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.

SUPER SPARTAN aka Mini-Beast, Vernon NJ, 9/9/12

This Spartan Guest Blog comes from veteran obstacle course racer David Kalal, who along with his wife Angela, are completing a Double-Trifecta this year as well as attempting the Ultra Beast in September. To see some videos of these, as well as their other exploits, visit their page at:  It's an honor to share his insights, and appreciate the awesome Report on this epic race!  Enjoy everyone...

When the MudMan asked me to review the Tri-State NJ Super Spartan I was honored and happy to oblige. This is my third year of OCR and the Spartan series is by far, in my opinion, the best. As New Jersey residents, my wife and I had been eagerly awaiting our “home state” Super Spartan.

1. COURSE-  Last year this event was held on Staten Island. The course was a flat, fast, 8 miles that many complained was “too easy.” This year the event was held at Mountain Creek Waterpark, a much more typically “Spartan"- that is to say, mountainous- venue. We had been warned prior to the event that it would be a “mini-Beast” and had shrugged this off as the usual Spartan pre-race boasting. So here I stand with legs still aching, corrected. The course was a brutal 11 miles that included three steep climbs (the first fight off the start) and involved 3000+ feet of elevation change. The final climb was a scree slope that was dizzyingly steep. In between there were the correspondingly steep, loose descents and fast sections of technical trails. Once again, Spartan Race utilized the terrain to create the hardest obstacle of the event. All of the usual obstacles were also there (traverse wall, spear throw, rope climb, walls, over-unders, etc) along with a few nice additions. These included the 18’ or 23’ Cliff Jump (part of the waterpark), a long rope traverse over water, and a delightfully fast waterslide (more of a treat than an obstacle). The rubber-band hop (recently introduced in Utah) was included as well. Racers were forced to bunny hop over logs and under ropes up a moderate hill. This may sound silly, but it’s exhausting. There was a decently long sandbag carry and a tractor pull which had the added twist of forcing racers to get their concrete block over a section of large rocks. The barbed wire, a signature Spartan challenge, lived up to its usual impressiveness, both for its length, sharp rocks and uphill nature.  The only complaints I heard from racers were that it was too hard (sorry, this is what you get at a Spartan Race), and that there were long stretches without obstacles. I can empathize the latter issue. The last 4 miles were loaded with the majority of the obstacles, perhaps with the intent of allowing greater spectator access.  GRADE = A+

2. FESTIVAL-  I ran two heats back to back starting at 8am. By the time I was finished barely had the energy to grab my free beer and slink back to the hotel, but the festival looked quite enjoyable. There was music and DJ entertainment all day long as well as a Pull-up and Wall Traverse contest. The kids race course looked like a blast as well. There were plenty of hoses stocked with Dial soap and as adequate number of bathrooms. Vendors were plentiful and included Innov-8, Gaspari Nutrition, Body Fuel, and Zico Coconut water booths. There was also a variety of food for purchase. Apparently, the party continued into the night at the lodge.   GRADE = A

3. SWAG-  According to the Spartan web page this is what you get:
* Finishers Medal - High quality and customizable with your Team name, finishing time, etc. with the purchase of an iTab (an additional 10$).
* T-Shirt - There’s been a bit of a flap over the shirts lately. This year Spartan introduced sex-specific shirts, much to my wife’s delight. However, at one venue the volunteers weren’t told which resulted in a number of people getting a shirt meant for the opposite sex. At this race I asked the volunteer who said there was only a uni-sex shirt. I think the sex-specific shirts are great, but they should be at every event and the people handing them out should be made aware of the difference.
* Free Beer ticket (21 and over) - The Spartan beer of choice in the PA/NJ area seems to be Long Trail Brewery and I have no complaints with that decision. It’s nice to get a quality local micro-brew.
* DJ Entertainment – the Spartan Announcer, Billy, does a great job of firing up the crowd (see above).
* Tired legs from climbing up and down the mountain - Almost an understatement given this course!
* Good views of the area - There were spectacular views of the valley from the top of each of hills we climbed. Hopefully, racers weren’t too exhausted to turn around and appreciate them.
* Wet and muddy clothes – A guarantee for any OCR, but one of the nice aspects of most Spartan races is that they are not “mud runs” which force you through a goopy, sticky morass of mud just for the sake of getting dirty. The NJ Super was no different and, although I came away covered in dirt it was all honestly acquired.
* Bragging Rights – This last one may be a bit intangible, but judging by some of the comments I heard from racers who had, many over the course of hours, completed this “mini-Beast” – this is definitely part of the take away. I saw people sporting their medals and tee-shirts at a restaurant many hours after the event was over.
GRADE = A- (the minus reflects the ongoing t-shirt confusion- photo provided by Mudman)