The Proper Way To Make a Mud Pit

Mud with gusto

A post shared by Scott Novis (@scottnovis) on May 5, 2013 at 11:36am PDT

Make an Absolutely AWESOME Mud Pit

Today was the adventure race in our neighborhood, Buena Vista Ranchos. Every year for the last half decade we have an adventure race in May. The Schnellers (Holly and Freddie) do an incredible job every year of organizing the adventure race. I was at the first one when there were about 20 kids. We raced around the neighborhood collecting bits of paper, and plotting points on the map. There was a mud pit back then, but it was mostly dirty (freezing cold) water over rocky dirt.

The dirt in Arizona is weird. They call it coliche. We call it clay. Every year there is some variation of the mud pit. And every year I would chaperone a group of kids through the race. Each year crawling through the mud pit. It started with my oldest, then my middlest, then last year with Rebecca I think was my last year as a guide.

So this year my wife asked me, “Do you want to work a station?” Sure I said. It sounded like fun. They assigned me to the mud pit. Freddie was very excited. “I was worried we wouldn’t find anyone to do it.” Are you kidding me? The mud pit was probably the best part of the whole race – and every year the race got bigger, better, and more fun.

However, now that I was in charge of a mud pit, I wanted a MUD pit, not just a muddy water pit. The whole idea of the mud pit is that the racers have to get dirty, and not just a little dirty. I wanted them to get muddy. So we did 3 things a little different.

First, Freddy brought in over two tons of topsoil. You would not believe how much dirt kids track out of the yard.

Second, He Roto-tilled the track of dirt to a foot in depth – we want them to get dirty, not to drown.

And finally, this was the most important part, we had a team “grape mash” the mud until it had the consistency of cake batter.


Master Mud MixersMaster Mud Mixers 

Freddy did the really hard work, hauling in dirt and tilling, but that last step transformed the pit into a truly awesome concoction of body clinging brown goo. As the Stompers worked their way through the pit they mix it with their feet asking for more water here, more dirt there, and a team member with a shovel would add more topsoil or someone else with the hose would spray an area until they worked it into a thick, viscous soup.

The final effect was nothing short of spectacular. We have 180 kids crawl, flop, and swim through our chocolate lagoon. Of course, if you are going to do this you will need obstacles that force the mudders to crawl under and over — forcing them to cope with the mud. It helps to have safe dry places for parents to watch and take pictures. And finally you will want to direct your contestants to a shower / hose of some sort before they attempt to set foot inside anything you hope to keep clean (like your house or your car). But don’t be afraid to let them enjoy the experience of being muddy for a while. It doesn’t hurt to have the showers be a short hike away.

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