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.

RUGGED RUN FOR RESPECT, Wheatley Heights NY, 10/5/13

Not originally on my race schedule, but an invite from friend and course director Matt Lebow (of King of the Mountain Events- who also puts together Civilian Military Combine, High Rock Challenge, and other local NY races) got my curiosity going to take the short 16 mile drive to a rarely found Long Island obstacle course race.  And I just couldn't pass it up when I also learned about the amazing charity this race was affiliated with, as ALL proceeds were being donated to the NY chapter of the Special Olympics.

1.  COURSE- Never meant to be compared to the massive and super competitive OCRs such as Spartan Race, the opening ceremony MC summed up the idea of the Rugged Run For Respect perfectly (paraphrasing): "These obstacles here are only a symbol of the obstacles that those with intellectual disabilities go through every day, which are not over for them once this day is done."  So while some races angle toward the extreme physical limits of exercise, each of their more managable obstacles (cargo nets, ladder and wall climbs) was meant more to slow you down and test your mental stamina and problem solving, while serving as a reminder for all of us who indeed are able to "walk away" from those difficulties afterwards.  The well marked 5k course was mainly flat except for a few hilly spots, and pretty clean besides one crawl obstacle.  I know plans for next year's race will include some type of mud and maybe more obstacles, as the only shortcoming was that it was just over way too fast.  I also want to note that the volunteers for this race, which were at every obstacle, were among the best and very helpful with directions or assisting anyone that needed it.  GRADE = B

2.  FESTIVAL- For the small scale of this event, I didn't expect a huge number of vendors to attend, though I'm sure the Special Olympics strong reputation had something to do with pulling some in.  NY rock radio station Q104.3 provided the music and updates over the speakers, though they packed up before the awards ceremony, which was a little disappointing.  If the finish line bananas and water bottles weren't enough to replenish your body, you could top them off with samples from their two main vendor tents- Nesquik's chocolate milk and Moe's Mexican restaurant's chips and salsa.  Definitely not recommended to consume an unusual combo like that before the race! I believe they had hamburgers and hotdogs for sale too, but it didn't seem like many people hung around after running despite the gorgeous fall weather.  It would have been good to include some activities or contests to keep spectators entertained and to draw runners to stay longer.  GRADE = C

3.  SWAG- The irony of some of the smallest events giving out some of the best swag is something that has appeared frequently, and is very refreshing sight to see.  Their tech t-shirts are really nice quality material, and I particularly like their logo which is prominently featured on the front of their shirt as well as other prizes.  Everyone received a finisher medal, and top 3 males and females won trophies for fastest times. Not to be cliche, but at the end of the day the real winners are the athletes who benefit from all the money raised by these events and donations throughout the year.  It was especially touching to know that Special Olympics provides over 62,000 athletes in New York with competitive sporting events at no cost to them, their families, or caregivers.  This is what more races should be about. GRADE = A