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Mud, Miles, and Munchkins: Never Doing This Again

lmcgarraughartIt was a very hot Texas day over one year ago, and it would be my first night race. I had just started running trail races and I thought this race would be fun. I asked my husband if he thought the girls would enjoy camping and for some strange reason he thought it was a good idea. So we packed everything up, got the food together and head off to Austin.

Morgan (who is now three) was and still is good in the car. She likes looking outside, sleeping, listening to the radio or reading a book. Milena (who is now two), not so much.

Our first few road trips were the most stressful trips I have ever taken. When Milena is done with the car…she is done! She screams until we stop and she is out of the car seat. Then when we get to where we are going she will not sleep. Jason and I can’t do anything to sooth her. So we take turns sitting up with her. All the while Morgan is sound asleep. She has since gotten better, however on this frightful night Milena was no different.


We arrive early at the camp ground and I help Jason put up the tent. The girls were just wandering around the camp site and watching other people. I was starting to relax. We went and picked up my packet and for some reason Jason told Morgan “no” and uncharacteristically she completely melted down. The whole packet pick up area sat and stared. I was mortified because I was part of “that” family. I am sure people were wondering why we brought two young children to a night race and at that point I was beginning to think the same thing.

The start of the race went right past our camp site, so Jason took the girls back to watch as I lined up. The deal was if the girls were still up, he would meet me at the start/finish for the start of the second loop. However if the girls were sleeping he would be with them.

The race began and we all ran past the camp site. Morgan thought that she was going to run with me, so she took off running when she saw me. I had to stop, take a screaming two year old back to the tent and continue on. I came around for the second loop and Jason was nowhere in sight, so I relaxed and thought he got them to sleep.

I finished the race, grabbed my medal, food, and headed back to the camp site. Morgan was fast asleep and Milena was sleeping at the moment. Jason and I enjoyed about 10 minutes of peace as I shared my hamburger with him while he helped clean me up.

I was ready for bed and crawled into the tent.

Milena must know my smell or felt my presence because she stood straight up in the tent and started to cry. I was nursing at the time, so I figured she was hungry. We laid down and I hoped she would fall right back to sleep. Well I thought wrong. She started to scream and wouldn’t sleep.

After about an hour and half of fighting with her and not wanting to keep everyone around us awake we decided to call it quits. We left the camp ground at around 2:30 in the morning. My husband drove us to Buccee’s in Bastrop and said he couldn’t go any longer. We parked and closed our eyes for about an hour. I got up, bought coffee and took over the driving duties for the rest of the trip.

We finally got home around 6:00am. I got a shower and the first nap. It was over. I can finally relax.

After this trip we thought – no more. We would either get a sitter or I would travel to races alone.

Well, like ultrarunning you forget how horrible your last race was until you do it again. This past July, we brought our girls to another one of my races. This time we got a hotel with a pool and I took a cab to the start line, so the girls could sleep in. My husband didn’t time their arrival properly and got to the race too early. It was so bad a gentleman took pity on Jason and gave him a beer at 10:00am.

Let’s just say we are not taking our girls to any more races…until next year.

– Liz McGarraugh

[Photo credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann @]

Dave: While I love to see families at trail races, sometimes things don’t quite go as we envision. Been there!

What is one of your top ugh! family moments at a trail race? Hey, we can laugh about it now, right! 🙂

Also, for the bring-the-family veterans, what strategies have worked for you? Any tips?

About the author

Liz McGarraugh Liz McGarraugh began her ultra running journey as a bet with Jason when Milena was four months old. Jason told her they could talk about having a third child after she completed a 50 mile race. In October of 2013, she completed Palo Duro and decided, for the moment, ultra running will be her third baby. Liz’s journey has taken her from pounding out the miles and building her base, to learning and understanding the finer points of training, health and technique. As all Mother Runners know, life does not always abide by your training schedule.

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