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.


Somehow it took me 4 years into this game with over 60 races completed so far, to finally bust out my passport and do an international OCR.  It's pretty awesome to realize the number of countries and choices that we can venture off to do this sport now, compared to even a year ago! A short flight brought me 450 miles north to the capital of our friendly neighbor, to test out Canada's version of Spartan Racing up at Mont Ste. Marie (which was actually one more hour drive further from home) and endure one of their two Beasts for the year.

1. COURSE-   I'm still not totally clear on the formal division between Spartan in the US and Canada, or any other countries for that matter, but I knew there would be differences from what I've heard from pals and research leading up to the weekend.  Things felt more casual and not as intense, which by no means meant there was lesser competition. In a way, it reminded me of how SR was a few years ago, pre-Reebok, with more of the "300" theatrics and less corporate propaganda.  I'm sure the bulk of Canadian regulars who came for this race were used to the routine, but I loved the emcee at the start line dressed in full Spartan cloak and helmet as well as the lady warriors who bestowed your finisher medal around your neck hours later.  In between those two timing mats was a mix of 13+ miles that had shades of current and past Spartan Race styles. Though Norm Koch didn't cut this course out, the many steep climbs and fatiguing downhills seemed all too familiar to another Beast I've done- you know, that little September one over in Vermont.  I have to say, with over a half marathon of mountain trekking, the course was extremely well marked and there never was a single question about right direction.  So, while the trails were up to par, unfortunately I thought most of the obstacles were far below the American standards that have been set.  Every heavy obstacle to lift, carry, or drag was either a much lighter version or accomplished on flat ground as opposed to typically doing those on the worst inclines.  One thing I won't argue over was the spear throw, which was the closest distance I've seen and easily twice the target size of any I've had to do before (thank you for that!).  While these did feel easier by comparison and maybe made for a few sighing moments of relief, it did kind of take away small pieces from the true "sufferfest" experience that most want from Spartan, especially for a Beast race.  The Canadians have teamed up with a company called Platinum Rig to provide an interesting monkey bar/ ring/ rope/ cargo net traversing obstacle as well as spinning pullup station, but part of me might also have preferred to have these instead be 4 or 5 separate obstacles to spread around the course rather than just one spot near the end.  My biggest gripe, which the American Elites have fought and are finally winning the war on, was that there was almost no accountability for obstacle completion (or subsequent penalty enforcement) in the early heats.  When you're playing for money, standings, and points, you need to have a referee blowing the whistle.  Grade = B

2. FESTIVAL-  Again, just a different feel than what I'm used to, starting right with that finisher chute and wondering where the CorePower drinks or Clif Bars went!  A little more scaled down and less showy than US events, but the setup was great as this base lodge had a lot of vendors spread around and plenty of seating to spend theday, which went from a drizzly morning to sunny clear skies midday.  I especially liked the practice spear throw area, which is something I've never seen before at a race (too dangerous?).  Even though the party seemed toned down, it was great for the spectators to view most of the best parts of the race and obstacles while perhaps eating some Poutine or Beavertails (Canadian joke- I don't know if they really served those things, and have never tried them, but apparently that's all Canadians eat? And that was another joke.  Haha.).  Grade = B

3. SWAG-  The previous day (though I wasn't present) Spartan held their Super course here, and gave away a finisher medal with a special Canadian ribbon but then gave the same common gray Reebok Spartan shirt as at other races, including the US.  The Sunday Beast was the opposite story- the medal was actually  the green Beast prize from LAST YEAR (old overstock?) but the finisher shirts are awesome!  It's about time a Spartan Race gave away a tech shirt, which they only did in the US back in 2010, and this one was even distinguished as a Beast edition (reverse shown below).  I was a little disappointed that no traditional paper race bib was provided, only the headband that shows your ID number.  One thing I'm still trying to figure out is how their Trifecta system works, as many Canadians were qualifying here but getting a full commemorative medal right on the spot, unlike our US "pie pieces", which I hope I'm owed a green slice after all that work on Sunday!  Grade = A