On May 4, roughly 150 people gathered at Pine Falls Lodge and Resorts in Markstay, clean as a whistle, their ATVs almost sparkling. About eight hours later, and more than 50 kilometres of airborne dirt and mud, the only sparkle left was in their eyes.
Setting out from the lodge, a convoy of ATVs and side-by-sides embarked on a day of trail-riding, mud-bogging, laughter and camaraderie.
It was my introduction to the mud-running culture. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I did know I was going to get dirty. I rode on the back of a Kawasaki Brute Force 650, nuzzled in tight behind my boyfriend, a sophomore mud-runner.
I’ve always been pretty fond of exploring the woods — by foot, that is — and enjoying the peace and serenity nature has to offer. But I have to admit, there’s something to be said about the roar of raw power rocking the silence, at least for one day.
I couldn’t help but smile and squeal as we sped through the bush, hitting puddles at high enough speeds to send a wave of muddy water cascading over us.
The one thing I learned from my mud run experience was to throw caution to the wind. The higher the possibility of getting both bike and rider buried in the mud, the more likely we were to drive straight into it.
As a mud-run rookie, I wasn’t dressed completely appropriately to enjoy the mud to quite the same extent as my pals. On our rest stops, they were wading through the opaque brown water like it was pristine blue. One friend even did a cannon ball into the middle of a particularly deep “puddle.”
I exhibited a bit more caution — my rubber boots were MIA and I wasn’t keen on riding around in soaked hikers all day long. So I stood back, enjoying my friends’ youthful antics through the lens of my camera.
Fred and Louise Dunham, our gracious hosts at the lodge, arranged for a barbecue lunch at the midway point of the route, where all the bikes pulled in for a break on the shores of the Sturgeon River.
The Dunhams had a lovely roasted pig and prizes waiting for us all when we pulled back into the lodge at day’s end.
I’m certain I’ll be returning to the Pine Falls Mud Run again next year, in hip-waders, and ready to hit the mud at full speed.
Laurel Myers is the managing editor of Sudbury Sports Magazine, Northern Life’s sister publication.