For some of you, the Hagg Mud Run is a yearly ritual. You know what to expect, you’ve been there, and you’ve got the scars to prove it.
For this guy, Hagg was a new adventure; with trails I’d never touched; with a mythical course I’d only heard stories about; with mud that would supposedly haunt my dreams for weeks. I’d planned to run the double in 2020, but tendinitis kept me from it. Last year the race was cancelled due to COVID. This year was my chance to get out there and battle the elements. And so, I mentally prepared for the slop.
The night before the race, I tossed a roll of duct tape in the car so I could make sure my shoes didn’t get sucked off my feet. I’d bought a new thing of baby wipes, and had extra towels so I could attempt to clean off a little before driving home. I threw my rain jacket into my pack, an extra pair of gloves, and even a 3rd pair of socks. I prepared for the worst.
As I neared the lake, in the dark, on Saturday morning, I drove through some dense fog. Part of me wondered how that might affect things, as fog could keep the temps down, or bring in the rain. Regardless, I pulled into the parking lot and began my pre-race mental gymnastics. Soon enough I was ready to go and made my way toward the start line.
The race starts by sending runners around the parking lot, which is meant to help spread us out before hitting the single track trail. Once on the trail, I expected mushier conditions, but within a short distance, runners were all speaking positively as to how dry it was.
After an out and back up a gravel road, we were making our way around the lake on that sweet trail, and wouldn’t you know it? No mud. No, seriously. With only a couple of minor exceptions, the entire loop was fairly dry, making for very runnable and darn near perfect trails. And while it stayed rather cool (33 degrees to start, 39 at the finish), it never rained, the fog lifted before we began, and the sun even made the briefest of appearances!
While it’s true that the race itself didn’t make for much news, there were definitely a couple of very big happenings this past weekend. On Friday, all entrants got an email letting us know that Karen, Laurie and Teri were stepping out as race directors. In the pre-race briefing, Karen spoke with great emotion about her love for the event, and her reasons for stepping away, which involved personal family matters. Anyone there that day surely picked up on how hard this was for Karen and Laurie, in that moment. And yet, with grace and dignity, Karen announced the new race directors, who were also there, and helping with race day execution.
Following the race, I had a chance to hug Karen, and then talk to her a little about the last 7 years. This year represented the 20th running of the Hagg Mud Run events, and in the years that Karen and her team have been running things, this was one of their biggest years ever. Karen believes it had a lot to do with pent up energy by runners who just wanted to get out there and race, but either way, entries were up more than 20% over 2020!
I also enjoyed a chance to chat with the top two finishers, enjoy some yummy soup and grill cheese sandwiches, and suck down a little coffee in my cool new mug, before hitting the road home.
It was definitely a fun day out there, full of amazing volunteers, surprisingly good running conditions, and the community I refer to as my family. If you have yet to experience Hagg Mud Runs, put it on your calendar for next year. And while the race directors may be new, the vibe will be as iconic as ever.
Hagg Mud Runs is a part of the Oregon Road Runners Club, the second oldest and largest Oregon running club. For full race results, check out Huber Timing. To save next year’s registration page, go to UltraSignup.