Yesterday morning I headed over to the Seaside Three Course Challenge, which is a giant cross country meet featuring a ton of high schools from both Washington and Oregon. It was a good opportunity to get pix of both the schools we cover, but more than that it was an opportunity to shoot the famed mud pit along the harder two courses.
I had remembered a few years back seeing a pic by Oregonian photojournalist Bruce Ely of a cross country runner falling into the mud (though I did not know until a couple days ago that it was from this race). We also ran a photo of an Ilwaco runner covered in mud last year after a parent sent it in. I pretty much made my plans then and there that I had to make it this year.
Ness was busy, so I had to take Wyse with me — I think this is the first time I've taken him on an assignment with me. I packed him on my back, and let me tell you after two hours and hiking two-plus miles (I got some bad directions as to where the pit was on the trail) I was pretty well beat — but it was soooooo worth it.
I guess in years past they have filled the pit with water right before the race. This year they didn't. But I think that may have helped encourage the kids to go a little nuts with it, as many chose to take flying leaps into the mud, others running by would grab handfuls of the stuff and slap it on their face as they continued on. Shoes having to be pulled out after getting stuck was a common practice too.
Many of the runners in previous races came down to watch the final run. But after the last of the runners had past the mood changed and the cross country meet turned into a mud wrestling brawl....
Me and Wyse were both pretty well covered in mud by the end, but it was all good. My one regret (other than the fact that none of the kids from the two schools I was there to cover really got into the pit, choosing rather to run along the edges) is that I did not think to get a pic of me, covered in mud, with him on my back. I guess I just get so tuned into to what I'm shooting that I don't really think of myself too much. All in all though, a pretty killer way to spend an afternoon.