After each mud run or obstacle race I compete in, you'll get my review and grades for each event to help you decide which ones you might want to sign up for. The following categories will be discussed:

1. COURSE- the design, venue, and setup of the race itself- how creative/ adventurous/ difficult the obstacles were, and obviously... how was the MUD?!?

2. FESTIVAL- all the fun beyond the actual race- the social atmosphere which usually includes food, beer garden, dj/ music/ concert, contests, vendors, and more during the after-party

3. SWAG- the included goodie bag and prizes up for grabs- all the "free" stuff that comes with price of entry and the quality of awards, shirts, and other giveaways

Feel free to use the search box to read up on any past topics you might be looking for.

SPARTAN SPRINT, Killington VT, 9/17/17


Previous year events:


SPARTAN SPRINT, West Point NY, 8/26/17

The only other Spartan "military" race I had done was back at 2014's Tampa Sprint, which doubled as a stadium series event as well.  Though that day changed my life, as I met my fiancee there, the race itself was otherwise less memorable.  Besides a few theme-adjusted obstacles, like an ammo can carry instead of a bucket, the dream of a truly military bootcamp-inspired course was less than expected.  With this new West Point event, I kept hopes that we might get that real feel of Army blended with Spartan.

1. COURSE-  Contrary to what most thought, the venue was not actually on the famed West Point campus but rather next door at their lakeside property.  Also a surprise at least to me, was the lack of elevation since this area is smack dab in the Adirondacks- think Bear Mountain, Storm King, Breakneck Ridge etc.  The course had rolling hills, but no typical mountain (ski slope grade) trails that we're used to from Spartan, just like the nearby Tuxedo Sprint each June.  As far as obstacles went, no surprises besides an odd ordering which caused some trouble for a lot of racers.  One of the first stations was Olympus, a slow sideways wall traverse, which got jammed up quickly from those who sprinted out the first 1/2 mile.  It seems Spartan's methodology now also leans toward putting a number of grip strength obstacles in a "gauntlet" row- as the bucket carry, Twister, and rope climb were consecutive stops toward the end.  Still, no major Army presence in the race except for a good number of cadets racing themselves.  GRADE = B

2. FESTIVAL-  I didn't get to hang around long to check out the afterparty, but by 8:30am nothing too exciting was going on.  From what I hear, I'm pretty glad I did leave so early as the shuttle bus catastrophe had later runners waiting up to 2 hours to get back to their cars (parked 20 minutes away, no onsite parking).  GRADE = C

3. SWAG-  I decided not to fork up the $30 for it, but the West Point venue shirt was one of the nicer ones I've seen.  So instead I just collected my 5th Sprint finisher shirt of the year.  The best takeaway was definitely the commemorative medal, with unique design for the military race series.  GRADE = A


SPARTAN SUPER, Kane'ohe HI, 8/6/17

Well, after a mere 130 races in my OCR career, so far I'd say it would be hard to find a more beautiful venue than this one Spartan used for the Hawaii Trifecta weekend that included every race distance on the list.  Short of jumping molten lava flow or swimming with turtles, the course was just as spectacular as could be imagined.  Visiting these islands has been a lifelong dream of mine, and getting to do an obstacle race here (two actually- Sunday's Super and Sprint), was just the icing on the cake!

1. COURSE-  Set on the island of Oahu's sprawling Kualoa Ranch, famous for numerous movie location filmings (most notably Jurassic Park of course), parts of the course might have felt like you were Hollywood dreaming and not actually running through one of the most storied and spiritual places on earth.  While the tall green sheer mountain cliffs weren't part of the run inclines (thankfully), there were enough other types of terrain to adequately crush runners legs, mine included as the heat had my calves cramping up for most of the Super course.  My favorite section was the waist deep river run, just a quarter mile in from the start, which was an instant relief from the hot morning sun.  Obstacle wise, not much was a surprise or new from the 2017 season.  It also seemed like the bulk of them came right near the festival and finish area, as a gauntlet of failures might have made the last hundred yards feel like a hundred burpee miles.  GRADE = A

2. FESTIVAL-  This was a great set up, where the pre-race weekend Spartan Luau was also held on Friday night, right in the center among the giant walls of green mountainsides on almost all sides.  As mentioned, many of the final obstacles were on view right from the festival, and a handful of others were also a short walk from there.  One big gripe I had was the transportation "issue" on Sunday, when they announced over the loudspeaker (at around 10am) that the shuttle buses were already no longer running- which meant over a mile walk back with tired legs and all our gear to the parking lot on the other side of the ranch.   GRADE = B

3. SWAG-  Same shirts as all of 2017's other races (I did both Super and then Sprint), and same medals except for a very cool commemorative ribbon specific to these Hawaiian races.  Not sure if I was expecting to "get lei'd" at the finish line haha, but it would have been cool for them to do something more festive for this race, as it's also clearly a "racecation" for all of us mainlanders (and many Aussie's) who came to run here.   GRADE = A


TOUGH MUDDER HALF, Old Bethpage NY, 7/23/17


Previous year events:



CITY CHALLENGE, New York NY, 7/15/17

I'll be the first to admit I had major skepticism on what this race would be like, though they seem to be a steadily growing series based in the big market NY/NJ tri-state area.  Of course, my first anxiety starts by the fact that it is not a mud-centered OCR, which you might guess (how? haha) is something I usually gravitate toward.  I rarely run any type of road race, so the fact that this 3 mile course was primarily on pavement also had my ankles and shins a little worried.  But all in all, I was pleasantly surprised with the overall product that I had intended to do in years past, but had not yet toed their line until now.

1. COURSE-  Again, not my usual style of mountain graded, puddle stomping fun.  But with a decent number of (but mostly fairly easy) obstacles over the 5k distance, they get a thumbs up for keeping it from being purely a runners course- which there were quite a few of that mold at this non traditional OCR.  Elite heat has really only one significant task difference, besides requiring mandatory obstacle completion to continue onward, at the early cinder block carry station.  Being forced to carry not one but two partially filled cement blocks was a huge difference maker (and probably crushed the pure runner types who haven't done that type of training).  For the most part, the course was well staffed by volunteers and marshals, which had been a complaint in their past races.  The only hiccup might have been the ending run (and sandbag carry) through the stadium stair sections, where some turns were not marked or instructed, and even went right through the spectator areas, as that had the potential to be messy for those competing.  GRADE = B

2. FESTIVAL-  A good number of vendors, everything from other race series like the New England based FIT Challenge, to several branches of the Armed Forces, had some challenges and contests to collect swag.  As mentioned above, even though the race was confusing at the end going through the stadium, it was a great way for friends and family to spectate right in the middle of the action.  I also went back and cheered later racers, which was a blast!  GRADE = B

3. SWAG-  For the medal collector, this was a great add.  I liked their spinner style and the design itself, which I believe was created by OCR super-addict Sandy Hendrick.  The shirt is top quality tech material, but thank goodness there was no mud at this event after giving out white shirts!  And though I usually don't consider it true swag, their racer bib is actually one of my favorites I've worn.  I'm still waiting to see what other stuff might get sent out (OCRWC qualify!) after taking 3rd in the Elite race, as they didn't end up holding an awards ceremony on race day.  GRADE = A


SPARTAN SPRINT, Palmerton PA, 7/9/17


Previous year events:





BONEFROG CHALLENGE, Englishtown NJ, 6/17/17

As promised, only a month passed since my last Bonefrog in MA, as opposed to 3 long years between that one and the same race in 2014. Pumped to get back out there off my first place finish in the Sprint distance, now I got to try my legs (and grip strength for sure!) in the 8 mile Challenge around Raceway Park NJ.

1.  COURSE-   The two venues where I raced Bonefrog this year couldnt have been more opposite.  MA was a killer mountain with nasty inclines, while northern NJ was as flat as can be besides the motocross dirt bike mounds that we went through a couple times.  Englishtown has never been one of my favorite sites for an OCR for that very reason, but sometimes a race is able to find the varied outskirts of this property to mix things up.  Several pond crossings were an interesting change from the flat fast trails, as long as you didn't swallow a gulp of the gross swamp water (yuck, I did).  My biggest fear was how much pavement we'd hit, as other series have come here and added mileage to their course by running laps around the racecar speed track and areas of the parking lot, but for the most part it was kept to a minimum or there was the grassy edge to choose.  But where Bonefrog really comes through is their sheer number and legit quality of obstacles, many that are heavy on grip strength and a flair of ninja abilities.  And where the last half mile might have been the least exciting run section, they loaded up with the best obstacles- the spinning Chopper, always classic Dirty Name, Synergy's Sway Bar rig, and of course the Black Ops monkey bar finale. GRADE = A

2.  FESTIVAL-  Besides their own merch gent, which by the way had a great selection of really nice shirts (and relatively priced too), most of the vendor village was taken over by military branch booths.  I might be too old to get recruited now at age 40, but it was a cool to see their presence and pick up some handouts at this Navy SEAL owned and operated event.  The overcast weather didn't help today's afterparty scene, but didn't stop me from spending hours watching and helping other racers through the very spectator friendly last gauntlet of obstacles near the finish. GRADE = B

3.  SWAG-  Identical shirt as last month, which are now the exact same regardless of which race distance you run.  This time running the Challenge, the finisher medal was similar but opposite colors from last month's Sprint, and each have a differentiated ribbon.  I will say the Tier-1 and Endurance race distance medals are even more badass (rightfully so), but I'm not quite sure if I'll ever will myself one day to do either of those longer races.  I did retain my mandatory completion Elite wristband and then came in second place overall, picking up another sweet Navy paddle, a little cash, and some other sweet podium swag.  Not a bad trip to Jersey after all!  GRADE = A


GOLIATHON, Mullica Hill NJ, 6/3/17

The single disappointment I had with Goliathon last year was not being able to do their October event after having such a blast in the Spring 2016 competition.  Truly a unique type of OC'R' (minus the Race part- I keep forgetting to take out that letter, since it is not a timed race after all), it is growing in reputation as one of the top quality must-do's in the Northeast, for both racers and certainly the ninja warrior fan or athlete.

1. COURSE-  To read up on the full details and format of how this event runs, last year's article explained it all pretty clearly.  What I can tell you from this years experience is that everything I remembered from a year ago was either just as good or better, as many of the obstacles got facelifts or a redesign (some made a little harder, in case you assumed all those G2's were a piece of cake!).  The point is, the participants' demands for quality and challenge did not go ignored, as obstacles looked shiny and new despite being set up on a permanent year-round course.  Most people's favorite, the final "Over the Moon" warped wall, got an entire new rebuild with wider lanes so several can go at a time as they channel their inner American Ninja Warrior going to grab the top wall and pull themselves to victory!  GRADE = A

2. FESTIVAL-  Just about identical to their 2016 event, the afterparty is a small intimate space between the start and finish chutes, just as you collect your swag (see below) and reminisce about all the awesome ninja action that took place.  The big festival attraction had to be the almost neverending rope climb challenge dangling from a construction crane, which gathered crowds to watch how long it would take the best climbers to get to the top.  If only I had even an ounce of grip strength left after the dozen course obstacles and 4 miles of running, I would have tried it.  Well, maybe next time before running the course I'll give it a go!  GRADE = A

3. SWAG-  Already one of my favorite shirts (maroon color is the first any race has given out that I'm aware of), and same quality triblend material that they had for last years' edition (also a big fan of that lime green one).  They changed the medal to a round shape with magnet back, which is also a first I've seen, in case you wanted to stick on your fridge rather than a wall hook.  And of course the souvenirs of true pride come in each participants' wrist full of earned bands, different colors for each level of obstacle completed.  Lastly, I'm proud to say the squad from our Long Island based gym, Obstacle Athletics, came through with not only several top individual scores for the day, but we also took the 2nd place team award (not shown) in the overall standings!  We will surely be back this October to do even better! GRADE = A


BONEFROG CHALLENGE (Sprint), Charlemont MA, 5/20/17

It had been 3 long years since doing my one and only Bonefrog that was a major highlight of my 2014 racing season.  Kept away only by an injury one year and another event conflict the next, their new addition of famed former-Spartan race director Norm Koch convinced me to make sure not to miss this one in 2017, even with a 4 hour drive each way for me.  Well worth the trip just like the first time here, and already planning on their much closer NJ race coming up next month!

1.  COURSE-  One of the hidden gems in OCR is this Massachusetts "B'East" of a mountain at Berkshire East resort, where Bonefrog has had a stronghold for their New England events for several years.  The steep slopes rival the incline of any race I've done, and if you've gone up the "Stairway to Valhalla" then you'd probably say the same. Besides the brutal terrain of up- and down-hill leg burning paths, my favorite obstacles had to be two of their newer ninja-type ones- the "Sway Bar" curved monkey bar set with a nunchuk hold between, and the spinning "Choppa", similar to Savage Race's Wheel World.  The cold water swim and rope traverse were, uh, refreshing, some might say (wakes you up, that's for sure!).  And no one can deny their favorite post race pic is the final Black Ops monkey bars with the massive American flag for a backdrop.  GRADE = A

2.  FESTIVAL-  Starting the race morning with a skydive parachute jump show is pretty hard to beat, so that would be just enough to earn a top mark already.  The fantastic set up of the log cabin-esque base lodge at the foot of the mountain was a perfect place to hang out and watch some of the highlight obstacles near their finish line.  The only gripe I had was the few options for post race food, which was terribly expensive (i think it was $8 for a grilled hotdog?), but some like myself found a local pizzeria down the street to refuel before the ride home. Anyway, big points for the super close parking at this venue, as I went back to my car several times for change of clothes.  GRADE = A

3.  SWAG-  My maroon Bonefrog shirt from three years ago is still one of my favorite race editions.  This year (not sure what 2015 or 2016 were like) the shirt was a less exciting gray, but the front logo is pretty awesome.  Previously, their Sprint or Challenge shirts were slightly different from one another, but now everyone received the same at the finish line.  I thought the race timing ticket printout was also a really neat feature, rather than people lining up to photograph an ipad display.  I also took out my old swag to compare and saw they were exact identical (Sprint) medals, just a new ribbon.  One thing I didn't mind getting a duplicate from 2014 was another award paddle for 1st place in the Sprint distance!  Definitely one of the most unique trophies in OCR.  GRADE = A