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.


If you've been following any coverage of the elite racing circuit early in this OCR season, you've likely noticed a certain pair of bright neon green- black- and red shoes flooding the start line on those racer's feet.  Those stylish kicks are indeed the fast trending VJ Sport XTRM, developed with help of perhaps today's top OCR athlete Jon Albon, who brought the brand into the spotlight the last few years of world championships wearing their earlier I-Rock2 model.  With all the buzz surrounding their recruited top tier Pro Team and collection of podium appearances, we'll likely see these on many more racers feet than just the elites very soon.

1.  FIT/FEEL-   One of the most important feetures (haha see what I did there?) I look for in a new pair of shoes is the comfort-ability to wear them straight out of the box and go right out for a run or race. I know, usually hard to find that, but as a long time Inov-8 fan, that's always been a huge factor thats been key.  These shoes were close to race ready when fresh, but did need a little breaking in.  After a few runs (30+ min each), they softened up to be at that stage.  The fit was true to my size 9, and the Fitlock strap holding laces tighter around the mid-foot was something I liked, as I prefer a more snug feel.   Overall, these felt super light despite their solid construction, another major aspect I need in my racing shoes.  Also, the midsole rock plate definitely protected the arches on the more rocky and root-y trails, something OCR shoes should just not be without.   GRADE = A

2.  FUNCTION-  The hashtag the VJ Shoes brand has made famous is really pretty accurate in my opinion, as I tested #thebestgripontheplanet on a variety of terrain over the last month- including snow, slush, streams, mud, sand, and dirt.  Anything short of sprinting on Teflon gave superior traction, perhaps due to both the rubber material of the lugs and also the arrangement pattern, as they performed great for up or downhills as well as any curving turns.  The lugs are a softer rubber, so it remains to be seen how durable they will be after the occasional pavement crossings, but the added Kevlar heel cup should probably hold up well to racing wear and tear, and stray bullets?!  The one thing they could have improved on might have been a better drainage system, as it took an effort to stomp out extra water before they emptied out.  GRADE = A

3.  FASHION-  The layout of each sewn together piece and layer of material is a sleek and flashy design, which will appeal to the Millenials buying these up.  As for the color scheme, not far off from a Christmas light show, its not for the bland or boring type (but if it is, there's always the option to go find some thick mud to cover them with?).  I like the look, and even though I'm known by the nickname "Mudman", I'll still hose these dirty bad boys off after my races to get that fresh glow for the next run.   GRADE = A


If interested in picking up a pair of these for your training and race season, we've got a discount code you can use for $20 off each pair.  Send me a message for the hookup!

SURVIVAL RACE, Calverton NY, 1/19/19


SPARTAN SPRINT, Old Bethpage NY, 11/17/18

We had waited far too long for Spartan to make a visit to Long Island, but they finally did.  This dream was actually a goal of ours when I worked for SR in 2012-13 but had trouble finding an adequate and willing venue to host the race (at the time, we were planning an 8 mile Super course), but Spartan jumped on the same site that Tough Mudder has used for the last 4 years.  A rather unusual choice, as the Old Bethpage Village Restoration is an open-air historic "museum" that many of us locals visited on elementary school field trips, and for that reason its one that also comes with restrictions on construction, digging, and of course any fire (which there wasn't).

1. COURSE-  For anyone that knows Long Island, its very tough to find any kind of elevation without going to the north shore, and this is smack dab mid island where the best you have is a few rolling hills.  The terrain, especially at this site, also doesn't offer much variety, so this race became one of the fastest Sprints ever as much of it was on either grassy fields or wide packed dirt trail roads.  A few sections took you into short wooded bushwacking trails but those were still nothing to slow down the pace.  The usual mix of obstacles made their appearances, with many of them bunched into mini gantlet sections of 3-4 in a row.  The heavy carries were shorter and easier than normal with little incline to deal with, although it was quite muddy especially near the sandbag carry.  GRADE = B

2. FESTIVAL-  The main gathering area was well placed near both the start and finish lines, but almost seemed a little too "big" for the thin crowd on a crisp cool mid-November day.  What we could have used more of were picnic tables or other seating.  The merchandise tent was nearly an entire strip mall in length, and hard to avoid as it lined the exit.  The best part of the setup was actually the registration and packet pickup housed in one of the old farm house buildings that are part of the museum- the only time the race came anywhere near touching the historic landmarks.  GRADE = B

3. SWAG-  This would be the last Spartan of my 2018 race season, and so (gladly) the last of the same red Sprint medal that I've collected so many of before.  Same goes for the Finisher shirt, which I didnt even take, but rather splurged a whopping $30 for the collectible venue shirt you see here- but like I said, I had to celebrate and remember the year Spartan finally came to play in my backyard. Hoping they will now make this a regular visit.  GRADE = B


TOUGHER MUDDER, Englishtown NJ, 10/6/18

My first ever Tough Mudder in 2011 was here at Raceway Park in Englishtown NJ, a venue I've since visited a number of times for other OCRs that have rented out this site- including 2014 and 2015 BattleFrog, 2016 Terrain Race, and 2017 BoneFrog.  Every year since then I've only done one Mudder annually, in a different location each time, until they came to Long Island in 2015 and then I've made that my yearly (and convenient local) headband collection run. I did their Full, Half, and 5k versions (which they will be eliminating the middle one next year), but was disappointed in the shorter distances because of how few obstacles were used.  Seeing that the Full is really the most worthy event in my eyes, I went for the new ToughER version- a timed heat, the day's first wave of the Full distance course, with ALL the obstacles they'd bring.

1. COURSE-  Right after putting on my neon yellow crossing guard looking bib, I found out that this course would not be quite like the last one I did here at Raceway Park- instead of a true "Full" 10 mile course, they have gone to a double lap of the 5 mile Half recently.  However, thankfully lap 2 was not the exact path of the first, and also featured different (and better) obstacles the final lap. The Raceway Park venue is a mixed bag of different terrains- some single track forest running, some winding motocross mud hill tracks, and (unfortunately) also some unavoidable pavement, as they need to use that to connect areas of the park as well as utilize the namesake asphalt racecar track section.  The format of Tougher, besides being competitive and timed, included penalty runs for failed obstacles.  I was lucky to not face those this day, but they looked really minimal and painless (compared to that other big race series who fines in the amount of 30 burpees each time).  Among the best obstacles were my favorite Blockness Monster, and then Happy Ending, which both were only seen once. We were also given the task of "preparing" the Arctic Enema by carrying our own ice bag and then dumping it into the tub before taking that memorable dip.  GRADE = A

2. FESTIVAL-  Using a big field section, there was a true festival feel to the wide area and offerings.  Lots of vendors with samples (I like the Jack Links jerky and Kill Cliff drinks) , and also some fun games including a version of the ninja salmon ladder.  Main sponsor Merrell had a big tent with shoes to try on (no free samples there lol) as well.  GRADE = B

3. SWAG-  My biggest Mudder haul yet, since the Tougher race comes with this fashionable race jersey bib and different headband. And then building on Long Island's Repeat Offender pickups, this brought me to my third distance TM completed in the last two years, scoring yet another headband plus a mini kettlebell souvenir. The finisher shirt is same Merrell tech material they've had for a few years, so this was only the slightly different logo design from the other distance events.  GRADE = A