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.

MERRELL DOWN & DIRTY, Denver CO, 6/24/12

My first true "destination race" away from the Northeast, but a familiar event having done the NY Merrell the last two years. In many respects similar to the one they put on in the Bronx, though I might have to comment on them being a little less organized in Colorado if only due to the fact that this was also their first time racing out in the Rockies.

1. COURSE- Despite the elevation, extreme heat (106 on race day!), and scant humidity that I wasn't accustomed to, most other parts of the race were just like a typical "fun run" obstacle race. Those environmental factors did play a part in the course, as it was a long dry and dusty 3 miles- with barely enough water stations to support even the locals from the mile high city. Obstacles were pretty standard for the Down & Dirty Series, my favorite three coming bunched up at the end of the race with a rock climbing wall, slippery slope, and the classic mud pit that has never disappointed. Better spacing or layout of obstacles (and water) would have broken up some of the torturous long jogs between them, but thankfully there were three mud pits in total that I can remember, much needed in that summer heat. There was a good crowd in attendance, but most only got to see the very start and end as the course disappeared far from the spectator area until then. GRADE = B

2. FESTIVAL- They have always done a good job with the afterparty, providing live music and a handful of extra contests or fan-friendly games post-race. A shaded canopy to hide from the sun would have kept more people around after racing, but I suppose that also drew people into the vendor tents (haha strategy?). One of the only events that also includes a burger/chips/drink lunch for racers, saving everyone an extra $7, which is also a decent cost for what spectators can pay too for the same grub. Still can't figure out, though, why Merrell can't get on board with a "free" beer at the finish line that has become almost standard for these events (especially in brew-friendly Colorado!). GRADE = B

3. SWAG- I'll say it again, Merrell still has the best t-shirt giveaway in the mud running sport. Sounds silly, but its probably the one shirt I look forward to most each year (and I pick up a lot of shirts each summer!). Really original colors (charcoal/brown this year) and high quality tech drifit type material make it a nice souvenir. The finisher and top-3 medals are also really nicely designed, though unfortunately their original dogtag style medals are now being copied by many other races in looking for that military theme tie-in. GRADE = A