I decided to bring a camera along for the ride/race, even though I knew how muddy the course was going to be. However, I had decent legs and was feeling about as competitive as I get so I never stopped, and therefore never took any pics.
For a taste, though, I will defer you to a local reporter's experience here and here. You can see that there was a lot of mud to cope with.
I was very happy to get started after the long wait. My extremities were cold and I was fearing some kind of hypothermia even before I began. However, once we got underway I warmed up enough that this was no longer an issue.
In the start gate I was beside an older gentleman who had done this race a few times before and he gave me some very useful tips. One in particular was to carry my bicycle through the deepest mud and the mud chutes.
Here are some notable points in the ride.
10k - this is when I made my first actual "move" to get by some slower folks. I was surprised at how tired I was after this push and kind of regretted it afterward.
15k - On a paved country road with no cars in sight (i.e. one of the best and safest places on the whole course) I saw a fellow about my age pull up next to a young woman. They were about 100' ahead of me and traveling as fast as the rest of us. The guy must have known the girl because he pulled up close to her left and tried to, I think jokingly, surprise her. Then I looked in horror as he reached over and I saw him put his right hand on her handlebars. With nowhere to go to her left, and maintain her balance, she screamed and went down hard (they both did). But the girl did an endo. I narrowly avoided them, and another guy who slammed on his brakes right in front of me to help. I guess I was not so altruistic, and kept on racing, but as I looked back I could see the girl writhing on the asphalt holding her arm. I am sure she broke her collarbone. The guy who took her down must feel absolutely awful.
25k - In about 8" of toothpaste-like mud I took my first and worst fall. My bike came out from under me so fast that I couldn't get a hand out. At least I probably saved myself from breaking my own collarbone. Instead I landed on my head. Yup. I slammed my head into the turf pretty hard. Fortunately, although dazed and confused, I did not hit any rocks. I hate to think what could have happened to my melon if I had hit a rock or even a log.
This is also where my front canti was destroyed. After a quick assessment I realized I could either continue mohawk-style (one brake) or quit. Of course I went on. Brakes are overrated (I hoped).
Although another guy went down right beside me, it was single bike accident brought about by the difficulty to steer.
30k - They have a pit-stop at this, the halfway point. I had shaken off the cobwebs and was actually feeling quite strong. A volunteer handed me a banana and I never hesitated. A small victory, I thought, not stopping like so many others.
Part III, my final report, tomorrow.