What do you picture when you read the words, Valentine’s Day date? Do you see a candlelit dinner? The tunnel of love? Wine tasting? An afternoon on a gondola? The runners behind Portland’s My Muddy Valentine race would like to submit another option for your consideration: five kilometres of outdoor racetracks and obstacle courses, covered in a healthy layer of rich, thick, Pacific Northwest mud.
“It’s not the cliche Valentine’s Day idea,” said Molly Meiergerd, one of My Muddy Valentine’s event organizers. “It’s kind of a fun, adventurous date idea.”
For the last several years, lovers, runners and lovers of running have seemed to share Meiergerd’s perspective, and have congregated at the My Muddy Valentine’s race course at Lee Farms to run, jump, slip and slide in the mud, either on their own or with loved ones or friends.
At the risk of sounding punny, it’s safe to say that there’s something down-to-earth about running through the mud with a partner or significant other in tow.
Meiergerd described it as like a return to the glory days of childhood.
“It’s kind of nostalgic, in a little kid-like way,” she said. “So I kind of call it like an adult version of that. It’s so fun to just be careless and stomp through the mud.”
Out on the course, lovers are free to run hand-in-hand and uninhibited as they traverse the slippery slopes of the terrain, without having to hold back for fear of getting dirty.
Besides being a lighthearted excuse to let go, the mud run is also a fun challenge for racers to tackle on Valentine’s weekend, whether it is as a team or solo.
“It’s always really satisfying and fun to accomplish something, and have fun doing it,” Meiergerd said.
While the obstacles certainly aren’t a cakewalk, Meiergerd was careful to emphasize that the difficulty level is placed so that determined people at most levels will be able to do it.
“It’s not just for very intense, Spartan-like people,” Meiergerd said. “We do have an elite wave that goes first if you are a little bit more on the competitive side…but I’ve seen every shape and size and age do this event, which is really cool to see.”
The event doesn’t stop at the finish line, however. After the run, tired and muddy runners can congregate at Lee Farm’s open event area, where they can expect a party waiting there for them.
“All of our races have that fun aspect, for that post-race party,” Meiergerd said. “You can have some free beer or cider afterwards and enjoy some live music.”
Add post-race camaraderie and a runner’s high to the mix and muddy Valentine’s couples can expect a lively after-party.
The My Muddy Valentine’s race has been running out of Lee Farm’s on an annual basis for at least half a decade as of 2022. Funnily enough, the event started out as a clever pun between two friends.
“I had a running buddy named Kyle, who is a pretty creative guy,” stated the event’s founder Aaron Montaglione. “We would do a lot of trail running together. We were up in Wildwood [Forest Park] one day and he said, ‘you should do a mud run called My Muddy Valentine based on My Bloody Valentine the movie.’”
The idea stuck like glue—or mud—and after a few years of percolating in Montagione’s head, he finally pulled the trigger and set up the race in Tualatin.
Now, years later, the race stands slightly apart from the usual gamut of traditional Valentine’s Day activities, offering an experience for slightly outside-the-box couples who aren’t afraid to get a little dirty this year.