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.

TOUGHEST MUDDER 12 HOUR, Coatesville PA, 5/18/19

With all the drama this year surrounding Tough Mudder's corporate struggles and event prize changes, I was so glad that my prayers were answered for this event to still happen!  Now, for anyone that knows my dislike for ultra endurance type races (or training), you'd be surprised to know this was perhaps the event I was most looking forward to all year.  Definitely out of my few-hour running window comfort zone, my pal Keith convinced me to take on this crazy overnight race for maximum course mileage when we began winter training in December (usually in the dark through cold and often rainy, snowy conditions) to not make a fool of myself come Toughest time six months later!

1. COURSE-  And here we are in May, in that sort of unsettled Spring time weather (which was my biggest fear of cold and the idea of possibly using a wetsuit to race in), but feeling ready to finally do this thing from sundown to sunrise.  I've only done one other night OCR race back in 2012 at the short Ultimate Mud Run, which was a sh*tty 5k event but still interesting being in the dark.  This time, headlights required since all but the obstacle were lit up, so running between them was too dark to see without one.  Luckily, the weather was ideal and wetsuits really weren't needed.  I did get cold around 8 or 9 hours into it (around 4am), but the constant moving easy pace kept me warm enough until then.  The format of the event was also unique, as each 5 mile lap was completed you had the opportunity to pit stop at your campsite tent setup to rest or refuel.  The first lap was also a gift since obstacles didnt open until at least a half hour from the start, with more opening every 30 minutes after, so we got to avoid the un-fun Arctic Enema, Electroshock Therapy, and many others until even into our third lap.  The best and probably more challenging obstacles were the Gauntlet, Funky Monkey, and Mudderhorn, which were longer and more physical.  And a nice announced surprise was a wristband awarded for lap 4 and beyond completed, which gave you an obstacle bypass for ones like those just mentioned, that might take too much time or grip strength to complete, as there were also small penalty run loops for failing (in addition to maybe falling in the cold water first!).   GRADE = A

2. FESTIVAL-  As we arrived in the evening, most of us didn't get to really experience the actual festival area which was closing down from the day time full Tough Mudder event that took place, so in lieu of that, we'll consider the "Pit"... which was maybe the coolest aspect of the entire event!  All racers were given a 10x10 foot space akin to a camp site registration, to set up as they like for a comfort and transitional area between laps.  The end of each 5 mile course actually went right through the Pit, which was a much-looked-forward to section, as the support crew of friends cheered every racer passing through, giving new life to tired legs each time around.   And luckily, Arctic Enema ice dumpster was one of the last obstacles of the loop, so you had just a quarter mile before being able to dry off and warm up at your Pit after.  GRADE = A

3. SWAG-  Like any of the TM competitive events such as when I did last fall's Tougher Mudder NJ, my favorite souvenir is the super cool race bib that is yours to keep after.  We also grabbed our finisher shirts prior to the race, since they feared running out by morning time.  After the event formally concluded at the 8am finish line cutoff time, it was time to line up and collect your hard earned swag at the hospitality tent.  Those items started with the first time ever Tough Mudder medal, yes I said MEDAL, for (I suppose) at least completing one lap of the course.  The same achievement also got you the commemorative black/blue Toughest headband.  The final collectible was a patch for the number of miles completed through the 12 hour event, in 5 mile increments, which I proudly took for reaching my goal of officially becoming an ultramarathoner here with 6 laps and 30 total miles done, almost twice the distance I've ever run in a single event in my life!  GRADE = A



Though a bit of a trip from Long Island, this was the second stop of the 2019 Stadion Series after doing the CitiField Spartan a month earlier.  Since focusing my training mainly on the short, intense style stadium races the last few years, and this also being a "new" event for me (though they all are generally similar), I decided to pack up the fam and make a long weekend out of the 5 hour drive to the Nation's capital, where I hadn't visited in decades anyway. 

1. COURSE-   As I said, not much differs in a stadium race other than the city you find yourself in that particular Saturday, and it seems that these races are actually becoming shorter (or we're all just running faster?), because even top finish times are now commonly under a half hour, so it's almost over before you're even getting into any groove.  And to speed things up even more, the obstacle penalty the last couple years has been reduced from 30 to 15 burpees for each fail, so that might not set you back too far in your race.  The typical (baseball) stadium takes you running through most sections of stairs stairs and more stairs, but the payoff is always the bonus access to the locker rooms, dugouts, and finish line tour around the outfield dirt warning track area.  And if you don't look up once in a while, you'll miss the pretty incredible views from the far corners of these stadiums, to really appreciate the size of the arena you're conquering.  GRADE = B

2. FESTIVAL-  No stadium has really done this well, due to space limitations inside the parks, but DC did have a pretty wide open walk through entrance/exit space where vendors had rows of tents set up.  Still, overcrowding as the morning went on from spectators and racers going to/from the course made it a little jammed up to move around and navigate easily where this was.  The best of festival setups by far has always been the Boston Fenway Park race, using their adjacent Yawkey Way street block to greet the day's customers.  GRADE = C

3. SWAG-  A pleasant surprise was actually getting a different medal than April's CitiField race, because this DC event doubled as an Honor series race, so the finisher medal was for that, and accompanying pie piece was the yellow Stadion part.  The shirt was the same as the other stadiums we'll get all year, which I do particularly like- since they happen to also be the same colors as my gym, Obstacle Athletics ;)  GRADE = B


SPARTAN BEAST, Vernon NJ, 4/28/19


Previous year events:





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!