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 SPRINT, Concord NC, 4/11/15

I last came through Charlotte Douglas Int'l Airport last October on my way to the South Carolina Super, which was my final Spartan Race of 2014. I guess it only made sense to visit again and start the 2015 Spartan year (though not their "season") here, but just stayed in the Tarheel state for this popular Sprint that was known as one of the muddiest ever in '14.  While these two races about 6 months and 100 miles apart varied in their distance and number of obstacles, both the weather and the mud in each of the Carolinas made the events quite similar.

1. COURSE:  I ran both Saturday and Sunday mornings in Charlotte (actually, in Concord NC) and each day had a different feel due to the effect of the thousands of racers who ran the course between my heats. Like the Sunday SC Super last year, which followed their Beast the day before, running this day 2 Sprint was a much more beaten down, trampled, and muddy course.  Luckily, that included the high grass field runs that got flattened out for a faster Sunday.  As you can imagine, being on a farm in North Carolina, the running was flat and fast and certainly favored the runners over the "obstaclers," which was either good or bad depending on your style.  Particularly toward the end of this course, a row of obstacles needing superior grip (Tarzan swing) and precision skill (spear throw) became incredibly tough even for a majority of elites since they followed wet and muddy areas. Overall, probably the most challenging obstacles were the new horizontal bars with hanging ropes (a combination of two obstacles I saw at the Vermont Beast last year) and the tricky Z-wall traverse that looks like the mainstay version of the previous straight across rock climbing wall. GRADE = B

2. FESTIVAL:  I first thought that parking would be off-site and would be using a shuttle bus system to the venue, which I never like because I always want to go back to my car when I'm finished running but then return to the race to hang out. However, it turned out that wasn't the case and we could park right at Porter Farms not even a hundred yards from the starting line.  The weather turned out to be perfect for both my early morning race heat as well as for relaxing in the festival area afterwards. It might be a personal taste and could be just for this specific race, but I was really enjoying the music of late 90's hard rocking tunes, taking me back to my college days.  There were a lot of vendors with giveaways, but I had to hold back from too much swag greed as I wasn't checking a bag for the flight home.  If I also wasn't so exhausted from the double race weekend, I would have played around with the bunch of fun one-minute Spartan challenges such as the slosh pipe press, pullups, and what might be my favorite- the wall hop burpees (which may also be a sandbag toss over wall version?).  The winner of any of these gets a free race entry! GRADE = A

3. SWAG:  Would it be too greedy to accept 100% full and total credit for Spartan finally taking my suggestion of creating unique t-shirts for the three course distances?  Ok, maybe it wasn't all me, but I was glad to know there will be at least three different new shirts to collect at my SR finish lines this year (as if I need more tshirts!?), and not just the same one over and over like last year.  The general look is not really that much different than the old one, but the slight revision with color in the front logo was something long overdue and necessary, so we'll take it.  The same can be said for the finisher medals, which have been restyled and have a new edgy industrial design to them.  This mark was a consistent "B" for almost all of 2014 Spartan's because of their refusal to produce any swag variety other than what they sell in merchandise, but these all-important upgrades bump it up here, at least for now. GRADE = A