Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ultimate Mud Run: Race Recap

Suze, Kate, Me

Ran the Ultimate Mud Run down in Millville, NJ tonight with Suze and her friend Kate.  Suze told me about this race ages ago and I finally signed up last week when I found a deal on Living Social for $50 (less than a third of the actual entry fee).  Always fun doing races with Suze; it's nice to have a running/racing buddy.

We'll start with the negative:

  • This was the inaugural race, so there were some kinks to work out.  Registration was a nightmare.  Hundreds of people trying to get to a small table made for a 30 minute wait in line.  There was constant confusion if we were even in the right line while we waited.
  • Bag check consisted of putting all of our bags in white trash bags, writing our numbers on them, and dumping them in a corner with absolutely no organization.  After the race we all had to find our own bags, but they all LOOKED IDENTICAL given that they were all in white trashbags.
  • We left in the first wave, and there was an important turn where there wasn't an arrow or volunteer to be seen.  The entire first wave all went right when we should have gone left, and promptly ended up back at the starting line, adding a half mile onto the course.
  • Lack of signage towards the end.  I stopped several times and backtracked to make sure I was going the right way.
  • No water stations in the second half of the race.  I was getting parched by the end.
  • Some of the obstacles were lame.  Most of the mud pits at the beginning were dried up, and the others I was able to jump over. Most volunteers commented that I didn't look very muddy, to which I replied, "add more mud next year, and make it more challenging."
  • I stopped and stepped over the fire obstacles instead of jumping, just to make a point.  

Lamest fire jumping ever.  (photo by Terry Hall)

The positive:
  • It really was a fun race.  Obstacles make for a fun change from regular races, and there was very much a party atmosphere about the whole thing.
  • At one point I had a U.S. Marine following me through a stretch of obstacles, yelling encouragement to me.  I thought that was a nice touch.
  • Because I started in the first wave, I broke free from the pack and pretty much had the entire course to myself.  Bottle necking can get pretty bad at these types of races, and I was happy I didn't have to wait at any of the obstacles.
  • Though this didn't apply to us because we started at 6:30, the majority of the race is held at night.  I can imagine it would be spectacularly badass running through stretches of woods at night with glowsticks and headlamps.
  • Most of the obstacles were fun, if not particularly challenging.  One of my favorites:

The "Cliffhanger."  Photo by Terry Hall

Overall, not a terrible race, but could stand some improvements.  I'm sure if the organizers do it next year, they'll work out some of the kinks and it will be even better.  They offer overnight camping, and I can imagine it might be fun to finish the race and stick around for the post race concert and party, then stumble back to the tent and leave in the morning.

If you can get past the self hype ("Fear is your only true obstacle" according to the T-shirt) and just treat it as a fun alternative race, then all the better.

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