Z Mud Run NJ-Bagels, Yogurt, Chocolate Milk… And Mud

I went into the Z Mud Run with minimal background on the event itself. Turns out minimal background translates to minimal expectations. Whatever expectations I had pulling up to the event were blown away and then some. Here’s what I knew about the event based off a friend’s experience during last years Zmudrun and a brief glance at their website prior to race day.

  • All net proceeds go to a charity called “The Happy Home”. As per the website here’s the info on the cause…“The Happy Home” is  a growing orphanage that was started in southern India to care for children with HIV/AIDS  who have lost their parents and been abandoned by their extended families and in some cases left on the hospital’s doorstep.
  • Free onsite parking
  • Free bag check
  • Mud
  • Water

As for my experience itself, if you’ve glanced at my previous reviews, you know I’m a major advocate for having fun while competing. To me, fun is mud; fun is water; fun is all the things this sport allows us to do that we did as kids without a care in the world. I don’t need technical terrain. I don’t need intense, challenging obstacles(though that doesn’t hurt). I don’t need to feel I’m better than anyone based on placement. I need fun and fun was certainly provided on this day.

Zmudrun-Mud-Crawl Photo Credit:  Mathew Renk Photography

The first wave was filled with participants of all ages, from teens to middle aged. There were no egos, no brand promoting temp tats or supplement logoed headbands. There was laughing, smiling and the expectation of fun on every face in the wave. The race started after the national anthem. We headed off onto a straightaway stretch of grass that moments later lead you to a creek with water that came just above my knees. That was just the beginning of the days fun.

The obstacles were basic, but the course was loyal to the term “Mud Run”. There was multiple water crossings, one which required traversing over floating boards. Followed by a trek through waist deep water that had an unassuming amount of mud beneath the surface. So much so that you literally had to use your hands to lift each leg, step by step, if you didn’t move along at a brisk pace. The level of fun during this section was infectious. People falling into the mud left and right, causing laughter from those around, with a helping hand always stretched out.

Zmudrun-Mud-Pit Photo Credit: Mathew Renk Photography

After you made your way out of the water and back onto dry land you were led around the outside of a corn field. The transition of terrain was very much welcomed compared to an open view of a course that I often experience at events. A little side note, there was roughly 7 water stations throughout the 5k course that offered Gatorade or water. It was unheard of to be approaching a water station around nearly every turn, but awesome nonetheless.

As far as obstacles go, it was mostly terrain related with water and mud, short of a cement block drag through sand. One massive mud hill had a rope to assist in the climb but not before, you guessed it, a water/mud pit at the base of the hill. Several hay bale climbs, wall climb that provided three options for completion(tall wall-no assist, medium wall with foot supports and medium inclined wall with rope assist) and one of my event favorites, a water slide.

Zmudrun-Final-Obstacle-Part-1

One of the most welcoming aspects was the energetic, enthusiastic environment of the festival area where the finish line was located. After navigating the walls and water slide you come around a corner to see the final, fun-filled obstacle. You climb a small hill that leads you into water. Navigate through a tube crawl that allows just enough space for your neck up to be above water. After exiting the tube you crawl under a net, still submerged in water on your knees to another small mud mound to the finish.

Zmudrun-Final-Obstacle-Part-2

The event is untimed and not competitive, but the crowd an event like this attracted was so excited, they cheered me on and let me know I was the 2nd finisher to come through. The emcee was feeding off the crowds energy,so much so, he gathered the top three finishers to pose for pics at the top of the final mud mound. An energy level for self accomplishment I don’t often experience at non-competitive events.

After finishing and composing myself while standing with a friend, another racer approached us with a huge smile on his face. He wanted to congratulate us on our race and proceeded to inform us, this was his first race and he had so much fun, he “couldn’t wait to do another one”. That moment right there is what I hope for at every event and gives me hope for the future of the sport. But wait, there’s more!

Zmudrun-Refreshments

As I approached the post race refreshment table for my water and banana, something caught my eye. Something…. Amazing… Something … Rare… Something unheard of…. It… Was…. Beautiful….. Bags and bags of bagels, pastries, gummy fruit snacks, varying flavors and brands of yogurts of the regular and Greek options. I was beside myself with joy. Not expecting anything to top this moment ….something marvelous happened… an angelic looking woman sought my attention… and she said to me… “We have chocolate milk over here… Follow me” …. And I did . Fast forward three cups of glorious chocolate milk later, I made my way to the stand up showers that actually had water pressure.

Zmudrun-Kids-Race

The kids race was well organized with fun obstacles for varying ages and enjoyed by all, evidenced by the sheer joy on the faces of the miniature athletes. The course was filled with families and large groups of friends. An event capable of catering to a broad range of athletes. Serving as a good reminder to the experienced athlete why we love the sport that affords us the opportunity to be a kid again

Z Mud Run had everything I look for in an event, and some things I never thought to look for.
Let us recap….

  • Free Parking
  • Free Bag Check
  • Great volunteers
  • Abundance of water stations
  • Mud
  • Family friendly
  • Water
  • Chocolate milk
  • Bagels
  • Above average medal
  • Chocolate milk
  • Mud
  • Chocolate milk

I certainly will be adding this to my 2017 race schedule when they announce next year’s event………………

Zmudrun-Potty
Last but not least…. They had some high quality crappers. Adequate amount for total participants and excellent level of cleanliness
💩💩💩💩 out 5…….Battlefrog would be proud (R.I.P.)

Terrain Race New Jersey – Crash and Burn At Raceway Park

Terrain Race, a west coast based race was to be held to high standards with equally high expectations. That comes with the territory when you host an event at a venue previously used by the top brands in the sport such as Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac and Battlefrog to name a few. Regardless of how hard you attempt to look at each as a separate entity, you always compare. I’m probably one of the easiest in the sport to please as I race to have fun, and I usually find a way to do so with every event. So, when I say this event was a letdown, the optimist in me wants to reference “you get what you pay for”.

The standard open wave registration cost for the race was $25 for the 5K and $30 for the 10k. Currently, their upcoming New York event (it’s at Aviator, worst venue in OCR…you’ve been warned) is priced at $20/$25 for 5k/10k. That’s cheap…. I mean… dirt cheap… You can’t get a Groupon or Living Social Warrior Dash for that price. With that price point, I truly emphasize, “you get what you pay for”.

Parking for all races at the Raceway Park venue is the same: a short walk to registration and the start line. 95% of the time for Raceway Park you don’t need bag check, but if you felt compelled, it was free with registration. Walking up to registration you expect the usual corral of bib number or last name lines along with a paper waiver table. The table with waivers was there, but on this day, I missed the standard registration lines. Terrain’s setup was one line, which led you to 4 tables set up to check-in one person at a time (totaling 4 racers checking in at one time).  Needless to say, the line got backed up.

After checking in, you work your way to the festival area, which was in the same vicinity of the venue for all races held in this location. For previous events the festival area has had bull riding, sand bag toss, rock wall, inflated slides for kids, even inflatable sumo body suits. On this day it was open grass with participants wandering throughout.  Their one engaging attraction was a small rig that was used for spectator area photo ops.  The one event I opt to have my 4 and 6 year old kids run and they’d be stuck waiting for me to complete a quick lap after they ran the kids race, with nothing to do. I never concern myself with festival areas as I normally run, and start my long trek home. On this day I took notice, and it was sorely lacking from what you become accustomed to, not just at this venue but most.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Festival-Area

As I previously stated, I’m very easy to please on overall event satisfaction. I don’t need intense terrain, challenging obstacles,perfect weather, water stations, rule enforcement…. None of that appeals to my interest in the sport. I’m all about fun and that’s fairly easy to provide. Give me mud, water and decent obstacle selection. I don’t differentiate between good and bad, because ultimately most races offer you something unique. Give me something different, that I don’t experience every week, and I’m happy. The race started off with just that.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Start-Line

You enter the start area and immediately choose between two, 4-ft deep pools of water to jump into. Hop out the other side and you’re ready to get started. This was awesome, as it was different. Then came the disappointment, the race itself. The word I got was that the 10k course had an additional 10+ obstacles over what the 5k course contained. Afterwards, I really wished I had run the 10k option. It felt like a race that would’ve been better served placing all obstacles in a 5k course and utilizing 2-5k laps to encompass their 10k option as many races do.

The 5k course followed the path of all other events held at this venue. Off the pavement and onto the motocross dirt path we went. I won’t elaborate on detailed obstacle placement as it would bore you as it did me. To sum it up, you run, crawl a little, climb a wall, crawl again, run, climb a cargo net, run more, find a random set of straight horizontal monkey bars off in a field, run some more, climb another wall, then came what was deemed the best(and only real 5k) obstacle on the course.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Rig

Climb up to the top of the first of two pools of water. Select a lane which each contained a wooden beam that travels the distance of the first tub. The beam had alternating rock climbing grips evenly spaced on each side. After traversing the distance of the first pool, you had to reach for hanging grips of different shapes and sizes. With no foot platforms to assist in transitioning from stationary rock grips to hanging grips, this obstacle proved too much for many including a large percentage of the elite heat. It was odd going from extremely basic obstacles to one as challenging as this, but, it was different nonetheless and a change that I welcomed.

After the rig setup over water, you made your way to the finish line to collect, what is easily one of the top medals in OCR. A large monkey face that spins within a circle, with varying medals signifying 5k and 10k. For a small fee, there was a multi-lap option that provided racers with a pin for each lap completed that could be placed on their medal ribbon. Compared to unfair expectations set by previous brands, this was a major letdown in living up to my generally easily attainable standards.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Medal

Speaking to participants in the festival area many were pleased with the event as a result of running the 10k course and encountering the obstacles that were sorely missed in the 5k portion or didn’t believe they had room to complain because of the small financial cost to them compared to all other race brands. Based solely on the obstacle variety, difficulty, and terrain utilization it was closely equivalent to a Warrior Dash but not nearly as fun. For many, the medal alone was worth the $25/$30 registration fee. If I raced the brand again, I would certainly opt to try the 10k course as the 5k was sorely lacking.

P.S. The kids race was great for $20 and parents run free with paid kids registration.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Kids-Race

P.S.S. The shitter rating came in at 💩💩 out of a possible 💩💩💩💩💩.
Quantity was the issue with very few shitters for having most waves sold out prior to race day.

P.S.S.S. At the time this was written it’s been 9 days(6 business days) after the event and race photos have yet to be posted.  Most races have photos up around day 4.

*Update- pics were posted today(8/17) same day as their Minnesota event pics were posted for an event that took place 7 days after this one

BattleFrog Greater Philly – A Frog, A Mountain And 50 People Lost

I always find myself being overly critical of BattleFrog.  I think it’s because they have a lot of potential to be a big dog in the business and do good for the sport as a whole, but they always seem to shoot themselves in the foot with senseless, easily avoidable mistakes that call their competence into question.  They’re so close to making the next step in the business but… Two steps forward, three steps backwards.  On this particular week, it started off going backwards, but I think they gained some ground… 2 backwards.. 3 forward.. They’re +1 and here’s why.

This was my first BattleFrog event of the year as my race schedule filled while they were still struggling to finalize venues.  I wasn’t planning on this event, but being a short 30-minute drive from my house, I decided to give it a go after I finished a lap of MudmanX in NY.  Four days before race day, I received the participant email from Battlefrog. I noticed they include start time and bib number front and center making it easy to locate and eliminating the need to search on their site for this info.  Waivers are signed off and agreed upon when registering online, to avoid a paper waiver, which will make the Eco-friendly athletes happy.  Then came their first step in the wrong direction which caused concern for the event itself.

Battlefrog-Philly-Parking-Change

The night before the event I received notification from their event page(which you would not receive had you not opted to follow the event page) that the parking location had changed. Extremely last minute and unlike other companies to do short of impending severe weather, which was not the case in this situation. Sure enough on event day, I saw one post stating 50 or so people were wandering aimlessly in the original parking location with no BattleFrog representation present to direct to the new location. To BattleFrogs credit, they did issue an email late Friday night, but for many, that was too little too late.

Having the new parking location, I arrived to several buses waiting to shuttle racers to the event. Parking was smooth and the shuttle was a short 5-minute ride to the venue. As soon as we pulled up, I recognized the venue immediately. It was a ski resort that was home to the “Badass Dash” Tristate event last year. I immediately knew I was in store for an interesting and possibly very fun event. During the Badass Dash, I remember thinking it would be a perfect venue for a larger race brand to hold a challenging event, and I wasn’t wrong in my previous assumption.

Battlefrog-Philly-Mountain

Registration was quick and painless, bag check was organized and it was off to the start line. When I arrived at the starting line, there was nobody in the corral; so, I assumed a wave had just departed. My buddy and I had just run the MMX event followed by a near 3-hour drive to BattleFrog so we weren’t planning to stand around. We hopped the start wall and off we went. Later I realized I had sold myself short on one of the most appealing attractions of a BattleFrog (or any OCR start line) – the Coach Pain pre-race speech.

The race started and up the mountain we went. The first thing I noticed, and that concerned me, was lots of course markers going up and down the center of the mountain. Right away that had me thinking I was in store for a lot of tedious and boring up and back to fill space and meet the advertised distance. I was very pleased to find out I was, in fact, wrong in that assumption. Towards the top of the first peak the course veered off.

Battlefrog-Philly-Inverted-Wall

At each peak, there was some type of wall to climb. This was my first experience with BattleFrog since they implemented the 3-scaled difficulty options. Having only run the open heat, I must say I enjoyed the options. It provided me with essentially 3 different obstacles at each obstacle location. I took full advantage of this by doing the “elite”, followed by “intermediate” difficulties. For some obstacles, I didn’t notice a difference between the 3 when it came to open heats. The over/under/through walls and monkey bars, for example, were all the same setup at the time I arrived. It very well could’ve had different instructed rules during the earlier heats (please comment any difficulty variances you encountered for those two) but was essentially unchanged for each difficultly level.

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The course had a nice balance of obstacles to appease the Spartan loyalists while staying true to the Frog faithful. The terrain was labeled by many, one of the tougher courses/venues they’ve done. Two separate carries (water jug, wreck bag) would satisfy the “carry heavy shit” Spartan regulars, while still having three scaled options on distance of carry and weight(water jug; wreck bags were all 50lbs).

For those accustomed to BattleFrog races, the test of agility and grip strength was emphasized on multiple occasions in 2 different rigs, on which the rain later in the day made completion more of a challenge, a set of metal spinning incline/decline monkey bars, wall traverse and the always fun, fan favorite made popular by everyone’s favorite Brit, “Tip of the Spear”.

Battlefrog-Philly-Rig

One section of the course was a boulder/rock climb that, to my surprise and delight, held a fear factor as it was steep, with no clear path and after some rainfall made it slick and quite a challenge in itself, I busted my ass 3 times working my way up it. One major disappointment was the advertisement on the course map of Tsunami. A major fan favorite,two-sided obstacle that consisted of a warped wall with rope assist, followed up by an always fun water slide on the opposite side. For whatever reason, this obstacle was not on site; there was a tarp covered in soap and water with a shallow puddle at the bottom. On a hot day like that, I took what I could get for a cool down.

Now, for my favorite aspect of the entire race. After completing Tip of the Spear, just before the finish line was 3 large, tarp lined dumpsters, originally advertised as ice baths. At this point in the day, it was cold water with no ice. Being the first time(and truly hope,not last) Battlefrog has dealt with ice baths, adding in the heat factor on that day, I can almost guarantee they didn’t have the adequate amount of ice required to sustain the obstacle for the entire event. They could always touch base with Savage Race for input on ice quantities needed for a full day ice bath. But honestly, it was an amazing cool down to finish a grueling event.

Battlefrog-philly-ice-bath

After receiving my medal, I proceeded back into the dumpster to wade around for several minutes. Speaking to many racers who participated in the “Extreme” multi-lap option, the consensus was this course was one of the toughest they’ve done to date. I wish more companies would utilize this venue and all the potential therein that BattleFrog did an amazing job tapping into. I’m usually very vocal on BattleFrogs lackluster business practices and employee turnover, but it’s not possible to say they don’t put on a hell of an event for all skill levels. Continue utilizing an ice bath, avoid last minute parking snafus, and provide more opportunities for free spectators (especially for kids race registrations) and you’ve got my business on future events.

P.S. Beautiful portashitters. 💩💩💩💩/5 turds

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P.S.S. Amazing photographers with a surplus of participant pics but for the love of Hobie please change the search format. Searching by bib number makes zero sense as nobody remembers that info, and if a race has an adequate amount of mud, your bib number won’t be visible.

Rugged Maniac – What You Don’t Know, Won’t Hurt You – NJ Review

With many two day events there will usually be several differences from Saturday to Sunday. If you’re not running both days, then you won’t miss or appreciate what you do or don’t have on the day you run. This is a good thing and bad thing depending on your expectations entering the event. Variances can range from parking locations, altered obstacles, even different medals or shirts (if they run out of one from Saturday to Sunday).

Often times if Saturday is shuttle parking, Sunday may be on site with attendance numbers differing by several thousand between the two days. With less people registered on Sunday’s it also means less backups for obstacles. Only drawback is most races go all out in terms of vendors, on course volunteers and even photographers for day 1 of 2. It’s really a pick your poison scenario and I’ll always opt for Sunday.

For event day, it never changes for parking at the always popular OCR venue of Englishtown NJ. Events such as Rugged Maniac, Tough Mudder, Battlefrog, Warrior Dash, Muderella and the upcoming Terrain Race series have chosen this venue for their races. So it’s always fun to see how each brand utilizes the space. One thing is for sure, be ready to get muddy regardless of the name on the swag.

Parking is on site, a short walk from the event area. Englishtown is a motor cross track and paved raceway. The event area for Rugged Maniac was utilized well with several food vendors, different local sponsors giving out product samples and family fun in the center of it all in the form of electronic bull riding, bean bag toss and even inflatable, full-body sumo outfits.

The start was the same as in years past for RM with a short paved jog leading you to the mud hills of the dirt bike track.  Since it had rained on Saturday and early morning Sunday the dirt was soft and the mud was wet. All races I’ve done there have followed the wooded path off the dirt course into a wooded area. It’s always nice and muddy, usually ankle deep and had several waist to shoulder high trenches filled with thick mud and water. I always forget to use my gaiters on this venue and always regret it with the massive amounts of mud.

Rugged-Maniac-New-Jersey-Slide

After coming out of the wooded area that’s outside the race track, you come up on several fun obstacles spaced throughout the course. The hanging inflated bags to run through while avoiding a fall into water, a series of floating crates (frog hop) that many chose to not sprint across and had difficulties balancing. Last year this obstacle was under construction throughout the day with lanes being closed for repair. Through three laps on Sunday all lanes were smooth sailing.

Rugged-Maniac-New-Jersey-Frog-Hop

The placement of several obstacles added a bit of a challenge to otherwise easy obstacles making things more interesting. The rings over water, for example, were at the bottom of a slippery, mound of mud that required the use of your hands to navigate. So when you’re ready to grip the rings, you couldn’t get a grip with wet, muddy hands. Balance beams over water was just after a walk through thick mud. The beams were wide enough not to cause issue for the standard OCR athlete, but for the average Joe this posed a challenge. The seesaw traverse was nice and slick making for a fun obstacle to observe people having a great time even while failing to complete it.

Rugged-Maniac-New-Jersey-Gauntlet

Now for the Saturday to Sunday variances I was aware of. People voiced frustration from a slide malfunction on Saturday causing it to be shut down for a period of time with cited safety concerns. The slide is easily one of the event highlights for participants of all athletic abilities. Fortunately I chose the best day for a giant water slide. Throughout the day Sunday the slide was fully functional. One of Rugged Maniac’s newest obstacles, named “Bang the Gong,” was altered from what I had expected and looked forward too. From videos of previous 2016 events a participant would jump from a mini trampoline outwards over water while attempting to hit a hanging frying pan or gong. When I approached the much anticipated obstacle I noticed the trampolines were nowhere to be found. I didn’t hear any complaining from participants on approach. Those that didn’t expect the trampolines had no reason to be disappointed and while I was looking forward to it, the obstacle was still a blast(I circled back in line for multiple jumps) running downhill to jump out into water.

Rugged-Maniac-New-Jersey-Bang-The-Gong
I was pleasantly surprised to find Rugged Maniac still using barbed wire in their crawls as opposed to other open heat targeting races that use ropes or plastic course tape. One mud crawl was on very slick,clay like mud that required an uphill ascent under low barbed wire. This would pose a challenge to any skill level and was an excellent opportunity to help other participants who appreciated a hand. The last obstacle leading to the slide, the warped wall, is always a spectator friendly obstacle providing an encouraging view of teamwork and camaraderie.

Rugged-Maniac-New-Jersey-Warped-Wall

Many people complained that they wished more photographers were on course. I personally ended up with 30+ pics for 3 laps of running. While there was many photo opportunities missed on key obstacles such as the warped wall and “Bang the Gong”, it was nice having a photographer on each side of the ring swing, assuring your photo op wasn’t blocked by another participant. I’m certainly a fan of Rugged Maniac for their emphasis on fun, yet challenging obstacles that provide a great day of racing for all skill levels. If you run competitively or just want a good time, you’ll find it at a Rugged Maniac.

Why Savage Race Should Not Be Your First OCR- Pennsylvania Review

Four years ago I registered for my first OCR – Tough Mudder Dallas – with my younger brother. To prepare, I registered for the Savage Race Pennsylvania that was happening two weeks prior to Tough Mudder….. Big Mistake.

I’ll never forget that day. It was cold… 25 degree wind chill cold. I jumped in a dumpster filled with ice. I remember bobbing my head like a chicken trying to work up the nerve to get myself to go under the divider in the ice bath. I finally made it under and it felt like an eternity climbing out.

Savage-Race-Pa-Shriveled-Richard
I approached these insane looking monkey bars that went out, then up, then down, then up, then down, then across…over water. I still remember looking at that contraption and thinking to myself “WHAT THE F@&$!” I made it past maybe three bars before splashing down.

Savage-Pa-Sawtooth

A little while later, finally drying off somewhat, I notice the large side of a platform that read “Davey Jones Locker”. Ooooook…. Walk up the wooden platform to realize the only way down was a high drop off the platform into water… Yay. It’s funny how it seems much higher standing at the edge of the platform than it does when you’re on the ground.

Savage-Pa-Davey-Jones-Locker

Ok… The worst is behind me…. Just a fun water slide and some smaller looking obstacle thats fast approaching. The sign read “Tazed”… Awesome. I realize it’s electric shock and recall thinking to myself “everyone’s making it through so it can’t be that bad”. After dealing with all the obstacles to this point I attempt to strategize the quickest way through…. “If I roll on my side the momentum will get me out quicker”…….yea

I recall my wife telling me later she was standing on the side to watch and the guy next to her saying “it’s not that bad, I think I got hit once”…. He didn’t roll sideways. My amazing technique made sure I hit every…single…hanging…wire.. Pretty sure I got zapped maybe 8 times. Every one felt like someone lifted me off the ground to slam me hard back to it. Savage Pa was my first OCR… Afterwards I said “never again”

Now… Fast forward through 4 years, 100+ OCRs, thousands of dollars, 13 different states and the most fun I’ve have had since I was a kid with no cares in the world and I blame it all on Savage Race. It could’ve gone so differently…. I could’ve registered for a nice ..easy.. relaxing mud run. Had a good time and say “ok that’s out of my system”. But no.. I had to register for a Savage Race and felt the rush, of fear conquering, upper body challenging obstacles.

Savage-Race-Pa-Wheel-World

Anytime I speak of Savage Race one word is always used, consistency. Year in, year out, state to state, Savage Race is consistent. They consistently deliver a smooth experience from start to finish. Parking is quick and effective. Registration and check-in is effortless. Bag check is always a very easy process from drop off to pick up. The best aspect of the brand is what keeps people talking, and coming back…the obstacles. The brand seems very receptive to their customers feedback(removing electroshock and incorporating new, exciting obstacles every year).

Savage-Race-Pa-Cage-Crawl

If you’re expecting to be given a heavy bag or bucket of rocks and being told to carry it up and down a hill, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re hoping to be challenged mentally and physically, you’ll be hooked on the brand like many before you. I had high expectations coming into the Pennsylvania event and they met and exceeded.
✔️ Smooth Parking
-quick, easy
✔️ Effortless Check-in
-small to no lines, efficient
✔️ Quick, Organized Bag check
-staffed with awesome volunteers
✔️ Start Line Emcee Hype
-Matt is insanely underrated
✔️ Challenging Terrain (flat but technical)
-woods, trail, ankle high water crossings
✔️ Fresh Innovative Obstacles
-constantly evolving and adding
✔️ Top Notch Finisher Swag
-comfortable tees, new medals every year
✔️ Loyal Customer Incentive(Syndicate)
-insane,large,spinning medal that exceeds BFX medal with add-on pins for each state

Savage-Pa-Start-Line

I’d have to truly nitpick to be critical….hmmm…. “Squeeze Play” (rolling barrels that require force to squeeze under and out) was in muddy water in MD, dry land in PA…… I’ve got nothing else. Some recent comments that were few and far between stated that “Sawtooth” was located in a wooded opening as opposed to spectator view. I run for personal enjoyment so this wasn’t a concern for me. I liked the unexpected location where that intimidating obstacle creeped up on you.

All around Savage has exceeded my expectations every year, every venue I’ve done. With the perfect blend of agility and fear based obstacles it’s exhilarating and fresh. If it’s your first Savage odds are VERY high it won’t be your last. If it’s your first OCR you’ve truly set your standards high(possibly unattainable) for your next. If you haven’t already… It’s time to get Savage as f@&$ #SAF.

Muckfest MS-Philly: My “Why I Race”

“I DID IT!!!! I was diagnosed 3 yrs. ago. Today is what I needed. I needed to show myself that I may have MS but it sure doesn’t have ME. I did every obstacle. I pushed myself to the limits. The best part is that my husband, 15 yr son and my 65 yr mom did it with me <3 THANK YOU FOR THIS EVENT- feeling strong”.

This was a comment left on Muckfest‘s Facebook page by Beth McDanel Nowaczyk after this past weekend’s event. It’s stories like this and events that raise money for diseases and disorders that affect people and families daily, that remind me how grateful I am to be healthy enough to do OCRs on a weekly basis.

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I had never run a Muckfest event, and had minimal knowledge of the course and company going into race day. I knew the sole purpose was to raise money for the National MS Society to fund research. I knew there would be water, mud, and obstacles. Beyond that, I didn’t know what to expect.

Muckfest-Philly-Start-Line

Shuttled parking was organized last minute due to heavy rains forecasted for event day with notice sent out Saturday afternoon(Sunday event). They provided 2 parking location options to be shuttled from. I parked at a high school location and was pleased to see quick and efficient shuttling for a 5-minute drive to the event. At drop off, I immediately noticed the start line way before you approach the registration lines. A much more relaxed approach from many events that wish to monitor racers more closely to assure paid registrants.

Registration was organized and moving throughout the day. As you walk through the registration tent, you immediately notice a massive orange duck in the middle of the event area. A fun, attention grabbing mascot, a different approach from the flexing frog or citizen of Sparta. Muddy participants and families lined up to get a commemorative photo with the huge duck before and after they ran the course.

Muckfest-Philly-Duck

On a scale of 💩 to 💩💩💩💩💩 …….(1💩=crap to 5💩💩💩💩💩 being Battlefrog elite level), the porta potty situation was a 💩💩. For the 7,300 racers (based on Muckfests confirmation… So probably 6k) for the two day event, they probably could’ve used a few more crappers. Cleanliness was lacking on day 2 (I’ll save you from the photo I got). BUT… Just behind the (💩💩rated), crappers there were 2 large rows of bright orange, single person, full sizepop-up up changing tents. I’m sure this isn’t a new idea but it was the first I’ve seen it and very convenient for post race, private clean up.

Muckfest-Philly-Change-Tent

The course started with the muddiest, wettest start I’ve encountered for an event….it was awesome. The emcee had dance offs and dared participants to belly flop in the start line mud. It was certainly a fun, energetic beginning, very fitting for this event. Once we were off, the entire heat was slowed and backed up with mud mountain/water pits as the first obstacle. If this were any of the usual, timed, more competitive events I’m used too, this would be the time you’d hear the frustration, groaning and “on your lefts” from the PR crowd.

What I actually saw and encountered amazed me. People were laughing and smiling. Mud was being thrown around and people were being pulled down into the wet mud by friends, teammates and strangers. Throughout the entire course there was minimal grass and dry spots, which enhanced the entire experience and ensured a muddy, wet, good time.

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Not expecting the obstacles to be challenging for anyone who’s done multiple OCRs, it was a very pleasant surprise to see they had found a common ground between fun and mentally challenging more so then physically. An event was able to take Tough Mudder style obstacles and adjust them for a first time racer to feel comfortable yet challenged.

Muckfest-Philly-Flying-Muckers

There was a platform jump into water, roughly half the height of Savage Races “Davey Jones Locker”. There was balance beams over water that had motivated volunteers pushing oversized, lightweight plastic balls towards you, in an attempt to knock you in the water. That was followed by a sprint across a bridge barely submerged in water while water intermittently sprayed upwards from the surface.

Muckfest-Philly-Big-Balls

At this point you’d expect some filler obstacles in the form of a wall climb, or tube crawl, which there was. But what I didn’t expect was a 4 lane zip line over water. The rope had a stopper 3/4 of the way over the water that forced you to release into the water or be bounced slightly back on the line before you’d have to release into the water. The fun didn’t end there. Everyone has fun on a swing, but everyone has more fun on a stand up swing that releases you into water, and believe me, from the smiles and laughs all around, everyone had fun. Carousels were always fun as a kid. But hanging rings that you grip as you’re taken for a ride in a circle, suspended over water, is fun as an adult. Of course when you start in mud, you have to end in mud with a crawl to the finish.

Muckfest-Philly-The-Spinner

I went into the event without any expectations and came out of it with several realizations. In the beginning when the back up caused people to interact and engage with each other on a fun level, as opposed to competitive, I thought that was an anomaly. Until my second lap when I ran into the much anticipated back up at an obstacle such as the 4 lane zip line. Generally this is when you hear the bitching and moaning of participants saying what the race company could’ve done to make this run smoother (everyone’s a race director), but instead I heard friendly conversations and strangers talking amongst each other about their mud run experiences outside of Muckfest, even people suggesting other participants go in front of them in line. It was an extremely unexpected and refreshing social atmosphere all day. Add that to the reported 7,300 registered racers over 2 days, the amazing cause the race supported, and positive experiences all around. Maybe other race companies should take note, this event was a success for the company, the cause, and most of all, for people like Beth who was able to prove to herself and others living with MS that she’s in control of her life and body.