A Story of Men, Muscle, and Mud

Friday, March 18, 2011

For many of us who have visited Walt Disney World more times than we can count we are always looking for new and exciting experiences beyond the usual theme park attractions and resort activities.  I’ve always said Disney World is full of other experiences and opportunities for you and your family to enjoy.  You just need to do your research and look for them before you visit Orlando.  The list of activities, seasonal experiences, and recreation are endless. 

One such experience is rapidly approaching in April of 2011.  Each spring over at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex a very unusual race takes place called the Muddy Buddy.  The Muddy Buddy is a 6 to 7 mile off-road race course with 5 obstacles along the way.  What makes this event unique is it’s a two person team race with running and biking as your means of getting to the finish line.  You and your teammate rotate running and biking between each mile with an obstacle at each checkpoint.  However, before you cross the finish line you and your teammate (or buddy) must brave an approximately 25 yard mud pit.  Running through the mud pit is not an option.  You must tackle the mud and slop by crawling on your hands and knees. 

The Muddy Buddy is not part of the ‘Run Disney’ program.  In other words it’s not a Disney sponsored race.  It’s part of a race series which travels across the country.  It just so happens the Orlando Muddy Buddy is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.  To learn more about the Muddy Buddy race series watch this video or visit the official race website here.  This years Orlando Muddy Buddy takes place Saturday, April 9th.  You have until April 5th to register your team. 

In May of 2009 I was very fortunate to be part of a 6 man group who participated in the Orlando Muddy Buddy race at the Wide World of Sports Complex.  We had 3 teams who were all joined together for a common purpose.  We were running the Muddy Buddy to raise money for Give Kids the World Village of Central Florida.  It’s a charitable organization and village which gives children with life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to visit the Central Florida theme parks.  For more information about Give Kids the World Village you can visit their website here.  For more information about the Disney Internet community’s effort to raise $1 million dollars for Give Kids the World Village visit the ‘Power of 10’ website here

Our 3 teams were fortunate to be visiting Disney World when the Muddy Buddy occurred on May 9th, 2009.  It just so happened we were all booked on the same Disney cruise scheduled to depart the following day on May 10th.  Thanks to the Disney Internet community we were able to plan this race along with our cruise itinerary several months prior to meeting each other in Orlando.  For some of us we met for the very first time.  Eventually we were all going to meet at some point.  However, it was the Muddy Buddy that created an experience for us which brought us closer together; a friendship.  It created a bond and memory for us we’ll never forget.  Add to it we were running for a charitable cause and now something very special was occurring.  We were about to be brought together by several common interests other than our trip to Disney World.  

Our 6 man team from left to right included Paul Lunny, Dave Parfitt, Don Puckett, Aaron DelPrince, Todd Carrier, and Chris Walthers. 

I must admit I’m not much of a runner, although I’ve been in training over the past year.  In 2009 I wasn’t in the best shape either, but I figured I could tackle approximately 3 miles of running and 4 miles of biking.  What I didn’t expect was how rough the terrain would be on the course.  Several spots along the course were full of sand pits and dirt making the cycling portion of the race very difficult.  In fact, at some points during the race I became a bit frustrated.  The Muddy Buddy is more than just an endurance test.  It also challenges your mental state of mind.  It wears on you physically and mentally.  If the sand and dirt were not enough you’ll encounter 5 obstacles along the way which test your balance, strength, and ingenuity.  I don’t want to give you the wrong impression.  The Muddy Buddy is not an extremely difficult race; however, you do need to know it’s more than just 6 or 7 miles of running and cycling.  It combines several elements as you work your way towards the finish line.  It is a very fun and unique race.  In fact, many race participants chose to dress in costumes. 

What a mess!  Pictured above, my wife would not get near me with my mud covered shirt and her white top. 

Pictured above is the Muddy Buddy race founder and Chairman Bob Babbitt who dresses in a frog costume for each race. 

In the end we all finished the race.  We even had some interesting fun in the mud pit along the way.  And yes, we were extremely muddy and sweaty.  Thank goodness this race occurred in the early morning, otherwise the heat and humidity would have made the race more difficult.   Most importantly we raised nearly $4,000 for Give Kids the World Village thanks to several other Disney enthusiasts who supported us before, during, and after the race.  When the race was over we all became closer friends.  To this day we still stay in touch and try and see each other whenever we are in Orlando.  We still laugh and relive our Muddy Buddy adventures almost 2 years later. 

Participating in a race at Walt Disney World can and usually does unite several people together.  It creates a sense of accomplishment at a place that’s very special to several people.  Add-in the fact you are running inside a venue with some great scenery and it can inspire you to run additional races in the future.  For me personally, it’s inspired me to run smaller races throughout the year.  Running a race inside the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or even the Wide World of Sports Complex is something very memorable.  For those of you who think you can’t run a race you maybe mistaken.  Participating in a 5k is great way to get started.  Some runners even walk most of the 5k races throughout the parks.  Either way participating in a Disney World race is a whole lot of fun.  If you plan it right you can experience this fun with many of your friends and family.  The sense of accomplishment will bring you closer together.  A trip to Disney World provides great memories, but sprinkle in a special Disney race and now it’s very possible memories can blossom into friendships. 

Next Up:  Providing some perspective on character meals at Walt Disney World   

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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