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, Hartford CT, 6/23/13

This was now my fifth time running a Merrell race, in a third different city, as it was also the first time this series opened up in New England. Having run in the Bronx in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and then also Denver last year, I've learned that one thing Merrell does incredibly well is be consistent with their product.  It doesn't matter where they set up- you know what you are going to get.  I thoroughly enjoy each one of these I do, and hope to try yet another location sometime soon.

1. COURSE-  Keep in mind, MD&D is still what I would consider more of a family fun mud run, rather than  an intense and competitive obstacle race like a Spartan Race or a long grueling challenge like a Tough Mudder.  Either way, their courses are generally short and basic (and fast!), but also a good time and all-kinds-of-muddy!  I always run the 5k race, but its important to note that the 10k version they offer is not just a second lap, and also includes additional obstacles that the 5k doesn't have.  Some new and more creative obstacles have popped up, the best in Hartford being a "tiered" cargo net climb which I'll look forward to seeing pictures of.  Others were just simpler style tasks that other races have also done- sandbag carry (very short distance), wall hurdles (tallest was maybe 4'), and several mud pit crawls (minus barbed wire, but very "down and dirty").  As much as it is a quick event, you still get your money's worth on the course but even more so with everything else that comes with the day (see below).  Grade = B

2. FESTIVAL- Again, smaller than a lot of the other big boys in the mud run industry, but the afterparty has everything that these events should be doing.  Music is always on and there is lots to do before, during, or after you or your friends are racing.  Vendor village runs the entire perimeter of the finish line exit, with everything from fitness contests and food samples to charities and sponsored carnival games.  I didn't get to try it, but the Merrell/REI "zorb" course looked like a blast- akin to running hamster-wheel style inside a bubble wrap sphere.  I would also credit the DJ/announcer (who has been at every one of these races), as he does a great job keeping the day transitioned and informing everyone by loudspeaker just exactly what is going on, where, and when.  A great experience overall, even if you are just a spectator.  Grade = A

3. SWAG-  Best in the game.  Did you hear what I said there?  BEST. Seriously, the take home bag (and yes, they give you a bag too) is legitimately the best offering among these races.  I have always loved the tech t-shirts, which are an interesting and different color each year. It's great to have a nice sweat wicking shirt I will actually wear and work out in, and which isn't another black or white cotton shirt to sit in my drawer (forest green this year; previous have been tan, orange, dark brown).  I guess it helps when your main sponsor is an apparel company!  Everyone gets a dog tag finisher medal, engraved with the year and race logo, and top 3 in age groups also receive a gold/silver/bronze larger dog tag which are presented at a proper awards ceremony on stage podium to "claim your glory", as the DJ says.  First placers (myself and my girlfriend included!) also took home gift certificates for a free pair of Merrell shoes.  Grade = A