This was my third race in three weeks, people thought I was nuts for doing back to back to back races but I just think its fun! And it’s also a great way to challenge myself and see what this body can handle. So we loaded up the cars at Wickedmuddy Headquarters and off we went to take on another Ruckus Boston! The weather this year was so much better than 2012, the sun was shining and no one was shivering holding their beers, thank goodness! We had a good size team this year, Tori, Donna, Rob, Matt, Leeann, Brian, Aly, and the Badasses in Training (BITs), Sam and Cate. We even got a last minute pep talk from some Sweet Frogs before we started the race! I need to convince them to join our team next year
Parking: Parking was a breeze again this year and plenty of signs to tell us where to go. We actually parked in the same spot we did last year, right on the ball field across the street from the fairgrounds so it wasn’t far of a walk to registration, a bonus in my eyes. It did cost us $10 again which we have come to expect with mud racing so I can’t take off any points for that. But what I thought was interesting were the people who were allowing racers to park on their lawn, which again is fine, but they charged the same amount as Ruckus parking! If you want people to park further away you may want to charge $5 instead of $10 people, just saying :p Grade: A
Venue: Marshfield Fairgrounds is an excellent venue for Ruckus. It’s wide open in most areas of the fairgrounds themselves and they utilize the surrounding woods very well. It’s easy to make a 4 mile race and not feel like you are going in circles! Plus spectators have a great few of the obstacles from various areas of the venue Grade: A
Ease of Registration: Registration was done based on bib numbers and the lines didn’t seem to be all that long. And if you forgot your bib number they had a list of them hanging up so you can look it up, love that especially since I forgot what my bib number was, whoops! Once I made it to my line I handed the woman my ID and my waiver and she gave me my bib number. Apparently though she didn’t give me my ID bracelet for a free beer once I finished, you know I had to go back for that! We also were given our t-shirts at registration this year. I thought the t-shirts were ok, last year’s were much nicer tech material. This year the material was in between a tech shirt and a cotton shirt and it also had a new logo on it. The new logo was cool and you saw it on the course as the caution tape had it on there. Grade: A
Bathrooms/Changing area: Big upgrade since last year’s race, they didn’t have any tents to change in or hoses to wash up with. The Fearless Fall 5k did have changing tents and hoses though so someone was listening :) We were happy to see them still there! The hoses were just standard garden hoses but that was fine, as long as I can get the mud off I don’t care how the water is delivered. Huge negative though, they ran out of water!! Apparently they had one water truck and about 40 minutes after we were done changing, which was around noon, we had teammates come back from watching the Mini Ruckus to tell us there was no water. Boo! No one likes to hang out afterwards in muddy clothes. Not sure if there was another water truck brought in for Saturday but hopefully Sunday didn’t have the same fate! The changing tents were plenty big and there were a good amount of porta-potties for everyone, we like that!! Grade: C- (because of running out of water)
The Course: I believe the key to success for any race that comes back year after year is to change up the course! Ruckus Boston doesn’t seem to have any issues changing the course as each time we do the race it seems to be different. The first thing we noticed as that they changed the way the starting line formed. For years heats would take off every half hour or so in smaller groups. This year Ruckus changed things up and start times were hourly. When I got this email I was confused, wouldn’t starting everyone on the hour make for larger groups going off at once? Once we got there though we noticed how they set things up. Similar to a regular road race that has average pace times, you lined up where you thought your “pace” would be. I believe it was labeled “Wicked Fast”, “Sorta Fast”, and two other corrals that implied you weren’t going to move with as much speed as the first two. It was definitely crowded and we were only able to make our way to the second to last corral before being stopped. At 10 am they let the “Wicked Fast” racers head off and it seemed like every 5 minutes or so they let the next corral go. Then it was our turn, except they cut our corral in half. A Ruckus worker had said that they didn’t want there to be a backup at the first few obstacles so they were holding is back 2 more minutes. Fine by me, my time didn’t start until I crossed the start line anyway. Finally it was our turn to go and we were at the front and saw Rob and Elena! We gave them a wave and off we went!
Many of the obstacles were same but they did add in some new ones to keep things “fresh”. One of the first obstacles we encountered we had to jump up on some hay bales and then climb over a container box. Seemed easy enough but when I got to the top of the hay bales I realized there was nothing to grab on to at the top of the container box and I was too short to get over. Thankfully there was a nice gentleman in a military uniform working as a volunteer who offered his assistance! I soon realized that these awesome volunteers were throughout the entire course! Quickly we made our way into the woods where we would run a good majority of the time. I definitely love trail running but you really need to be careful you don’t twist an ankle, we saw a woman go down at the water station, she looked ok but I am sure she was in the same situation as Mahk was at Tough Mudder!
We hit a tire pit before heading into an open field which included short walls that I could easily make it over and then there were some taller walls that had a rope to pull yourself over. There is one house where the people are always outside cheering the racers on, we love it! We actually wondered if they would be there this year with music and sure enough they were! Looking back at one point you can just see a sea of racers, it was a really cool view! Then it was back at it, running more trails. The one negative to some of the trail running was that it was single file, if you got caught behind someone walking you had to walk as well, there was no way around it. And because of the rain we got right before the race there was definitely some areas that were extremely muddy. People were trying to make their way around it but come on people, it’s a mud race, we paid to get muddy!
We finally made our way back to the fairgrounds and encounter the majority of the obstacles. Ruckus Boston also offers a heater race which is only 2 miles as opposed to our 4 mile race so most of the obstacles were in the last 2 miles because of this reason. There were mud pits, a balance beam, cargo nets, and mud crawls. Then we noticed a new obstacle, it was a series of three vertical walls that were on a slight incline and you had to run as fast as you could and continue to run as you reached for the top of the wall or someone’s hand. This was definitely challenging especially since some pretty sweet mud puddles were starting to form making it nearly impossible to run towards the walls. It actually looked like by the time we ended they had shut these walls down. I was proud that I was able to make it up these walls, it was definitely challenging! Once we made it over the walls there was one last mud crawl before we hit Mt Ruckmore!
Mt Ruckmore was definitely a huge hit with Team Wickedmuddy.com and I would bet that most people would say this was their favorite obstacle. Except this year they took what was this monstrous obstacle and turned it into a bouncy house slide. It was still pretty fun but you didn’t get the same speed as you did in last year’s two races. I say bring back the old one!
At the finish line we all received a pint glass instead of a medal, some water, and a banana. I really liked the pint glass idea, I thought it was unique! Some reviews I have seen though apparently thought the pint glasses were a safety hazard. Unless you are smashing it on the ground I am not sure I understand that one. I used my free shirt and wrapped the glass in it so I made sure it had less of a chance to break. Medals are fun but really how useful are they?? Mine just sit in a pile in my cubicle at work collecting dust, with a pint glass I can pour myself a nice beer and enjoy!
The course overall was fun but we definitely noticed the absence of a few obstacles we loved like the Ranger Bars, the Air Loops, and the monkey bars. Ok I wasn’t terribly disappointed to not see the monkey bars but I wanted to try and kick some butt on the Air Loops since they weren’t there for the Fearless Fall 5k. And the Ranger Bars I believe are a signature Ruckus obstacle, no other race does those. Bring them back pretty please Grade: B+
After Party/food: We at Wickedmuddy.com love a great after party and this year Ruckus Boston had a great one! Maybe it’s the combination of the good weather, great people to hang out with, and the beer but we really enjoyed ourselves! For our free beer we got one Coors Light, last year was Harpoon which would have been a nice offering. But free beer is always welcome regardless of what kind it was! For purchase they had Coors Light and Blue Moon, both reasonably priced at $4.50. The food smelled amazing, they had the awesome burgers from B.Good again as well as a brick oven pizza place, the BITs seemed to really enjoy their pizza even though it took them 25 minutes to get it! We ended up parking ourselves in front of the slide and enjoyed watching teams of people coming down, with huge smiles on their faces! They had some music playing as well a few vendors including a local CrossFit gym, Honest Tea, Zico Coconut Water, LaraBars, a local t-shirt company, the National Guard, and 98.5 the Sports Hub. By far the most vendors we have seen at a race this year! The one thing I did notice is that there is no merchandise tent from Ruckus. All of the bigger races we have been to so far have had tents with other merchandise for purchasing including t-shirts, tank tops, hats, glasse, stickers, etc. I bet people would buy this stuff it was offered, just an idea! Grade: A
Overall Grade: A- Ruckus Boston has been around now since 2010 and every year we make the journey down to the Fairgrounds we always have a great time! This was our third mud race in our inaugural 2010 season (after their Shawnee Peak Challenge, which we think they should bring back!) and have yet to be disappointed. Every year it seems as though the Ruckus Team takes racers comments and opinions into consideration and really try to work hard to make a race that everyone will enjoy! And the Mini Ruckus is always a nice touch, any time you can get the entire family involved is great! I am definitely looking forward to seeing what Ruckus has in store for years to come, the Fearless Fall 5k has already been announced and we are going to get a team together for that one! Who wants to join us??
A big THANK YOU to Elena for taking some awesome pictures of everyone racing!!! Also I cannot say enough about how awesome the volunteers were throughout the course! They were cheering everyone on the entire time and that’s exactly what we need to hear while running!
Less than 1 week after Team Wickedmuddy.com took on Tough Mudder Boston at Gunstock, we were right back at it, this time it was the SuperHero Scramble at Amesbury Sports Park! Because of Mahk’s ankle he wasn’t able to compete, so he came and helped to cheer us on. But I had an awesome team to help me along the way, Leeann, Chris, Rob, Elena, Diane, and Dave we rockstars and we made it through the heat and the ridiculously muddy course!
The day started off a little hectic though! Tropical Storm Andrea decided to come spread some love to the New England area and it made things messy that is for sure. The officials at SuperHero Scramble made the decision to delay start times 3 hours, mean our 10:30 start time was now 1:30. Thankfully Mahk saw this email on his way home Friday night as I was in bed resting up for the race. But some people didn’t see this until early in the morning when they were on their way out the door. I don’t know how many people made it to parking realizing no one was there. I also realize many people had to bail out on the race all together because of the delayed start times. Many people pick the earlier heats because this allows them to race and then also have the afternoon free to have other plans. I think this was evident by the size of the crowds once we got to Amesbury, it definitely did not seem as busy as other races.
Did SuperHero Scramble make the right call? Some will argue yes and some will argue no. Two years ago there was a similar situation for the Warrior Dash where torrential rain came through the area and the event still went off on time. The course was a nightmare and many people ended up getting injured because of this. Oh and not to mention the “rash”. As much of a hassle it was for some they made their call and whether it was their decision or the town’s decision it was made and people need to accept that. I am going to guess though that some people will think they should get a refund. Doubt it will happen though, we make the choice to sign up for these races regardless and it says right on there no refunds. Good luck arguing that point!
So how was the race once everything was sorted out? On to the review!
Parking: It has become pretty standard it seems like that parking for any Amesbury Sports Park event happens at the Seabrook Dog Track. The first year we did a race it was a complete shit show with parking so this works out well! They fill up the parking lot and usually have a few porta potties that people can use while they wait in line. Then the buses come and pick you up and drop you off. One location so there is no confusion! The only negative is $10 to park on top of registration, isn’t there a way to add this in to the cost of registration? I understand that the use of the parking lot most likely is not free and someone needs to get paid, but add in say $1 or $2 to every entry and then pay them that way. If you up your price for an event fine but I already paid now it feels like your nickel and diming me. Grade: B
Venue: Amesbury Sports Park seems to be the place to have a mud race these days in the New England Area. I was commenting on Saturday to Mahk that I wonder if they ever thought that they would be using their property for things like this when they first opened the place. For the amount of people that can come to these events it never seems crowded which is nice. They have the tents set up for food/beer and everyone seems to find a spot on the Astroturf to hang out. Grade: A
Ease of Registration: Registration was pretty straightforward and there were no huge backups which was nice! It was done by your bib number which SuperHero Scramble had sent out on Thursday. But if you didn’t remember it they had them printed out for you to look up and a volunteer was there to help. Once you had that you made it to your line with your waiver were a volunteer checked your ID and then a second volunteer gave you your bid and timing chip. Grade: A
Bathrooms/Changing area: There was the sea of porta potties once you entered the venue which was awesome. Even after we had raced there was still even toilet paper, hooray!!! Even though there was a flag that said “shower” there was no showers. Unless you really want to call the snow making machine a shower which I guess did clean some people off. I was too short to even get hit with the water so I used my muddy shirt as a towel to wipe off as much mud as I could. A few garden hoses would have went a long way! And where were the changing areas?? There were no tents to change into so either people stayed in their muddy clothes, had a friend hold up a towel to change, or if you were like me made your way to the porta potty to change there. I am not sure how hard it is to set up two addition tents for people but it would be nice if that could be offered, people want to hang out but if they are muddy and gross they may be more likely to head home. Grade: C-
The Course: We ended up starting at 1:45 due to the additional delay once we got to the venue. The Elite Heat went off at 1pm so it pushed things back a little more. The new trend seems to be overcoming an obstacle to get to the start line and this one was no different. There was a 10 foot wall between you and the start line. Once we made it over we waited to start, the MC giving us some last minute information which included the penalty for not completing an obstacle, 10 burpees (whatever your definition of one is, mine has the pushup but I saw a lot of squat thrusts out there) and 10 SuperHero spins. Ummmm what kind of spin??? Basically it was their version of Dizzy Bat, you had to spin around a poll with your head ten times, I think we all remember this from our youth. Here is my opinion on burpees/penalties. I get that they want there to be some sort of consequence with obstacle, but I think if you attempt the obstacle and just can’t complete it for whatever reason (I couldn’t even reach the rings because I am vertically changed) you shouldn’t have to do them. If it’s the elite heat for money ok fine add the penalties but what does that accomplish? If you chose to skip an obstacle for whatever reason then fine put them in there. But if I give it my best effort then why should I be penalized? Again, this may cause some controversy here on the site but hey I am entitled to my opinion right? You are more than welcome to express yours!
As soon as the MC gave us the foghorn to start we quickly proceeded up the hill, down the hill, then up the hill one more time. This is probably the hardest part about the terrain at Amesbury. Yes they have trails on their property with some inclines but nothing as brutal as that! It has to be for the winter so kids have a blast sledding down :) Once we finally made it to the top we encountered our first obstacle, we had to climb a cargo net up and then we had to make our way horizontally across another cargo net, and then climb down a third one. The horizontal cargo net is always a challenge, do you try and make across, without getting arms and legs stuck through the openings or do you roll? I opted to roll which seemed to be ok, I was able to keep my arms and legs from falling through. As soon as we were finished we gathered everyone and off we went running in the woods.
Tropical Storm Andrea definitely did a number on the trails; to say they were muddy would be an understatement! The hardest part about running trails when you have to go through mud puddles is that you can’t see how deep a puddle is or if there was a rock that you could catch and twist your ankle on which Chris pointed out. As Mahk always says, you have to respect the course! Through the woods we had to crawl under some barbed wire, one of which said “Real Barbed Wire”, as if the others weren’t? Once we made it out of the woods we saw a mile 2 sign and we approached the Leap of Faith. For those of you who are familiar with Walk the Plank at Tough Mudder this is very similar. This was awesome since last weekend Walk the Plank was closed. When you are looking at it from ground level it really doesn’t look all that bad. But when you climb to the top you realize how high you are. I think we said it was about 15 ft off the ground but I could be wrong, I just remember it felt high! There were a few people who made it to the top who need some encouragement to jump but no one was every forced to do it or made to feel silly if they didn’t. Leeann and I made it to the edge, I looked down, may have mumbled “Oh Shit” and I leaped, closing my eyes the entire time. It was a good few seconds before I finally hit the water!
Next up were the rings, way more challenging in my opinion than the monkey bars! I saw some pretty impressive people, including our teammates, who breezed across like nobody’s business! Dave rocked the rings on his second attempt, you would have thought he was a pro! Then it was my turn. I couldn’t even reach the ring and when I tried to swing I couldn’t even grab the next one, down into the water I went. I contemplated cannon balling right in but like I said earlier, I always attempt each one. We headed back into the trails, some pretty slippery downhill ones right away. We had to do a cinderblock pull and sandbag carry which weren’t all that challenging but the sandbag carry we had to go in and out of the stream, which was a nice touch! There was an obstacle we passed that had been closed, most likely do to Andrea. Damn you Andrea!!! It appeared to be a rock climbing wall but I am not sure.
We made it out of the woods and approached mile 3 before hitting the open field again for a few more obstacles. There were the over/under/through walls, although I clearly didn’t hear the volunteer say under and I went over (it was short and I didn’t need any help so I was excited!) and I whacked my shin pretty hard, serves me right I guess! Then we had the mud pits where we had to climb over the mud piles and into pretty gross muddy water, yuck! But it was starting to get warm by this point so the muddy water felt pretty damn good if you can believe that. The final obstacle in the open field was the balance beam. It was pretty wobbly, some people attempted to walk across but most people sat their butt on the beam and shimmied, which was not any easier that is for sure! Poor Rob went for the walking and nearly hit his head on a beam, we were glad he was ok! It will make for some excellent Go Pro Footage though! We all made it across one way or another and we saw the mile 4 sign, we knew we were almost done!
As we came out of the woods we approached the first obstacle again but this time we noticed ropes hanging from where we had been earlier. I watched as people breezed up to the top, I was so jealous and realized I need to work on my upper body strength a little more! I made it up one knot but didn’t have the strength to keep going, bummer! As soon as you came out of the rope climb you had to make your way under more barbed wire then it was time for the Slip and Slide.
Leeann said “Nothing good ever comes from the slip and slide” and boy was she right!! We watched Hobie Call sail down the slide when we were getting ready to start our heat and it looked like a blast, and it was! That was until you realized there was nothing to stop you at the end and you kept sliding like you were a rock that was skipped on a pond. I apologize for the profanity I am about to use but holy fuck did that hurt my ass!!! I actually could feel my shorts sliding down and it stung so bad, I didn’t realize how bad it was until I got home and could see it in the mirror. Let’s just say my whole bum is covered in scratches and its red. Yeah not very pleasant! Other teammates had similar experiences, some took the brunt of it on the shoulders and others had the butt issues as well. I also realized when I had finished that my brand new Under Armour shorts were destroyed, I was “bummed”. But shorts could be replaced, the damage to my butt on the other hand will be felt for a while! I can’t complain too much since I pay the money to sign up for these things! I am not sure why there was not anything to stop us at the end. We have done other races that have had awesome slip and slides where they had a pool of water at the end or haybales to stop us. There was nothing like that making this one completely unsafe. So unsafe that about 15 minutes after we finished we noticed people coming down the side, not going down the slide at all. As much fun as the slide was I could have done without the crash landing!
As soon as I was able to get feeling back and stop swearing we made our way to the final obstacle, a vertical wall about 12 feet or so high with a rope to pull yourself up. Mahk had noticed us on the slip and slide and came over to offer up some advice. Like a champ Chris made it to the top no problem. Now it was my turn! I stepped up, planted my feet under me on the wall but didn’t lean back too much like Mahk had suggested because he saw people “eat shit” as he so nicely put it. My first attempt I didn’t have my feet properly situated and didn’t move. Bummer! I tried 2 more times and just could never get my footing as well as trying to climb the rope, it was slippery for sure! So I went around, did my penalties and made it across the finish line where I got a medal and my t-shirt, woohoo!
Overall I thought the course was challenging and even though the slip and slide wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to be, I was happy I did this race. They even recycled the safety pins at the end! No one has thought of that one yet! Grade: B+
After Party/food: After the race we always look forward to hanging out and enjoying our free beer! You needed to bring your bib, as well as your ID, and they marked your bib off as they handed you a Coors Light. Two things I noticed: 1. The beer was much smaller than what they were selling. Can’t we get a 16 oz for the price we pay to do these races?? It’s Coors Light for crying out loud, it can’t cost all that much for an extra 4oz. And 2. Why do I have to have Coors Light? Why can’t you offer me a choice? They were also selling Blue Moon Seasonal which would have been much nicer than Coors Light in my opinion. I guess we should be happy we get a free beer right? They do walk around with jello shots if that is your thing. The food seemed pretty standard, it was hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, pulled pork, chicken fingers, and pizza from what we could see. There was some sort of rice dish but other than that we didn’t notice anything else. The band was good, I didn’t catch their name but they played cover music which I am always a fan of! In between their sets they had fun dance music and then had their awards ceremonies. It was a good time! Grade: A-
Overall Grade: B+ Considering all the “obstacles” that Superhero Scramble faced prior to the start of the race due to Tropical Storm Andrea, I think they handled themselves nicely!! It was clear that volunteers hadn’t shown up that were supposed to, as they were trying to recruit racers once they had finished to volunteer and we actually saw a lot of people doing that! That is an awesome spirit and what we love about this sport!! All the volunteers that they did have were awesome and everyone appreciated their help whenever it was offered. Everything seemed to run smoothly and even though things were delayed initially once you were out and racing it was a good time! I loved seeing the costumes people were wearing and how excited everyone was to get out there and race. They have already announced next year’s race and people can start signing up now!
Saturday, June 1st was the official start of the mud racing season for Mahk and I and other members of Team Wickedmuddy.com. I feel like a kid at Christmas waiting for the day that I can lace up the trail shoe and put on the Wickedmuddy team gear. Winter felt particularly long this year and I was ready for some nice weather! And what better way to start the season than with the “marathon of all mud races” as we like to call it, the Tough Mudder. This year Tough Mudder decided to change things up offering a Boston location instead of the usual Mt Snow Vermont venue for May. Unfortunately we had to wait a good amount of time after registering to actually find out where the location would be. Some people were mad that they chose Gunstock Mountain in Gilford NH, NH isn’t exactly Boston. But Mahk and I never were convinced it would be anywhere near Boston, logistically we didn’t think it could happen since we weren’t sure there was a venue big enough to hold this event. Maybe Wachusett Mountain or Nashoba Valley but none of the smaller 5k venues would have been able to handle this crowd. We were just happy that Gunstock was an hour and a half away from us as opposed to Mt Snow that was 3! Don’t worry though, if you loved Mt Snow you can still sign up for their August event!
So without any further ado, here is our first mud race review of 2013!
Ease of Registration: We made it to Gunstock a little before 9 am and as soon as we stepped off the bus we saw big signs that pointed both participants and spectators to the registration area. If you were smart and read your emails (ehhhmmm Mahk!) you would have had your waiver printed and signed already. But if you were like a certain someone who was with me wearing a yellow tech shirt and didn’t have yours printed, they had extras. You registered by last name, some lines were definitely longer than others. Luckily the LYN line was not long at all and we breezed through registration. When we got to the volunteer she asked for ID and then proceeded to tell us that we had to wear our green bracelet since it had our bib number on there and that the pink bracelet was for bag check. Bag check was really easy too, it was set up by bib number and you brought your bag down yourself and picked it up yourself when you were finished. You didn’t have to wait for someone to find it for you, bonus! Once we were done with registration we made our way to the volunteer with the sharpie for the mandatory “tattooing” of your bib number on your body. She asked me forehead or check to which I replied “It doesn’t matter, it’s going to come off as soon as I sweat”. Not even 2 minutes after it was gone. But the number on my arm stayed on until some serious scrubbing happened in the shower later on that night. Grade: A
Venue: We had never been to Gunstock Mountain previously but had heard about it living only about 1.5 hours away. We also have a friend who has a house in Gilford so we knew it existed. Last year the Warrior Dash had a race here and we heard good things so we were excited to try a new venue. We loved Mt Snow but after doing two Tough Mudders there we were happy for a change, and one that was closer to home! The one drawback to this venue was no on-site parking. We had received an email about a week prior to race weekend and were told that there would be no on-site parking and that we would have to head to the NH Motor Speedway and from there we would be shuttled over to Gunstock. They meant business too as we received 2 more emails about the parking situation and a text message the night before telling people not to even get dropped off at Gunstock or you would be in big trouble. As soon as we parked there were buses waiting for us, they had a good amount going throughout the day. Going home was a little hectic but we remember where we parked and after waiting about 20 minutes to get on a bus we were on our way back to the car. It sounds like many people got lost but I don’t believe that was Tough Mudders fault, they just didn’t pay attention to where they were parked, shame on them! But back to Gunstock! There was also camping on site if you wanted to take part in that, not sure I would want to sleep in a tent before or after racing 11+ miles but you had that that option. They also had ziplining for spectators and lots of space to set up tents and vendors. Grade: B+
Bathrooms/Changing Areas: There were porta potties EVERYWHERE!!! They had some at the shuttle area at NH Motor Speedway as well as at Gunstock. If you couldn’t find one then clearly you weren’t looking hard enough, if they could bite they would have! Bathrooms are definitely key because especially in 90 degree weather people were hydrating up a storm and when you drink that much water some of it has to come out if you know what I mean. Tough Mudder did a great job of making sure there were plenty and most seemed stocked with toilet paper although by the end I am sure they were running out quickly. The changing area/showers were standard to any race, they had the garden hoses hanging down for people to rinse off with and separate changing areas for men and women. In years past they have charged money to shower off but this year they didn’t woohoo! My only complaint was that the tents were way too small for the amount of people they had there. Also, I understand that people don’t necessarily want to put their stuff on the ground, so they put tables in the tents. But the tables took up way too much room and made for even less space to change. Grade: A-
Course: From Tough Mudders Website “Course Safety Warning: The course is designed to be very difficult and the terrain is at times muddy, slippery, and potentially dangerous. You will be wet after the first mile, and you MUST be able to swim more than fifty yards if you attempt the Walk the Plank℠ obstacle. If you do not feel comfortable completing any obstacle, DO NOT attempt it; simply continue on to the next obstacle. But really, what do you think you signed up for, Warrior Dash?”
I don’t even know where to begin on this! There is so much to talk about on how the course was that I could probably do a whole post on that! We took off at 10 am and considering that it was going to be 90 degrees that day I was happy to get going before the mid day sun came around and fried us all. I still got fried even though I put on sunscreen, not much you can do when you are getting wet and sweating, it just comes right off. The first obstacle is getting to the start line, you have to climb over a 10 foot fence! They had this at Mt Snow last year and I liked it, gives people an idea of what exactly they are getting themselves into. We didn’t have the normal MC for Tough Mudders, rumor has it he was at their Philly event that was taking place at the same time. The gentleman that they had fill in for him though was definitely motivating. My only request to TM is that they change up the recording of the National Anthem, there has to be someone better than LeAnn Rimes!!
As soon as the MC had us repeat the TM Pledge we were off, running straight up the mountain, something we are used to with Mt Snow. We were trying not to go out too fast, remember it was 90 degrees! But it’s hard not to get caught up in all the excitement so by the time we made it to the top we were all pretty winded. This time though as soon as we went up we came down almost immediately and hit our first obstacle, Kiss the Mud. A staple at every mud race we have been to, the idea is to crawl under the barbed wire making sure you didn’t get hit in the head! I am not a fun of crawling, I like the rolling method but no one was rolling! So I started to crawl and half way through changed, thankfully no one seemed to care At this point our team had sort of split into two groups, Rebecca, Chris, Ed and myself and then Mahk, Matt, and Kevin. I told Mahk I would stay in the front group and he was fine staying in the back. This proved to be a game changer for us this year, more to come on that later. We hit the first water stop at mile 2 which was awesome, I believe there were 6 throughout the course. They really stepped it up with the heat, even if I wasn’t thirsty I made sure to drink two cups and grab whatever food they had, usually it was a half of a banana and some Clif Bar Shot blocks. This was key for me, I never felt dehydrated or like I was going to pass out or get sick, we saw a lot of that!
We were breezing through the miles, completing obstacles Trench Warfare, Bale Bonds, Hold your Wood, and Glory Blade. Before we knew it we were at mile 6 and we had only been on the course for 1.5 hours. I was impressed, never have I moved that quickly through the course and I felt confident that we would finish in about 3 hrs. Then it was time for the Arctic Enema! By far the easiest obstacle on the course physically, you jump in a dumpster of water, go under a wall, and swim out. Just typing this review and thinking about it gives me goosebumps!! I walked up to it and said to my teammates I was unsure I could do it! Rebecca gave me some great advice, don’t jump in then try to go under the wall, jump in as far as you can go under the wall and then come up. That way you don’t try to take a breath before going under. I climbed to the top and Ed and Rebecca jumped in, I was supposed to jump too but I chickened out. I looked at the volunteer and asked if it was really cold and he said yes now go. Well when you put it like that buddy I guess I have no choice! I jumped in as far as I could and made it, it was FREEZING! When I say my whole body was frozen when I got out I mean it. And even in 90 degree weather it was still cold! But I did it, I didn’t have Mahk for support but I knew I had to overcome it! We moved quickly to warm up again and hit the mile marker for mile 7, we were seriously cruising!
There was a bit of a speed bump which we were all bummed about. We were running and could see Walk the Plank in the distance but quickly realizes no one was jumping off. Then we saw one of the planks was missing from the obstacle and realized something had happened. One of the volunteers said that it was closed due to malfunction but no one was hurt which was a huge relief! Over the last month or so TM had been criticized for this obstacle after someone had died jumping from the plank. Nothing has been confirmed as to what actually happened that day. Jumping in the water would have been refreshing though but TM made the right call shutting this one down and as bummed as we were I would rather no one get hurt!
Two new obstacles were back to back, WWP Carry and Cage Crawl. WWP Carry paid respect to TM charity, the Wounded Warrior Project and you had to carry a teammate to a designated spot and then switch. Rebecca and I teamed up and did the carry no problem! I am sure Ed and Chris would have loved to have carried one of us but carrying them would have been hard! Cage Crawl had us laying on our backs, water up to our chins, using the cage to get from one side to another. Have I mentioned how hot it was that day and how refreshing muddy water felt?? I could have sat in that nastiness for hours, it felt amazing! We made our way to Kiss the Mud #2 and then we started back 5 miles, which proved to be the most challenging miles of my life!
TM teased us with such a flat course the first 6 miles, we assumed we would have to climb some steep trails but nothing prepared us for what they had up their sleeves. The first one wasn’t so bad, the views were really beautiful. We made it down the first slope to the Fire Walk obstacle, it was a little different this year, you walked through controlled fire in concrete barriers but then you walked up to a water hole that you had to jump in. If you weren’t paying attention you would have burned yourself, they had a line of fire right before you had to take the plunge. Mahk said he heard that someone did burn themselves pretty badly too. That’s a shame considering the obstacle was clearly labeled and the fire department was there. Quickly after we hit the mud mile, it consisted of climbing over mounds of dirt into water pits. Pretty straight forward but climbing those slopes definitely was taking a lot of energy out of us! Also too we had no idea exactly how long the course was, when we hit mile 9 we weren’t sure if we had 1 or 3 miles left! We didn’t want to give it all we had especially if we had 3 miles to go. We hit the Firewalk around 3 hours, clearly I misjudged our time!
After the mud mile we encountered more hills! These are the type of hills that really all you can do is march up them as fast as you can, we didn’t see a single person running up them, not sure you actually could! We tried to run as much flat area as well could, when we could, but energy was being sucked out of us with every hill we saw. We made it to the Funky Monkey, a pretty badass take on Monkey Bars. They are on an incline to start and then you go down in the back half. I watched as Rebecca, Ed, and Chris breezed through them, I was impressed! I have never been good at any monkey bar obstacles and Saturday was no exception! I made it to 3 before plunging in the water below me. I won’t lie though, the water felt amazing and I was kind of happy that I couldn’t make it After the Funky Monkey was the Cliff Hanger, yeah I was not excited to see this one! In Mt Snow it was a steep incline that you literally had to crawl on your hands and knees to get to the top. This one wasn’t quite as steep but it was LONG, really really LONG! We saw a lot of people on the side of the mountain looking like hurting units, I think at this point we had already gone up 4 fairly steep slopes. We assumed that this was the last one since it was an obstacle, we were sadly mistaken!
Once we made it to the top of Cliff Hanger we were greeted by Boa Constrictor, Mahk always says this is like the scene in Shawshank Redemption and I have to giggle. At least it’s just water and not poo hehe We were big fans of the water that was coming into the black tubes, I was even trying to take it with me! Once we gathered everyone and had a quick water break we headed to our first of two “shocking” obstacles, the Electric Eel. When I approached the obstacle I saw a gentleman going in and coming right out, he said it hurt too much and he didn’t want to do it. Ummmm yeah that was scary! I did this one last year and I wasn’t particularly afraid of it but that made me tense up a bit. You could also hear the electricity come from the cords dangling down, awesome! I took and deep breathe and made my way across, getting zapped here and there. I had one really powerful one that hit me on my neck, damn did it hurt! But we all made it through and no one seemed to have gotten knocked down on the ground! Yey small victories!
Pretty sure at this point we had to go up hill and down hill a few more times but I may be blocking that from my mind! It was starting to get a little painful for me going downhill because of a nagging Runner’s Knee issue but once I was able to make it to flat grounds I was fine. I even tried “Prancercising” or whatever the hell it was called downhill and that actually seemed to help! We slowly made our way through the Berlin Walls, Lumberjacked, which prove to be difficult for us vertically challenged people. But Chris and Ed were rock stars helping Rebecca and I up over the walls and the logs. Then we made it to Just the Tip. Just the Tip was a new addition to the course; it was similar to a rock climbing wall but instead of going up, you had to go across. There were two pegs for your feet and then you had to shimmy your way across just holding on with your arms before you reached two more foot pegs right before the end. I loved watching everyone make it across, everyone using every ounce of strength they had!
Oh right then there was more up hill! As we made our way back down hill we saw a sign for mile 11, we had to be almost done! We saw the finish line in front of us and started to get very optimistic. At least point we were at the 4 hr mark, I wasn’t lying when I said the second half of the course was a bear!! As soon as we saw that mile marker though and took a left there was another HUGE slope. Really TM?!?! Was that necessary?!?! Finally we made our decent down the last hill and knew we only had two obstacles left, Everest and Electric Shock Therapy.
If you have never seen Everest it’s similar to what you would see in a skate park, only way bigger! The idea is that you run as fast as you can up the half pipe and someone up top will reach down for your hand and pull you up. Rebecca was a rockstar and ran all the way up and could reach for the top, she didn’t need help! Next it was my turn. Except there wasn’t anyone waiting up there except two girls volunteering. I mean no disrespect when I saw this and they tried their hardest but TM should have placed some guy volunteers or you would think people would have stuck around to help out. So I decide what the heck and take off running, reaching up for one girls hand, grabbing it, then proceeded to have her let go and I went sliding down. She said one more try so I did, this time though she couldn’t even reach my hand because she was starting to fall over the top. I slid down again and she said “Third times the charm” and at that point I decided to pass. Something bad was going to happen and I didn’t want her coming over the top! She tried with everything she had but she didn’t have the strength to pull some people up. So I walked around and waited for Ed and Chris, Chris actually stayed up top to help a few people out. That’s the way it should have been done!
Finally, one last obstacle, Electric Shock Therapy. You make it through this you were on your way to the finish line to claim the coveted orange headband, Under Armor finishers t-shirt, and free Dos XX beer. We all made it through, some of us feeling more shock than others but still nothing that knocked us to the ground thank goodness! On our way to the finish line we went, smiles on our faces even though we were exhausted!
We finally finished 4 hrs and 30 minutes after we started. I never expected it to take us that long since we breezes through the first half of the course but that has to give you some indication just how brutal those final 5+ miles were, it took us 3 hrs just to do that! This course was one of the most challenging we have done to date and I am proud to have finished with my best time of all three Tough Mudders I have done.
Unfortunately it wasn’t until after I finished that I found out Mahk had gotten injured at mile two and was unable to finish the race. I have never run so fast in my life to the first aide tent to see if he was ok. He said he was glad I gone off without him because he wouldn’t have wanted me to stop. And he was right; I would have stopped with him, I couldn’t imagine leaving him behind knowing he was injured. I am sure he will be able to tell you more about it in a follow up post but one thing we always say is true, you need to respect the course. What he did was something everyone does, turn to tell a teammate something, stepped down, and missed seeing the rock that took his ankle out. Honest mistake but one that ultimately cost him his 3rd orange headband. We saw lots of people on the course looking pretty beat up, it’s a hard race and not to mention it was hot out there. Grade: A-
After party: Another great showing from Tough Mudder! I think Mahk and I can agree that this has to be one of the best, if not the best, after party we have been to. Everyone is extremely happy and proud to be wearing their orange headbands while drinking some Dos XX and listening to great music. If you want your hair cut they offer them up for free, you just may not have any say in what you get for a cut haha They have vendors set up selling food and drinks and Tough Mudder had a huge merchandise tent set up in the middle of everything selling gear, some of which you couldn’t find on the website. Mahk was bummed he couldn’t participate in the Carnival of Fun because of his ankle, but they had that there as well. We loved that there was much more space to hang out than at Mt Snow as well, we didn’t feel crowded at all. They did have picnic tables set up with umbrellas to block some of the sun, it certainly helped! Grade: A
Overall Grade: A- Pretty sure we will be back to take on Tough Mudder in 2014 to get some redemption for Mahk! I am still trying to decide if this one was harder than Mt Snow or not, there are different aspect that I think make each one unique. I am proud of myself and my teammates for getting to the finish line, we worked our butts off and hard work certainly pays off in the way of an orange headband!
Did you run Tough Mudder Boston? Let us know your experience!!
A couple of weeks back Alysha and I and a few of our other friends participated in the Ragnar Relay Cape Cod. it started out in Hull at around 530 for us which meant we had to get up at around 430 to leave the hotel room and get to the starting line (Good times).
If you’re unfamiliar with Ragnar each team has generally 12 runners split between 2 vans. Runners 1-6 are in van #1 and 7-12 are in van#2. Each runner’s leg is a different length mileage wise as well as terrain. Some people get long flat runs, others shorter with hills. We were in van#1 and after our van was done we got a chance to grab something to eat, take a nap, and head to the exchange to meet runner #12 before heading out for our night time runs. These required head lamps, vests, and in my case pink knit gloves as it was cold and I didn’t pack running gloves and had to borrow some. I didn’t care they kept my hands warm. After our second runs we headed to what we thought was the next exchange for us (turns out it wasn’t) and then had to drive to the right place which thankfully for us wasn’t that far way.
Thus far I haven’t mentioned a few things- you eat what you can, when you can. You sleep when you can, how you can. Oh and you pray you don’t get Ragnar’s Revenge. I got it last time, but avoided it this trip. Our team mate Michelle wasn’t so lucky. Just picture having to run to the bathroom every single time there is a porta potty in sight. I avoided this by avoiding trail mix, eating a couple of bagels, and making sure I was drinking more water than I needed to. I also was lucky enough to be runner #5 so I got to sleep waaaaay more than I thought I would. So once the third leg commenced for me it was all mental as running a 5K on little sleep and two very sore knees with no music (my ipod and iphone died during my runs) was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. I lucked out by only having to do 16 miles or so. Alysha did 20. I’ve done Ragnar twice and this was Alysha’s third. Oh and I ran over 7 miles in my first leg and that’s more than I’ve ever done in one sitting before. Would have been much more fun had my ipod not died.
We ended as a team in P-Town sometime around 2pm. The after party was kind of a shit show. Way too many people in a really small space for a beer garden/clam chowder distribution. No bathrooms either which meant we needed to leave the area and have someone hold our seat at the table we were lucky enough to get. I’ll never understand why races do that to thier customers. If the beer garden is in one area and you can’t leave with a drink because of local law that’s fine but have porta potties in the area so it’s not such a process to get over there and back.
The one thing I also took from this experience was getting to live with someone with RPTSD (Ragnar Post Trumatic Stress Disorder) for about a week. EVERY night for 8 days Alysha would wake up in bed and ask ” Do I have to run?”, “Where’s Michele?!?!” (team mate), and so on. Essentially she was dreaming she was still racing and I had to let her know each night we were home, and that the race was over. Needless to say it’ll be a while before I want to do another Ragnar.
Overall Grade: B I had a great team, weather was a little on the colder side so I enjoyed that aspect. But the after party kinda killed the experience for me. I know it’s not my usual kind of review but I’m getting ready for the Tough Mudder on Saturday!!!
Thankfully, it’s been a VERY quiet winter and early spring here at WickedMuddy.com HQ. There hasn’t been much to really talk about besides Blizzard Blast as far as OCR goes. Winter is like that. Sure we signed up for races and we’ve been working out getting ready for the upcoming season.
That all changed on Monday. The Boston Marathon, a celebration that is all things spring, sport, and human achievement, was marred by a horrific act that has so far (as the time of me writing this) claimed the lives of three innocent people and injured or maimed at least 183 others. Like many of you I was horrified by what I saw on tv, my twitter feed, and heard on the radio. Especially troubling for me was the 45 minutes that I couldn’t get a hold of Alysha or her twin sister Nicole (cell phone circuits were JAMMED) as they were in Boston and I didn’t know if they made their way to the finish line area. When I finally did hear that they were indeed safe and on the way out of the city I told them both to stay alert and get out of town as soon as possible. My thoughts then turned to my buddy Timmy Lindsey (or as Alysha calls him Yoda as he helped us with our original weight loss) and his wife and sons and their safety. It would be a couple hours later that I heard from him that he was OK and had a “bad day” on the course. He was at the mile 22 marker when the race was stopped. I told him “No brother, you’re alive you had a GREAT day.” The next day I found out his wife Giana was a mere 60 feet away from the second bomb going off. Thankfully she and her son were unharmed. Shaken, but safe. I’m sure many of you reading this have similar stories (hopefully you all were lucky and your loved ones and friends are safe as well) as most of you are runners, so it stands to reason that you know a marathon runner or two. As I tweeted later that night-
Sitting at home watching politicians talk at press conferences and not really saying much at all, What can I do to help? I thought. That’s just how I am. I can’t help it. Then I got to thinking why not raise some money for whatever fund springs up for the victims? My buddy Ned @mrmillcity retweeted the following-
“Well, I guess I have to turn in my old NB’s for a new pair and start training for next year’s #Boston Marathon.”- @danielconor who’s Dan Murphy, Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy’s brother. An offer to join our team was extended and then a few emails and phone calls later this idea happened.
Saturday night April 27th 7PM at the upstairs of the Old Court we are holding a fundraiser for Lowell residents Celeste and Sydney Corcoran who were both victims of the blast on Marathon Monday. You can donate online at the link below. Their road to recovery is going to be long, but I’m hoping that it will be a little better through our efforts.
(Sydney Corcoran being helped by two good Samaritans)
A donation of $26.20 at the door, raffles, music, some celebs, and a cash bar. I want to fill the Old Court next Saturday so much we have to turn people away. That’s where you all come in. If you’re reading this your invited. So are all your friends and family. Let’s turn out in full force and show Lowell, Boston, whoever did this, and the rest of the world that whatever they thought was going to be the result of a cowardly act didn’t scare us, it didn’t intimidate us, and we refuse to live in fear. Instead we’re going to come together, comfort each other, and raise money to help those affected most. Not only that but a whole lot of people I’m guessing are now going to be training for their first Boston Marathon in 2014 on 4/14/14. I know I will.
We hope to see you all next Saturday!
-Mark and Alysha