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, Bronx NY, 9/30/12

Always one of my favorite race series, though not high on the list of hardcore competitiveness, I was back for my fourth Merrell in three years, also having done this one in Colorado back in June.  In some ways good and others a little disappointing, the Bronx version has basically remain unchanged since 2010, which is also why it is earning the exact same Report card as last year.

1. COURSE-  Part of the reason I like the Merrell series is that they are a nice, basic course (for once!) that's NOT filled with fire-leaping, ice tub jumping, or insane uphill mountain climbing that I get my fill of from Spartan and other races.  What they give you is more of a traditional runners cross-country race with sporadic (but still fun) obstacles, which does NOT leave you with those bumps, bruises, and cuts- and being able to walk normally the next day!  Usually "around" a 5k distance, but maybe stretching to 3.5 miles, obstacles are spread out probably every half mile or so, but none that will completely drain you (though I saw the 10k version they also run did have sandbag carrying and a monkey bar traverse).  The 5k had all the same challenges as 2011, with the added rock climbing wall and inflatable cargo net climb that I saw in CO too.   The most pleasant for me is always the water tread through the bay, which has been the same design but varied greatly on depth depending on the tide on race day.  Grade = B

2. FESTIVAL-  I've always thought what Merrell does very well is their layout of the entire event, leaving the festival area next to the start, finish, and probably the three best obstacles for spectator viewing. Everything is relatively easy to find from the center area, which focuses on the epic mud crawl and finish line leading right toward the live band and bbq pit.  I do wish they would improve the "shower" area, which has never been anything more than a grid of garden hoses spraying COLD water laid out on a grassy (now muddy) field- I skipped them and bathed in the warmer and more effective beach pond/bay, as did many other racers.  I'd also like to see more in the vendor offerings, which seem to only be promoting their two major sponsors (Subaru and Merrell shoes, of course) and the Operation Gratitude charity.  At least the Marines were still there with the pullup contest, though I skipped it this year.  Grade = B

3. SWAG-  You've heard it from me before, but again, Merrell still holds the industry standard for shirt giveaway.  Every year the same high quality, but different unique colors- brown this year, orange in 2011, tan in 2010.  When are other races going to stop with the cheap all-cotton tshirts and follow what Merrell and now Tough Mudder have realized- light, wicking, "tech" material is the way to go!  Medals are still a winner with the dogtag design.  (Photo shows reverse of tshirt with finisher and 2nd place medals) Grade = A