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.

VIKING OBSTACLE RACE, Greenville NY, 5/10/14

If you read my previous week's Report on the High Rock Challenge, with it's local charm and beyond great efforts to make its participants really happy (and hopefully coming back!), then this race did it even better! In only it's second ever race built on the Sunny Hill Resort, a family owned summer-rental getaway property in upstate NY, the 5.6 miles of trails and 30 or so permanent obstacles were incredible, leaving me to proclaim this event quite possible as the "best obstacle race you've never heard of (yet)."

1.  COURSE- I'll admit that I did try to preview what this race was about from a few YouTube videos and blog writeups that were out there, but still I came in a little skeptical because quite often these family-owned small-name events fail to satisfy, especially for someone like myself who can safely say is a veteran of doing these races.  I have never been so pleasantly surprised though!  I'm not sure what the total acreage of Sunny Hill is, but it seemed we must have ran through several counties during this hour-plus of not just great running trails, but parts that included several ponds or streams, numerous quick bouldering maneuvers and a bunch of hopping/ducking through the naturally fallen trees.  Throw in some of the most unique wooden-structure obstacles, designed with the help of OCR mastermind Rob Butler (of Shale Hill VT fame- another stop this summer!), and we truly have a top notch challenge.  The sheer scale and different take on some of these climbing obstacles, like a combo pole and rope climb or the longest wall traverse I've ever seen (my fingers were literally numb from all the gripping after!) were a step up from even what I've done at Spartan's or Mudder's.  There were some borderline scary heights as well, as another rope climb to around 25 feet and several cargo nets or ladders walls that reached the same altitude certainly made you be secure with your hand holds!  It didn't stop there either, as the low-element aspects like a few tree log balance beam obstacles (which were also slippery and another even underwater) sent a lot of people falling and subject to some burpee time, akin to the Spartan Race penalty system.  GRADE = A

2.  FESTIVAL-  Now I can't say that this afterparty was a raging kegger or anything on par with Tough Mudder's wild fame, but this is where the true nature of the resort/race hosts came out, as they treated everyone like they were a guest in their home (which literally might have been the case, as racers could actually stay for the weekend too). A fantastic BBQ lunch buffet was put out for the crowd, including burgers and hotdogs and a number of salads.  They even had a DJ to entertain during this lunch picnic, where everyone was welcomed to stay as long as they wanted for the afternoon, and encouraged to tour around the property to see all the great amenities the resort has to offer- two golf courses, many sport courts, swimming pool, etc. It was this hospitality that I wish I could give an even higher grade for, but it has at least made me decide I want to come back and visit, regardless of it being a race weekend or not (the obstacle course is also available for year round training sessions for a very low fee).  GRADE = A

3.  SWAG- Once again, like last week's race, the little-known event puts out a great souvenir package.  I can now say I have my first lime-green and purple tshirt, which I'm more likely to wear than the pile of black or grays from other races, but the really sweet take-away was the unique "woodallion", a finisher medal like I've never seen before.  So well done overall, the only shame being that this race hasn't yet gotten the word out.  But also like High Rock Challenge or other local races, it may be that fact that keeps it to a quality we don't want to share (too much) with the masses?  GRADE = A