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.

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



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