with me, I ran my first mud run. It was a revelation.
On race day, there were people everywhere with different builds, statures, and even senses of humor. There were a wide range of eager participants including the typical long-legged, aerodynamic runners or the muscle-bound gym goers, but these ‘elites’ were not alone. I’ve started races next to young children or men weighing close to 300 pounds. Every race seems to surprise me in one way or another. I started noticing this when I began seeing groups of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers running the courses. Yes, I’m talking about costumes.
Participating in mud runs and other obstacle-style races have really been beneficial to me, not just physically, but mentally as well. Toward the end of an eight-mile obstacle race, it felt as if I was running on fumes. I didn’t know how I was still going, let alone completing the obstacles and challenges along the way, but with the help of friends I ran with, and the words of encouragement from the occasional runner I came across, I completed the race.
I really enjoy how well my life in the Marine Corps compliments running these races. I think the concept of military service members participating in races in their off-time is still a hidden gem. Granted, I understand it’s been happening for quite some time and I’m not the first to cross over into this new community, but I believe it has potential to grow even more.
When it all comes down to it, these runs are just plain, old-fashioned fun. I mean, letting loose with a few coworkers or friends on a weekend? Trudging through mud up to your knees? Tackling a friend into a pit of mud? I don’t know about you but, count me in.