MUD—as a trail runner, I love it; it speaks to me. Some of my most treasured runs have ended with mud caked so thick on the back of my legs, I thought it’d never come off. I walk through the grocery store post-muddy runs and wear my mud with pride, like a badge of honor (apologies to whoever has to clean up after me).
I often don’t bother washing my shoes after a muddy run because looking at them later with dried mud brings back joyful memories. And eventually the mud falls off, right?
Given my penchant for mud, it should come as no surprise that Hagg Lake Mud Run (Ultra 50K & 25K) is one of my favorite local races; I’ve done the 25K twice. I was close to signing up this year, but decided my calves needed more time off, so I opted to volunteer.
Since today is Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t think of a better day to celebrate the mud I love and the race that encourages it than by interviewing Teri Smith, one of the three volunteer race directors. After reading her interview, I’m sure you’ll waste no time signing up for this mud fest, which takes place this weekend (note: while pre-registration is encouraged, you can sign up for either race day of event).
How muddy will it be out there? Is mud a friend or foe?
With the epic rains we’ve been having, we expect there will be A LOT of mud and standing water all over the course. We’ve seen photos from the trail recently that show complete flooding. It’s going to be epic. We think mud is friend, of course; it’s the mud and challenging conditions that make this race memorable. As a runner, though, the mud can be a little frustrating, and you might find yourself swearing at it; so let me rephrase: mud can be both friend and foe.
What’s your favorite part of the course?
I love the open field section before you get to Fenders Blue, where the sky opens up and you can see the lake below you. It’s quite lovely, actually.
Who are the race beneficiaries?
The primary beneficiary is Oregon Road Runners Club (ORRC), the organization that puts on the race. As race directors, we are volunteers for the organization. ORRC is a nonprofit that promotes running and racing at all levels across the state. The race also benefits the Forest Grove Community School, a local charter – they’ll be staffing the kitchen throughout race weekend.
Volunteers are an important part of Hagg Mud – want to give them some love?
We could not pull this race off without volunteers; they are the lifeblood of the race. From manning aid stations to directing the runners at turn around points to working registration and parking to passing out finishers’ awards, they will be doing it all. We love our volunteers!
Besides the beneficiary component, what makes the race special?
Hagg Mud is special because it’s one of the classics in the region; it has been around since 2002, and it marks the kick-off of the running season. For many folks, the 25k is their first adventure as a trail runner. It’s one of those races you love to hate, or hate to love, like a bad romance. It’s challenging, it’s gritty – you question why you are doing it – and then you come back year after year. We have special parking for 10-year veterans, and we have folks who earn those spots.
Best piece of advice for the runners?
Don’t let the mud get in your head. You’re going to be slower than when you run on the road or even normal trail, and that’s okay. Enjoy it for what it is – a chance to run with your friends around a very muddy lake with a free beer and a hot meal at the finish.
Why did you get involved with Hagg Mud?
The Hagg Lake 25K was my first trail run back in 2009, so it has a special place in my heart. I love that it’s a reunion for all of my running friends after the long winter, and I love that I get to be a part of making it happen. And frankly, I love that I can help put it on and don’t have to go out there and get all muddy.
Anything else you’d like to share?
We have a group of hardcore runners who do the double – run the 50k on Saturday and the 25k on Sunday, for a total of 75k (46.5 miles) of mud. A custom growler of beer, cider or root beer is their reward for this amazing feat. And while you might think that only a hardy few would take this on, we have 45 runners doing the double this year. If they manage to do the double five times, they receive a special engraved growler. We have one runner receiving the award this year; that is some serious dedication to the mud! There’s also a “Hall of Mud” page on the ORRC website to acknowledge mud veterans who have done either race five times.
Hagg Lake Mud veteran? Share your muddy adventures here, but keep it clean (ha ha)!