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, Vernon NJ, 9/8/13

With the Spartan Race points season winding down and memories of an amazing 2012 NJ Super last September, expectations for this return to Mountain Creek had me looking forward to this race for many months. If anyone remembers what last year had to offer, it was nothing short of spectacular… a Saturday tornado/hurricane that sent racers into shelters on the mountain, tales of black bear sightings, a ridiculous 23 foot cliff jump and other crazy obstacles, and of course the legit 10.5 miles of mountain terrain that pushed even most elites to over a two hour chip time.  This year?  Barely a shadow of what 2012’s “mini Beast” brought.  Read on…

1. COURSE:  Wondering if a pattern is developing here, but after July’s Pennsylvania race and August’s Amesbury MA race both seemed shortened and maybe a tad easier than the previous year, a lot of chatter began about how Spartan’s might be trying to appeal to more mainstream America and getting soft on their "beat-you-down sufferfest" that was seemingly their schtick of the last couple years. The NJ Super was no different, though I think too much was taken away from what made this a great (and I don’t give that title away much) event in 2012.  This course clocked in right around 8 total miles (at least 2 miles shorter) and lacked what were the sure highlight obstacles utilizing the unique water features of this mountain.  This was the first location we saw the Tyrolean Traverse last year, puzzling runners with how to best go ninja-style across a horizontal cable suspended over a pond, but it went missing here.  And with Mountain Creek’s (formerly Action Park’s) epic high jump into a deep pool below now gone too, the best thrill obstacle Spartan provided seemed unfairly removed.  I know I would have gone back twice just to take that leap again if it was open! What remained was primarily a long trail run with lots of steep hills and just several bunched up obstacles placed every couple miles.  GRADE = B

2. FESTIVAL:  Exact same set up as last year, with a difficult space to hold a true festival due to the layout of base lodge area.  The long “row”of walking space almost had a carnival feel, as you could go from one obstacle viewing area to another like booths at a circus, which was okay though if you wanted to pace along with someone you were watching finish the last few minutes of the race.  There was a decent menu of post-race BBQ grub to choose from, and not too terribly priced as $6-8 got you a nice size sandwich or burger for lunch.  For the roughly 5K runners and their spectators each day, I would say there wasn't enough picnic area to feel comfortable, as seats under the tent were a little tough to come by at peak late morning hours.  GRADE = B

3. SWAG:  This whole year has been devoted to my “Change the shirts, Spartan” campaign, so we don’t even need to go over that topic. What’s been amusing is how their t-shirt distribution process has changed at nearly every venue- from a finish line direct pick up, to a tagged medal ribbon trade-in at a designated tent, to this time a marked wristband check off at yet another tent.  Not a big deal, but I wonder how many others have been confused if/where they get a shirt, or who has probably even left their race never knowing there was one waiting for them, somewhere at the site.  Just my ramblings lol… GRADE = B