This past weekend I participated in The Muddy Princess, which is an all-women’s mud-based event that is 100% about fun, teamwork, and getting outside your comfort zone! Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! There were over 15 women on our team, and we stuck together to help each other out of the mud pits and over the slippery mud berms all while laughing with and cheering for each other. This is the first time I’ve participated in a “race” without a timing chip, and it was kind of liberating. When we got to the tire wall and there was a line of women waiting for their turn on the obstacle, we weren’t upset about waiting. Instead, we embraced the two women who seemed “stuck” at the top because they hit a mental block and were scared to swing their legs over to go down the other side. We felt like we were up there with them even though we didn’t even know them, and we celebrated them as they conquered their fear to complete the obstacle. It was just such a cool event!
As an amputee, muddy water is not necessarily my friend because water makes it so the sleeve that holds my leg on loses suction, my prosthetic foot fills with water (making it pretty heavy), and all the little parts are no fun to clean out after the fun is over. It’s also fairly uncomfortable to walk around with a soggy sock on my leg in my prosthesis (like a wet shoe, but worse because there’s more surface area). These are the reasons I’ve generally avoided water parks and other water-based activities most of my life… BUT, when my friend/coworker Shannon told me that she wanted to do a mud run, I jumped all in and decided I wasn’t going to let these inconveniences get in my way. We found the perfect “beginner” mud run and quickly started promoting it to our friends so we could form a team. Watching everyone tackle the obstacles together was such a great experience, and I’d hate for other amputees to avoid these sorts of things because they’re afraid of what might happen to them and/or their prosthetic limb.
In order to help other amputees who might shy away from trying something like this, I offer the following thoughts…
- Make sure you don’t have any components that will be ruined by getting wet – talk to your prosthetist before you sign up to make sure your prosthetic limb will be able to get wet and muddy.
- If you wear a sleeve to hold your prosthesis on, plan on throwing it away after a mud race (or spending hours trying to clean it).
- Wear a thick knee-high sock over your prosthesis to prevent at least the large chunks of mud/straw from getting in your prosthetic foot/components.
- Bring a towel so you can dry out your leg if needed. If you wear socks, bring an extra sock to change into immediately after the race.
- Clean out your components really well after the race to avoid more serious damage caused by things that may have found their way into different parts of your limb.
- Practice activities that specifically target improving your proprioception – the better you can “feel” your prosthetic foot, the better off you’ll be for this type of event.
- Make sure you work on strength training for both the upper/lower body.
- Use a friend to stand by you as you do the obstacles on the course if you’re not feeling confident – they can be nearby to use a shoulder if needed or ignored if not needed.
- Don’t let your pride get in the way – if you don’t feel good about an obstacle AND it’s not something you can do with a friend standing by to support you (like a big wall of tires), it’s okay to go around it this time. You can go home, work on the strength/skills you need for that obstacle, and come back next time to conquer it safely.
- JUMP IN! HAVE FUN! EMBRACE THE MUD!