The year was 1981. A friend asked me to be his teammate in an event called a Ride and Tie. The concept was simple: Teams of two runners- plus a horse- would attempt to complete a 28 mile off-road course with each partner taking turns running and then riding Mr. Ed. Since I had never ridden a horse before, I went out the week before the race and attempted to take our horse for a ride. No problem. You pull the reigns left, he goes left. What’s the big deal?
Well, on race day they started the event with a shotgun blast and needless to say the big deal was that, after running the first five miles, I had to try and get on the back of a 2,000 pound fire breathing beast who was pawing the sky with his hooves and would have loved nothing better than to dance the Cha Cha on my head.
After finally mounting up and holding on to his mane for dear life while we hurtled our way through the woods, something told me that this leapfrog format for an event was spectacular, but the huge miss was the huge thing I happened to be clinging to for dear life.
So we eliminated the horse and replaced it with a mountain bike and the first Columbia Muddy Buddy was held in the summer of 1999. Since then nearly 150,000 happy campers have become Muddy Buddies
The key for us from the beginning was to create a family friendly experience with an event that would be challenging but totally doable for anyone and everyone.
The course is always primarily off-road on double- wide fire roads since many of our Muddy Buddies are just getting into mountain biking. We avoid single track and highly technical courses so that all of our Muddy Buddies feel comfortable in the saddle. Since our courses are about six miles, each partner will end up riding about 3 miles-one mile at a time-and running 3 miles-one mile at a time-so someone with very little actual training can successfully complete their first Columbia Muddy Buddy and receive a cooler-than-cool finisher’s medal.
What differentiates the Columbia Muddy Buddy from the other great mud events that have come into being in the last few years? That’s easy. With our Red Hook Beer Garden, the best mud pit on the planet, legendary costumes, spectacular obstacles, great music, really fun team names and awesome sponsors, we have created an epic party atmosphere that has been a huge part of our Columbia Muddy Buddy DNA for 13 years now. Plus, with our Columbia Mini Muddy Buddy for kids starting at the age of 4, we will always be a family friendly event.
What’s new this year? I’m so glad you asked! So you have a buddy but you’d rather not ride a bike? No problema. You and your buddy can team up in our brand new ‘Just Heels, no Wheels’ Division. You get to run and hang out with your buddy and do all of the obstacles and mud pit together. What could be better than that?
Now heading into our 13th season, what I’m proudest of is the growth of our Columbia Muddy Buddy Family, which you are about to become a part of. Father’s compete with their daughters, husbands compete with their wives and sisters and brothers and best friends spend quality time sweating together, laughing together, slithering through a mud pit together and, most importantly, celebrating together. During those 13 years our Muddy Buddies have also given back and have helped to raise over $300,000 to help support the disabled athletes who are supported by our amazing official charity, The Challenged Athletes Foundation. Thanks for all you do to help keep disabled athletes in the game of life through sport.
Please don’t hesitate to drop me a note anytime at email@example.com if you have a question, suggestion or simply want to share a great story. Speaking of great stories, I am proud to say that over the past few years we have had numerous couples get engaged, married and celebrate anniversaries in our Muddy Buddy Mud Pit.
If you have been with us before, welcome back! If this is going to be your first Columbia Muddy Buddy, I can’t wait to meet you after you emerge from the mud pit coated head to toe. I’ll be there to greet you and I’m pretty easy to spot.
Just look for the guy in the frog suit.
Muddy Buddyingly yours,
AKA Mr. Frog