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.

TOUGH MUDDER, Old Bethpage NY, 8/16/15

It's been about two and a half years since I ran my last Tough Mudder back at 2013's Miami event, but when they announced this OCR behemoth was coming to pay a visit to my home turf on Long Island, I cleared the weekend's schedule immediately to make my triumphant return.  I was always surprised that our population-dense suburban area had never hosted a truly major obstacle race before (besides Spartan's CitiField race), but the gift of so many people is also a logistics curse- for space, traffic, and expenses- and it unfortunately continues to be a local OCR deadzone.

1. COURSE-  Now, if you haven't been to Long Island before, keep in mind that we are at sea level and at best have "mountains" that scorch the sky at a whopping 300-400 feet of altitude lol.  Everything is flat here, and the Old Bethpage Village Restoration was no different for nearly all of its stretched, winding course.  GPS readings clocked the event at right around 8 miles- not the 9+ that they listed, and certainly not the 10-12 miles that are typical for TM's.  The fact that they went shorter with the course was actually good, but to be honest I think they could have even cut out another couple of miles of unnecessary runs. Some parts were literally a trail that you'd end up only finding a water station a few hundred yards down that road, and then to return running the same path just on the opposite side of the cones.  I think the design of their running sections could have also been a twofold strategy- to obviously inflate the distance to approach their typical length, and to also give a winding tour of this beautiful 200+ acre colonial town of 19th century homes, farms, and businesses.  I know there was a lot of controversy with them holding the event in this open-air museum, for fear of damage to the historic lands and buildings.  But since most of the running stayed on already established trails or roads, and came nowhere within even 10 yards of a structure, the protesters should be at ease now. Unfortunately, I'm going to guess that they were also limited on digging and making any changes to the grounds, as this was the least muddy Mudder I've ever done.  From an obstacle standpoint, where they are often among the pioneers of creative and Fear Factor invoking tasks, they went light as well.  The best obstacle was undoubtedly their "King of the Swingers" Tarzan trapeze swing to hit a bell dangling way ahead above a deep pool (which you'd drop to, even if you missed).  Both their signature "Everest" quarter pipe run and "Funky Monkey" bars had new 2.0 versions, but to me they seemed a little easier than the originals.  I had heard about special Legionnaire-only (repeat Mudder) access obstacles, but they did not exist besides a very quick "Dead Ringer" traverse at the end, and that was just as an option to skipping their famed Electroshock Therapy.  A few other new ones also made their appearance, but weren't even worth mentioning. Overall, it just didn't feel up to par for the big guys' first visit to Long Island.  GRADE = B

2. FESTIVAL-  I forget a lot of how Tough Mudder used to set up their festival village, but they certainly have expanded, and this was the size of an entire parking lot (hmm, ideas...?).  Maybe the extra mile or two on this course was actually included in touring around the many tents and sponsor tables haha.  We did run into one problem that has become a pet peeve of mine- since no on site parking was available (more on that in a minute), you had to bring with you everything you needed for post-race, and that also meant a $10 bag check fee.  They did have good, but cold, shower stations set up, but then really no comfortable place to lounge around unless you wanted to wander off into the Park. So, getting to the site was done by one of two ways for these 10000 Mudder runners, but both received a lot of complaints.  The LI railroad offered "free" (or, somehow included in your entry purchase I'm sure) rides to a nearby train station, but then of course you had to take a shuttle school bus the rest of the way.  The majority parked at not-so-nearby Nassau Coliseum, which wasn't free, and then had a looooong bus ride to the event in Old Bethpage.  Maybe I'm just being picky because I live so close, and actually had a longer total commute than if I drove directly on my own.  I don't know, but either way, I hope something better is figured out as they plan to return here next summer.  GRADE = C

3. SWAG-  I DO remember at my last Tough Mudder in 2013, walking away with a nice Under Armour sweat-wicking finisher shirt.  So why, after TM went back on their earlier decision of NO shirts in 2015, did they revert to giving a cheap cotton style like the one I got at my first TM four years ago??  Cellucor seems to be their major sponsor now, so we did also get a nice surprise mini gym towel from them.  Supposedly the Shock Top beer tent was a popular post-race stop, but I still have my green ticket for anyone that wants it for your next Mudder. And while a lot of OCR diehards out there still give them flack about the headband (instead of a medal), they need to know that it's always been their trademark gift, and as supposedly 2 million Mudders have now crossed the finish line, it also wont be changing anytime soon (read: ever!).  This event was also special to me, not just because it was 20 minutes from home, but that I finally got to officially join Mudder Legion and pick up my rainbow of overdue souvenirs from now finishing my 4th of their events (#1 Tri-State NJ 2011, #2 Poconos PA 2012, and #3 Miami 2013).  GRADE = B