Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Challenge Mud Run 3/30/2013

Two local mud run/obstacle course runs in two weeks. Two big disappointments in a row. I'll try to just recap the race itself first and then add some personal comments at the end.
Big Talk. That's how I'll sum up the this one. The CEO of this race did a fantastic job of hyping the race, promising big things in the weeks leading up to the race. Hatchet or knife throwing, zip lining, swim obstacles, electric shock and the "Ultimate Obstacle." This was going to be "a 5 mile test of brains, brawn and endurance, mud... you have seen nothing like this" their facebook page claims. Well, I will certainly agree with having seen nothing like it.

My son and I arrived approximately 80 minutes before our heat time, only to sit on the street for nearly an hour waiting to get into the parking lot. As far as I could see, there were only 2 people taking money for cars to park. Once parked, we hustled to pick up our bibs. The parking line seemed short compared to what I found as I need the check-in line. The line curled its way around the entrance, circling back on itself. There must have been a thousand people in line. And I'm not exaggerating. The man in front of us went to see what seemed to be the problem and returned to report that there was actually a separate line with one lady and a stack of papers with each racer's bib number. We were supposed to first get out bib number and then get in line for the bib and timing chip. Hhm...

Out of desperation (a slight exaggeration) I began racking my brain to find a solution. I think it was my son who suggested just going in without a bib. After going to do some investigating myself, I found that a volunteer was checking a handful of people's race receipts on their phones, taking their waivers and then giving them permission to race bib-less and without a timing chip. Light bulb. I had no smart phone to prove I had paid, nor patience, but I did have a plan. After checking my bag into my own car (thereby saving 5 bucks), I retrieved my son from line and together we went rogue. Not my proudest racing moment, but they did promise a test of brains...
It turns out a timing chip wouldn't have mattered anyway. We waited in line for probably a total of 40 minutes divided between 2 obstacles. I found the course to be pretty good. It wasn't quite the extreme test of brains, brawn and endurance, especially since the 5 mile course was shortened to just over 3 miles (there are reports of mountain bikers removing the caution tape that was marking off the course). I especially loved the run across the "lily pads" and the final big obstacle was pretty good. There were a few walls, a swim/pull yourself along a rope, a tarp tunnel, wading through water and an icy cold water wade. They did enforce some penalties for not completing obstacles.
Personally, my son and I had a blast. For his sake, I was glad for the shorter course, as he has not been doing any run training. It was a great starter race for him, and he can't wait for the next one. I had originally signed up for the competitive wave-- I was going to do that and then run a second time with him. However, earlier in the week I had decided just to enjoy the race with my son-- his first, a celebration of turning 13. It was a refreshing change to help him and a few others over walls and just meet people out on the course without the pressure of racing.
And although we waited for the 2 unique obstacles, it provided a chance to cheer others on and just enjoy the moments... great weather and great conversation with my son. As I've said before, choosing an inaugural race comes with some risk. If you want a quality race, sign up for one that's tried and true. I really do believe this company has potential; they just need to hire someone with an administrative mind to work the race day logistics. It's a fairly easy fix.

*Since my original post, Garfield, the race director has apologized profusely and not only offered a free race for the next event, but he has also paid for all racers to have their photos free.

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