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.


This was the fifth year in a row Spartan has taken over the Mets' home while the team was on a road trip, and not much has really ever changed much. The major addition to this years event, reminiscent of 2015, was the all-day downpour that made feet wet, grip slippery, and of course part of the fun taken away with a "dampened" mood (pun intended).  But regardless, the show went on despite many fearing the weather might possibly threaten otherwise.

1. COURSE-  Estimates clocked this course right around 3 miles or maybe slightly under, which had to be shorter than the year before.  I looked back and saw my time this year was even a solid 10 minutes faster than 2016. Besides hitting my spear throw this year on their newly designed target (missed it last year ugh), another reason for the quicker finish was not having the brutal stairs water jug carry that had crippled most of our legs.  The usual fitness stations were all there (ball slams, jump ropes, pushups, and box jumps), but the rep numbers varied anywhere between 20 and 30 for each instead of all being the same, and that was confusing to many.  Always glad to reach the finish line, the exit was almost as tricky of a course to finally go change into some dry clothes.  GRADE = B

2. FESTIVAL-  As mentioned, the lousy weather kept the festival from being anything like a ballpark tailgate.  At stadiums, the field level seating is the preferred place to spectate or rest after your race, but the soaked, otherwise-expensive, box seats were left empty.  First base side hallway was the main gathering area, but crowded hallways to avoid the rain weren't too much fun after a while.  GRADE = B

3. SWAG-  My first of many 2017 Sprint shirts I'll add to the collection, but many racers including myself had no idea where to even pick them up since they weren't distributed at the finish line chute like usual. Instead you had one more obstacle to traverse, the deep puddles of the parking lot, to get your tshirt at a tent outside the stadium.  I have to say I'm a little disappointed in the medals, which look exactly the same as all of last years' stadium races, and the ribbons for CitiField are just plain ugly compared to the Mets blue/orange theme colors every other year.  Of course, I got over that little let-down by picking up some better souvenirs with my second Spartan elite podium plaque in a row AND a Spartan World Championship qualifying coin here!  GRADE = B


Previous year events:





TERRAIN RACE (5k), Brooklyn NY, 5/6/17

Only two reasons exist why I went back to probably the worst OCR venue in America, Floyd Bennett Field at Aviator Park, Brooklyn:  1) I already paid for the super cheap $30 registration last year, when the race was actually supposed to be held in September but got postponed due to low registration numbers, and 2) I had a score to settle with their finale "Monkey Balls" obstacle that got the best of me back at their NJ race in August 2016.

1. COURSE-  I really don't want to hear the "well, it only cost $30 so what can you expect" argument that is already on the tip of some people's tongues.  The fact is, the two Terrain Races I have done so far, have been so poorly run and incredibly disorganized that the fee was almost worth it more for the comedic amusement of watching them trying to put on an event.  I realize they've only experimented with East coast events starting last year, but whoever thinks this is a good quality race has so much more ahead of them when they check out the mainstay OCRs in our area.  This is supposedly a major series further West, and I'm pretty sure thats the best its rep will stay.  Not much to even discuss about their obstacles save for Force5's challenging rig with various ninja obstacles.  And the one obstacle I was looking forward to, Monkey Balls, wasnt even there this time.  The rest of the course looked like heavily recycled wood structures, or completely random (and poorly explained) exercise stations, with the majority done on Aviator's flat concrete airstrip lots. And although most of us weren't big fans of the cold waist deep pools to stand in at the start line, at least it was actually something different. I'm being generous with this, on hopes these are growing pains and will learn from their two tri-state disasters... GRADE = C

2. FESTIVAL-  Unless I missed it, the half dozen small vendor tent booths don't really count as a festival, do they?  I could have probably set up my own table their and no one would have even noticed.  Granted it was a chilly Spring day, but there was nothing going on in that area.  Pretty sad ("but you only paid thirty"...blahblahblah).  GRADE = D

3. SWAG-  A little better on the giveaway score, since at least this year their shirts didn't have the logo upside-down on the majority of them!  I was lucky enough (had to look twice) to make sure I did get one of the correct medals, as half of finishers this time were given ones that were labeled for the next week's race in New England. I do like the medal, even though its not as fancy as last year's spinner version.  GRADE = B


Previous year events:


SPARTAN BEAST, Vernon NJ, 4/30/17

Almost a year ago to the day, I declared I had just finished probably my final Spartan Beast course ever, here at Mountain Creek NJ.  That race was just plain miserable- a 15 mile, Norm Koch designed course of brutality through pouring rain in 40 degree temps.  No part of that was fun to me, and 4 hours of it was enough to announce my (long course) retirement.  But like an aging Jordan or Favre, I got sucked right back onto the field, this time my first Spartan as a Master's division athlete.

1. COURSE-  A lot of times I have trouble recalling much detail after an OCR course, especially one that's a half marathon length (this year, minus Norm's wizardry, was actually a noticeable 2 miles shorter than 2016's edition).  Don't worry, the "death march" (or a few of them depending on which you give the name to) still had plenty of influence on this mountain's racers legs.  But most will probably recall instead the treacherous downhills (at least my quads did all week after), which were super rocky, technical, and slick, especially with the overnight rain.  Two new obstacles made their appearance in the northeast- the Bender inverted monkey bars, which didnt give too many that much trouble... and the Twister spinning handle pole traverse, which certainly did!  However, what most were griping about at the end was probably the nasty Bucket Brigade that preceded that, heading into the final few hundred yards of the race.  I know everyone got a kick out of the one patch of snow a few miles in, but probably weren't too excited for the waist deep chilly pond crossing.  Either way, with or without our old pal Norm, you get your money's worth out of this Beast.  And... maybe I'll be back next year. GRADE = A

2. FESTIVAL-  Spectators got a great view of those last few obstacles, plus the Rope Climb, as they watched their friends grip strength deplete over the last 5 minutes of an all day affair.  Not much else was different in the setup from last years race or the Super that has been held here every Fall since 2012.  Still one of the best arrangements that Spartan has put together for a great finish line view, but keeping it from a slighly better score was the fact that they did not run the ski gondolas to allow fans access to the upper sections.  GRADE = B

3. SWAG-  Another perk of running this early season Beast was getting to be among the first to pick up their newly redesigned medal, vastly different than most years in the past, and of course the 2017 green shirt (reverse shown in pic).  But even with all this new swag, I'm still a little partial to another souvenir I picked up at the awards ceremony- the first time I've been on Spartan's podium since the early days of helmet and sword trophies in 2011.  GRADE = A


Previous year events:


SAVAGE RACE, Dade City FL, 3/18/17

The Mudman Report has finally returned after a brief racing/writing hiatus!  And with the winter doldrums in the Northeast getting to be just about enough already, the timing couldn't be better for my usual Spring Break OCR trip to Florida.  I've only run Savage Race previously in PA, back in 2014 and 2016 (that's the closest to NY they have set up at so far), so it was great to see what product they might put out in the warm Sunshine State.

1. COURSE-  If there's ever been a race series who were most progressive with keeping its events fresh and exciting, with new inventive obstacles, its these guys.  Just like Six Flags, every year there seems to be a new thrill ride (or several!) waiting for us to get all pumped about.  All winter long, their website (also probably the best among OCRs) and social media have teased us with previews of new obstacles such as Hangarang, Tree Hugger, Twin Peaks (more on that one later), and a few bonus versions of their ninja-level challenging Savage Rigs.  As for the course, set on Little Everglades Park (no alligators that I saw though) in the rural Tampa outskirts, it was as pristine a venue as I've ever been to, which I assume the owners pride themselves in just as much as Sam and Lloyd do of their Savage brand. Being flat ranch farmland, the race was also a super fast pace with really nothing to slow runners down but the obstacles themselves (or watery pools below) and a few damp patches of muddy swamp trekking.  The lone scratch on this otherwise clean race came with a few hundred yards til the finish (for the early Pro wave at least), where the double quarter pipe Twin Peaks second ramp was super wet and slick, making it nearly impossible to conquer until the sun and some toweling off made it manageable for a small number to reach the top and go on.   GRADE = A

2. FESTIVAL-  The area was big and spread out, with no clear perimeter around the many vendor booths and spectator picnic tables, but allowed all of its patrons to venture around and see for themselves what they wanted to do post-race.  Plenty of food options, obstacle displays, and great views of both the start and finish lines are all accompanied by fun music heard throughout the festival.  Savage and their emcee puts on one of the best award podium ceremonies, with categories for overall, masters, and age group winners, which keeps the crowd (and worthy competitors, like yours truly!) entertained as well.  And just like your entrance, before leaving you need to funnel through the merch tent, which had a great selection of new gear (and a buy two, get one free tshirt deal!).  GRADE = A

3. SWAG-  Great to see a new (and dated 2017) shirt, which is back in their classic blue color, different than the couple others I have (see previous year reviews below).  But, what we really need to talk about is the hardware you see here.  The standard finisher medal looks about similar in size to last year, but with colors reversed, and now with an upgraded attachment piece to the ribbon.  I ran two laps on Saturday, so also picked up their vastly redesigned Syndicate medal (and state pin), which is again a "spinner" style but much more intricate than last year's inaugural edition.  Luckily, I also was able to retain my white SavagePro wristband (with mandatory completion of all obstacles) and then also go on to finish first in my age group, hence that big chunk of solid gold blinding you in the pic. ;)  GRADE = A


Sign up for a 2017 Savage Race and save 15% with code "MUDMAN17"

Previous year events:



GEAR REVIEW: Reebok All-Terrain Super 3.0 (OCR) shoes

Though you can't purchase these probably until this March, we got a special pre-holiday delivery of Reebok's upcoming next generation of All-Terrain "Super" obstacle/trail running shoes to try out.  Already, I see a bunch of great improvements that should address the primary complaints many Spartan Racers and myself have had on their last few models.  If you want to read up on those earlier model shoes too, check out my past articles below:






1.  FIT/FEEL-  Each of Reebok's editions of their All-Terrain shoes could probably still fit (loosely) into the "minimalist" category, when compared to competitor brands that are much more solid, bulky, and then also typically heavier.  That still holds true with the light and airy 3.0's, but they seem to have softened up even more with a material feel that now doesn't remind you as much of wearing just a thin sheet of leather on your feet.  As far as comfort, this was a step in the right direction, since after all an obstacle racer is going to need these on for usually an hour or more during the nastiest and dirtiest conditions our events will throw at us, and we'll want a smooth ride for that trip.  GRADE = B

2.  FUNCTION-  All-Terrains have always been known for their "H2O Drain" side ports to expel water after even just a few steps out of a muddy pond, and that feature of course returns on these new editions.  The same solid bottom lug arrangement also remains, and now adds a higher area of traction on the toes and arch, with the "RopePro" zone to assist with better climbing footholds. The predecessor "OR" model experimented with a string quick lacing style, which I was just not a fan of (sorry all you Solomon lovers). Thankfully these 3.0's not only went back to typical laces, but also an improved tongue that attaches the full length of the upper and now can't slide down to inside the shoe. GRADE = A

3.  FASHION-  For the first time in this All-Terrain series, we can actually recognize these shoes by their addition of the large triangle Reebok logo on the sides.  It may be only this particular sample they sent out, but the gray/blue were a far cry from the wild flashy explosion of color that my OR's had (see at top of this article).  We'll see if other color varieties are available when these hit online shelves in the Spring.  GRADE = B