Mud, creeks, Native American fail to break runners’ spirits

There are many ways to have a fun, dirty time that leaves you wet and tired. An opportunity to do so came on Saturday, November 17 during the Living History Farms Race, and many wise Ames High students chose to take it. The seven-mile racecourse twisted and turned through the trails of the Living History Farms, located in Urbandale. With around 7,000 participants this year, it remains the biggest cross-country race in North America to date. Friends of all ages got together, got crazy, and got down to business. For some, this was the racing event of the year. Seeing a group of bumblebees, superheroes or grown men dressed in diapers was both encouraged and guaranteed. Senior Kayla Becraft prepared well and chose her apparel carefully. She brought out her true jungle spirit with a tiara and leopard print tights. Her pride diminished, however, when she spotted a man wearing a loincloth, equipped with a spear and traditional jewelry to resemble a Native American. Slightly limping because he was barefoot, it was difficult for Becraft not to be drawn to a man so brave and indigenous. “Don’t your feet hurt?” she questioned him. “Well, don’t your shoes hurt?” he rebutted, which was the end of that conversation. Senior Lindsey Niehm faced some unfortunate obstacles in her path. “I slid down the mud going into the river and a guy fell on me when I was coming out,” she said. “A big guy.” Participants crossing the creek rarely knew how deep it would be or what kind of surface was underneath. Stepping down into the muddy waters was oftentimes a surprise – one could sink down to waist level, making the maneuver a difficult task. Staggering up and out involved arm action, resulting in some pretty dirty hands, and in some cases, faces. The last stretch lacked any physical barriers, but included several fairly steep hills that may have caught an amateur off guard, as well as out of breath. Feet soaked, weighing about ten pounds heavier than usual, the main focus was on finishing strong and proud. The first place prize was a turkey. This journey of endurance was worth much more and has little to do with the material award, though. Competitors climbed countless ramparts, forded muddy rivers, and clung to ropes for their lives. Completion of this strenuous course in itself is one of life’s major accomplishments. The hardest part? “Seeing the sixth mile mark,” senior Magon Liu said. “The uphills and downhills were pretty brutal.” Sharp thorns scraped some, others belly flopped into the cold water. Most lived, though. Time was not important; what mattered most were the people that helped each other get through the race. Without encouragement, hope, and friendship, a race like this could not have been completed. If you endured the Living History Farms Race together, you know there aren’t any other hardships you cannot overcome.