Meanwhile, the endurance-racing world underwent a metamorphosis. It all began in 1989, when Frenchman Gerard Fusil launched his grueling Raid Gauloises. The unique event combined outdoor adventure with team dynamics. The inaugural competition saw 26 5-person squads - each containing at least one woman - race from one side of New Zealand to the other via foot, horseback, and whitewater raft. Just 16 of the teams finished.
Over the next decade, hundreds of Raid-style events cropped up around the world (America's version, the Eco-Challenge, was begun in 1995). But length and degree of difficulty limited the sport's growth. Few weekend warriors had the time or inclination to travel halfway around the world for 10 days of being cold, wet, tired, hungry, and miserable.
The solution was the one-hour adventure races that are currently in vogue. Foremost among them is the Muddy Buddy, a mountain biking and running race for teams of two that takes place in several cities across the country. In it, teammates share a single bike and alternate running and riding over a 10-kilometer course. Obstacles such as the eponymous low-crawl through the man-made mud pit are interspersed throughout.
"Anyone with a base level of fitness can get out there," explains event mastermind Bob Babbitt, a man fond of showing up at races in a skintight green frog costume. "You get muddy, you get an adventure, you get a workout, you go home - all before noon."
Now, in the name of my career, I have enjoyed a few adventures: the Raid, a supersonic flight around the world, six weeks on Survivor island. I'm game for anything. So when I heard about Muddy Buddy, I was intrigued. But was I adventurous enough - okay, mature enough, secure enough, selfless enough, take your pick - to race with Calene? And really, was asking her to low-crawl through rude black muck the best way to express my love?