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.

SPARTAN SPRINT, Palmerton PA, 7/13/13

Well worth the 3-4 hour trip from Long Island to Palmerton PA last year, and now swollen to about 10000 participants running for the weekend, excitement was high going into what was probably considered Spartan's toughest Sprint of their entire series.  And like a year ago, I again decided to run it twice- this being my last of several back-to-back weekend day races of the year.  Some unexpected changes to the course were obvious, but not that it necessarily was a bad thing.  No question, SR still delivered a great event as usual no matter how humbling that mountain always is for me (and I'd guess for most of those ~9,999 others too).

1. COURSE-  Much of the same course sections were used again, most memorable having to be the downright horrific sandbag carry up the neverending slope to the peak of Blue Mountain.  We'll also remember the gauntlet of obstacles at the peak, where we were hit consecutively with a monster tire flip (4x), spear throw, monkey bars, and "Hercules" hoist (cinder block pulley) all in a row of a few hundred yard stretch. If I had to pick the most fun (and refreshing), I'd go for the slip and slide with short swim across the chest deep pond which was the best chance to cool down and get a bit of recovery time going into the home stretch. So, most of what the PA Sprint had to offer in 2012 generally was repeated, except... about a mile and a half of the course!  For some reason, and unbeknownst to me during the race, the course was shortened quite a bit from 2012, as my time was a good 30 minutes "faster" than last year.  Either way, the brutal first 2 miles of continuous ascent was enough for me to pray many times over that this race would possibly be shorter!  Hallelujah?  Grade = A

2. FESTIVAL- Pretty standard for a SR, and glad that they were thoughful enough to construct a giant party tent with picnic tables underneath to hide from the sunny afternoon temps approaching 90. There was a good selection of food to purchase, though the health conscience patron might be disappointed with the french fries, pizza, and hot dogs up for sale.  I was hoping to try either the grilled chicken or pulled pork sandwich, but at the time I went to eat my post race lunch (or breakfast, since this was at 9am), that food vendor wasn't ready for business yet.  The pullup contest and wall traverse race that are run for a free entry have always disappointed me, only because they are barely at all publicized and seem to take place almost without anyone knowing when and where.  After a race, I typically just enjoy hanging with my fellow race pals (and VPX Team Xtreme mates!), but it would be nice to see Spartan add more entertainment as many other races will have a DJ or live band to listen to, rather then just hear the Spartan MC's "Thermopylae" speech repeated over and over every 15 minutes!  Grade = A

3. SWAG-  Nothing new to discuss, and if you've read my past Spartan Race reviews for the last year or so, the story remains the same.  I know I'm biased because I run quite a lot of SR's, but after a while this part of the race gets old if it isn't changed or updated to remain on top as Spartan should.  So you can probably just skip this section of my writeup for next month's Spartan at Amesbury MA (and the other half dozen more that I'll do in 2013).  Until they decide to give away anything different than what you see below (shown is reverse of black cotton tee, with both days of finisher medals), they will just maintain this B average on every Report. Only new token in PA and the first Spartan I have done with it, was the headband number bib (not shown) which maybe half the racers wore, since you were also provided with the traditional safety-pinned paper version that I prefer. They were a little skimpy with the finish line refreshments as compared to the Tuxedo Sprint a month earlier, as there was no Zico coconut water or SuperCandy samples here.  I was able to score a nice bowl of blueberries and walnuts (minus the cereal!) from the Weetabix table, which was a major win.  And as usual, my "free" pint of Miller Lite went to an appreciative stranger.  First come, first served for anyone that finds me at a race if they want my beer ticket!   Grade = B