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.

TOUGH MUDDER, Englishtown NJ, 11/12/11

"Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet" is the motto that Tough Mudder uses to describe its challenge (NOT a race) which tests fears of heights, claustrophobia, extreme temperatures and all aspects of physical skills.  Tri-State's second year at Raceway Park proved it's success here, and also in soon another 40+ other cities, is no fluke and well deserved as they stake claim to that self given title.

1. COURSE- The design of the 12-mile, 32-obstacle course was as much a credit to the masochist Harvard-grads who created the event as it was the natural landscape of the frigid New Jersey marshlands in November.  If you get what I'm hinting at, you can guess what I (and around 20,000 other mudders this weekend!) thought of having to get completely immersed in the murky 38 degree brown swampwater not once, but three or four times.  In between brainfreezing dips were enough obstacles to keep the participant changing speeds and break up the running.  Ranging from the standard wood-built military structure climb/crawls to a many pretty ingenious creations to put your fears to the test, I don't think any other event compares to the variety.  I especially liked the two versions of underground (and in the dark) small-space tunnel crawls in mud and water (again, cold).  Have to also mention the great names attached to some of their obstacles, such as "Chernobyl Jacuzzi" (an ice filled dumpster dive) and "Electroshock Therapy" (running through a corridor of hanging electrified wires), which can only remind everyone that you have to have a little humor while putting yourself through this torture!  GRADE = A

2. FESTIVAL-  This is a two headed answer, you see, because both the event organizer as well as the crowd really determine a post-race festival's success.  Kudos to Big Mudder for providing the live band, contests and games, and the most unique after party "experiences" you can find (REAL Tough Mudder tattoos for $70 charity donation, mohawk haircuts free of charge).  All the ingredients were there, but the problem was that the crowd wasn't!  Blame it on the hypothermic late fall weather in the Northeast or the sheer exhaustion of the thousands that made it through the entire course, but it seemed like more people headed to the parking lot after their headband crowning than to soak up the glory of finishing a TM on site.  GRADE = B

3. SWAG-  Everyone gets a t-shirt, free pint of Dos Equis, and all the Clif Bar samples you could ever want.  But there are no fancy medals, trophies, or any prizes at all for that matter as the spirit of comraderie more or less remove the competitive nature of its event... so what is at stake, you ask?  The prized orange finisher headband that defines you forever from that point onward as a true Tough Mudder!  It may seem chincy to some, but it's really the experience of what you just accomplished and overcame that is what TM wants to reward you with the most, for a nominal $100+ fee of course ;)  GRADE = A