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 BEAST, Killington VT, 9/22/13

The Spartan Race World Championship...  yeah, kind of a big deal!  By all counts, this was the biggest and most hyped obstacle course race event in the WORLD, and even perhaps in the sport's history.  With weeks of chatter about the course being even more brutal than 2012's Vermont Beast, plus excitement surrounding a $250K cash/prize purse and coverage by NBC Sports Network, there left no doubt that Killington was THE place to be this weekend.  With Olympians and pro athletes from all over the planet attending, an America King and Queen were crowned on Saturday's race as the 2013 Spartan "season" officially closed and 2014 began.

1.  COURSE:  So much to say on this, and difficult to even wrap my head around everything that the Beast was and wasn't (I ran Sunday's less packed but much muddier race).  Most GPS recordings showed about the same 14 mile distance as last year, but anyone who came back can tell you it felt different.  Killington Mountain is one of the monster ski resorts of the east, and uphill climbs were to be expected, but somehow it seemed like the mountain grew since last September.  Part of it had to be the nature of some of those uphill sections, now with two sandbags carries (one the standard "pancake" carry but before that a punishing 60# construction sandbag up a neverending incline) and in the middle of them a 5 gallon bucket carry with a twist- having to fill it to the very top with gravel, carry it below the shoulder (no handle either) and return it still full.  Grueling!  A lot of people complained at the three water obstacles about the chilly lake temps. I will say that while the swim and bridge rope climb was difficult, having to do the second swim to climb another rope/ladder for the near-impossible Tarzan swing (and resulting burpees for most) did signal the mental fight for a lot of runners, as some were approaching hypothermia or more commonly going down with leg cramps here. Then to make it more fun, another mile later was the Tyrolean Traverse and it's threat of another set of burpees (or more for Elites who were required to make three attempts if they failed, with 30 burpees each time!).  So to summarize... for myself and maybe some of you, I thought the toughest Beast obstacle was really the psychological battle- pushing further than the body wanted and making you get used to that feeling of discomfort, and for a very long time. Of course, being prepared enough with the months of conditioning that led up to race day and running a smart, safe race with fuel and supplies needed are part of it, but anyone that finished this race should be proud to call themselves a "beast" no matter what their chip time.  GRADE = A

2.  FESTIVAL:  Being that I ran on Sunday and missed the action at the bigger event on Saturday, I have no doubt that it was like the hangover after a prom for most that stuck around to see Day 2, including staff and the racers that came to watch or even run again.  It also rained and was much colder, but the hype was minimal and not much was happening after the race (not that you want to do anything after running for 5 hours!).  Some of the fun was seeing the UltraBeast racers and team Death Race participants also coming in to the finish line, but as far as the games and excitement, it seemed like Sunday missed the party.  I'll be fair... in my dreams I picture an unbelievable Saturday post-race with all the bells and whistles worthy of an "A", and for Sunday I'll rate it just a quiet, rainy, cold "C".  Split the difference... GRADE  = B

3.  SWAG:  Oh how I wanted to break the streak and give Spartan a better grade than they have been earning all season at this, their premier event of the year.  I do love the Beast medal with its unique mountain range graphic ribbon including the date and name of race (and for anyone that did the Ultra- congrats and their medal is even more amazing!).  But that's where the kudos ends, at least on Sunday. I don't know if the finisher shirts were anything new, but that's because they had no more when I was done racing.  And I was so excited to pick up my Trifecta medal and commemorative shirt, but they ran out of those too! This just shouldn't happen, and I am waiting to hear how SR will send out our missing swag.  GRADE, as always = B

(photo includes a personal "Spartan" shirt some friends made up for me- not the finisher giveaway- which I thought was more appropriate anyway for this race than whatever standard black tee they were giving out again)