VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Aug 13, 2011) A runner navigates an obstacle during the 11th annual Armed Services YMCA Mud Run at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. The Mud Run is an 8-kilometer event on the base. All proceeds from the race benefit the Armed Services YMCA of Hampton Roads. (U.S. Navy photo by Robin Hicks/Released)
Originally appeared in Issue 3, published April 14, 2015
by columnist Katie Wheeler
There is a saying that April showers bring May flowers. You know what else April showers bring? Mud. And, perhaps more importantly, it’s FINALLY warm enough to play outside in that mud!
I played softball from the time I could hold a bat, all the way through high school, and one of my favorite memories of the sport comes from this time of year. We would have games cancelled all the time due to rain. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for our parents’ washing machines, we could still have sliding practice. We would run bases and
dive feet first, sideways, head first—whichever way was the most fun—straight into the huge mud puddle that always collected over home plate. I’m pretty sure the ONLY reason our parents didn’t make us walk our mud-caked selves home is because they knew that we were having the time of our lives out there.
It’s the same kind of uninhibited fun outside that makes me love trail running so much this time of year. We are so fortunate in Akron to be surrounded by amazing park systems that have a huge selection of places to make the best of the rain and play in the mud.
We have trails that take you to spectacular waterfalls, through covered bridges, on top of ledges and up and down hills so big you’d swear that Akron had mountains. Trails range from primitive and difficult to easy access areas that allow for wheel chairs and strollers. From the flatter towpath trails to the most difficult trails in the area like Mingo and Hampton Hills, the Cuyahoga Valley National Parks and the Summit Metro Parks allow for any experience you could look for.
I don’t really play softball anymore, but I DO have trail running shoes. These shoes are defined by the stores as having more support and “grippy” soles, but I’m convinced that they also have the power to find even the most obscure puddle and lead my feet splashing into it. In these shoes I don’t care if my legs are wet and muddy up to my knee caps, I don’t care if my own washing machine now pays the price for the aftermath.
All I really care about is capturing a little bit of that feeling I had as a kid sliding head first into a mud puddle on home plate.