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Dances With Dirt, The Original Insane Terrain Race [PHOTOS]

A lot of folks have been hopping on the Insane Running bandwagon as of late. Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Muddy Buddy come to mind and there are many others. There has been a race in Hell, Michigan that is nearly two decades old that defines Insane Terrain. Dances With Dirt. DWD is the evil brainchild of Running Fit owner Randy Step, and the main difference between his race and the Johnny Come Latelys is that DWD makes you do more running. A lot more. This year’s race is September 24th. The 100k 5-person relay has been sold out since last winter, but you can still enter as a solo runner in the 50k or 50 mile ultramarathons.

I ran my first Dances With Dirt in 2000, when I did my first 50k, and have been back many times for more. You run through everything imaginable. Briars, brambles, weeds, rivers, swamps, poison ivy, a lake, and up and down more hills than you can count. When you finish a Dances With Dirt event, you know you have done something.

Each section of the course has a colorful name like “This Sucks”, “The Stupid Lake”, “Styx The River of Death”, “Vertigo” and many others perhaps a little too colorful for this posting. In Dances With Dirt, you don’t just cross rivers, you run upstream (up a creek without a paddle?). You run through a lake for nearly half a mile, which comes conveniently after a mud pit that might just be up to your eyeballs. The DWD website is very entertaining reading. It opens with “Welcome to the dark side of running. Weak, wimpy treadmill running pansies who are afraid to get dirt in their shorts need not apply.” Due to the popularity of DWD, they have expanded to places like Gnaw Bone, Indiana (there really is a Gnaw Bone, Indiana), Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin and Green Swamp (Dade City) Florida. The race t-shirt given to participants features part of the waiver that each must sign (see photo).

If you are really up for a challenge, you should experience Dances With Dirt. It will leave you muddy, bloody, worn out and probably suffering from some kind of rash. Bee stings, snake bites, scrapes and contusions are all possible and don’t cost extra. Who wouldn’t want to pay good money for all that?

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