Race Recap: Paul Bunyan Extreme 5k

Friday night I got a text message from a family friend asking if I was participating in the Paul Bunyan Extreme 5k, and I was happy! I hadn’t registered because I hadn’t found any friends who wanted to commit to the race. Also, I didn’t want to commit because I’ve been racing so much, and kind of been losing steam. However after watching the trial run reports come in (the benefits of a race being local) I was more and more curious. Since I planned on working out in Nisswa Saturday morning. I was already thinking about heading over to the course to see what it was all about.

Saturday morning after taking sculpt and spin classes I looked like this.

Yoga Sculpt and Spin = Tired!And I still thought it would be fun to try the Paul Bunyan Extreme 5k!

I got to the course and hurried to sign up for the 11:30 corral. I wasn’t thrilled to pay the race day registration price of $70 (pre-registration would have been $50 with a tshirt), and they didn’t order extra shirts for those of us who were late to sign up.

Since we had an hour to spare we decided to get a before picture at the final obstacle (which was Paul Bunyan’s Shoe!).

Before Paul Bunyan Extreme 5kClean, Happy, Ready to Race!

We were able to watch the 11 am group leave the corral and then I started to realize just how tough the course was going to be. The first obstacle was right away and involved lots of mud and water. They had dug different levels so the water was 2, 4, or 8 feet deep with no warning when it would change depth. It required some swimming and some climbing over mud hills before swimming again.

Once I was done with the first obstacle, I really wanted to turn around and be done. Although I did realize that was probably the best practice I could get for what its like to swim in a triathlon without actually swimming in a triathlon.

Paul Bunyan Extreme 5k MapPlease note the ridiculous amount of space between obstacle #1 and #2. Also anytime the arrows point up, realize that it is straight up a ski slope! I didn’t have a heart rate monitor on, but I don’t think I’d want to see the data. It hurt!

At first I was very concerned with safety. I wasn’t feeling good, and I didn’t see anyone around that could help if something went wrong. I was shocked that there weren’t any water stops (at first) and then I realized it probably wasn’t a mile in, I really should have looked at the map before I signed up so I knew what I was getting myself into!

It ended up that there were volunteers at every obstacle, and there were some ATVs driving around the course.

I don’t have a waterproof camera, and even if I had it, I’m not sure I would have brought it along, so there are no other pictures that I have of the course. But I will say that each obstacle was challenging, if you click on the above map it will bring you to the list of each obstacle.

The Slip and Slide deserves a special comment because I was very scared I had hurt someone as I came down. The volunteer at the top of the slide didn’t tell me when I could go, so I waited until the girl in front of me was a good ways down and then went down myself. The end of the slip and slide ended in the water similar to a waterpark. I ended up landing almost on top of the person who went ahead of me. I was so afraid I had actually landed on her that I popped out of the water screaming. It turns out it was okay, she had seen me coming and swam out of the way, but still very scary!!!

We attempted each and every obstacle, although we didn’t necessarily complete them all. My upper body strength still isn’t where it should/could be. If I had two friends of similar strength we probably could have gotten up and over all of the obstacles. But on my own, it wasn’t going to happen.

The course took us about an hour (official times should be in soon!) And I survived!

Paul Bunyan Extreme 5k After

I was still smiling, however I was tired!!! Also for clothing I have the following suggestions.

Shoes and Socks: old! I wore my oldest pair of running shoes and threw them away after I was done. If I owned 5 fingers or viabrams, I would have worn them. My shoes are large on me (as recommend for distance running) but that meant there was extra room for water and mud, making it much harder to move my feet!

Bottoms: I was glad I had capris on! It saved my legs from getting beat up. Also, I wouldn’t wear anything with a drawstring, you may end up mooning someone!

Top: I wore a shorts bra and a tech tshirt that I don’t really like. I should have worn the tight nike tanktop I have with the built in sports bra, or else 2 sports bras. The shirt bagged out and was very difficult to swim in.

Accessories: NONE! This is not a race where a watch is going to do you any good. Thankfully it was overcast, so the sun wasn’t an issue and I didn’t think about hats or sunglasses, they wouldn’t have worked either.

Hair: Pulled back as much as possible. If you have long hair, I would recommend putting your hair in a ponytail and then braiding the pony tail to minimize any possible issues.

Will I do this again? Maybe… I wouldn’t do race day registration again. Paying an extra $20 to get less than what other people got is pretty dumb to me. At $50 this isn’t a race I would sign up for by myself. But if a group of friends wanted to do it, I would maybe try it again.

A friend who also completed the course has done the Warrior Dash and thought these obstacles were more extreme (which surprised me!)

Paul Bunyan Extreme 5k ShoesI did receive a medal (and an unpictured can coozie). And my soreness was extreme on Sunday as well as today (Monday).

Have you completed an obstacle course 5k? What do you think about race day registration?



  1. Awesome!!! I really envy that you were able to do this and find people to do it with you! I’ve wanted to try but I feel that doing it alone would sorta suck! Unfortunately, I have yet to find some friends who are willing to get a little dirty 😉

    1. I definitely wouldn’t do it alone. However, because its an obstacle course, a lot of people who aren’t runners tend to be interested. I almost didn’t have a buddy, it came down to the night before. So just keep asking people and you might be surprised!

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