Throwing Shade

What happens when an obese man signs up for a beach obstacle course

Justin Mitchell climbs over a pole at Battle on Buffett Beach on Dec. 3.
Justin Mitchell climbs over a pole at Battle on Buffett Beach on Dec. 3.

It wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t five minutes late for my heat.

I was nervous — I ate like crap the night before and didn’t sleep as well as I wanted to. How did I get myself into this mess? I thought this as a van brought me to the starting point of Battle on Buffett Beach.

The nearly three-mile obstacle course in the sand on Pascagoula was going to be treacherous. It would be harder than classes at Crossfit. It would be harder than not eating fast food for a month. It would certainly be harder than biting my tongue to all of my relatives who post fake news articles on social media.

And I was already late. Crap.

I jumped out of the van, leaving my boyfriend behind and ran to the starting point.

What a great start, I thought. I was five minutes behind everyone else, and I was already in the last heat. I was going to finish last.

The first quarter of a mile was not bad, though. I thought, “I can do this. I can do this.” Then came the first obstacle — the tire run.

Step inside of the tires or on top of them, the coach at the obstacle said.

Naturally, my left foot went in the tire and my right foot stayed on the edges. Because why wouldn’t I want to bust my butt in the first minute of the course?

Next was the first of what felt like 50 moats full of ice cold water, then a sand hill, then ice cold water again. I suggest taking cold showers every day for a month to prepare for the chilliness of beach water in December.

Then there were the poles I had to jump over. How in the hell am I going to get this 260-pound body over all eight of these poles”

I had to do this, I thought to myself. If Kerri Strug could sprain her ankle while landing a vault jump, I could climb over some light poles. It wasn’t graceful, but I did it. The obstacle completion brought to you by the 1996 Olympics.

By the time I finished that second obstacle, I was ready to throw in the white towel. Stick a fork in me, and get a fork for my five-layer burrito, because I’m done.

Well, I had to the climb the rope wall. After three unsuccessful attempts, a very nice coach with a heavy Louisiana accent talked me up the wall, and he ran the rest of the course right by my side.

He told me when to stop for breaks and when to make a run for it. He identified my strengths and helped me overcome my weaknesses. It would have helped if he had a Quest Bar or a bottle of water in his backpack, but hey, I will forever be grateful for you, Mr. Louisiana.

There were log balances over the water that I failed at. There was a rope climb and another wall climb and burpees and sprints. There was a lot.

But you know what? I finished in just under an hour. I couldn’t believe it when the nice lady at the end told me my official time. I was soaking wet, covered in sand, out of breath and convinced I was going to lose a limb from flesh-eating bacteria, but I made it.

My Crossfit coaches came to cheer me on, and bae was right there, taking Snapchats of me (they weren’t flattering, trust me).

Amanda McCoy even came on her day off and snapped photos of me.

The city of Pascagoula put on an amazing event and after-party that was a complete hit, and after seeing the photos, I can’t wait to do it again next year, and you should give it a try, too.

Because if I can do it, then so can you.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @Journalism_J