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, 9/21/14

And just like that, according to the ancient calendar of Joe DeSena, we are already now into the year of 2015.  Saturday's Vermont Beast World Championship (and Philadelphia's stadium) race closed out the official season, crowning their annual kings and queens of Spartan Race in front of thousands of fans, as well as TV cameras which will broadcast their coverage on NBC's lineup in mid-November.  Like last year, regardless of which day you could attend, this was a can't-miss race and pretty much the only thing on the minds and social media of any OCR fan this week.

1.  COURSE-  Anyone who began to pour over the Facebook statuses of its participants could start to pretty easily recite the lines, which typically began "The hardest race I have done...", and justifiably so. I've said that for the last few years that I've gone, and this year only superseded what myself or anyone else had written about it in the past. It's simply the longest, most physically grueling, most mentally challenging, and at times also the most emotionally draining event in OCR.  And for those that can't get enough of that type of thing, the Ultra Beast returned for the sicko's (and I mean that in the nicest way!) who wanted TWO laps of this torture.  What's great about this particular race is that it's one which is literally talked about year-round, not just because of it being the finale of another race season, but the endless memorable moments, obstacles, and locations throughout Killington Mountain that are felt by everyone who completed the course.  This year added a few new items to the Beast menu, courtesy of mastermind Norm Koch, beginning most noticeably with approximately 2 extra miles and at least several thousand feet more elevation gain (GPS tracking has varied a little on those exact stats) from 2013's VT Beast.  A couple new gymnastical (new word, trademarked by me) obstacles were introduced that were difficult but also among the most fun, as the Canadian-borrowed Platinum Rig and another hanging horizontal pole traverse were only completed by the better American Ninja Warrior enthusiasts.  The weather was kind to us this September, and the several famous water obstacles that made their return (lake Tarzan swing and Tyrolean Traverse) weren't as terribly frigid as we all seem to remember.  And whether you were an elite or open racer, you're burned with the visions of nonstop killer uphills and heavy tasks that came all-so-close to making you quit- but hopefully you didn't! And three final words to add, if this all wasn't enough already: double sandbag carry.  Ouch!  GRADE = A

2.  FESTIVAL-  I can only imagine the atmosphere that I missed on Championship Saturday, with supposedly 10000 athletes and 17 countries represented all in this quiet ski town in central Vermont. Plus the exciting fact that many of the top finishers were non-American and non-Spartan Pro Team, I'm sure only fueled the crowd that must have loved the underdog efforts.  They had a great setup, a different location than before, which allowed access to the nearby base lodge and a solid vendor village, all near the adjacent parking as well.  Even though Sunday wasn't the "money race", the action of having the day 2 Beast, UltraBeast, and also the Sprint races running concurrently, still brought a lot of spectators and lots of great athletes to celebrate.  GRADE = A

3.  SWAG-  For everyone there, this weekend was about getting through the toughest race of their year and getting the coveted Beast medal.  To my delight, VT offered their best version of that with a new commemorative World Championship edition, which is my favorite Spartan medal to date!  On top of that, a huge percentage of racers were also going to complete their Trifecta (or second, third, etc), as everyone also received the green slice of the pie.  Spartan apparently also now sells a collectible frame to store the completed amulet, but those were sold out at the merch tent by the time I finished racing on Sunday.  The shirt you see is unfortunately not from this weekend (from July's Ottawa Spartan Beast), as I had hoped they'd come through with something better than the standard issue tee that has littered all of our drawers by now.  Either way, the medal dominates this category and still ensured the event a perfect report card, an improvement from 2013.  GRADE = A