* From: Sandy Rhee
* Event: Tough Mudder Great Northeast

* Event Details
I’m going to start by saying that I’m a fan of TM. This was my tenth event and I enjoyed it – I’ll be at my eleventh in October. They do a lot of things right and are regularly improving what they can. I ran on Saturday and volunteered on Sunday.

The positives:
* The new registration system is amazing! You show up, go to any line, show them your registration printed out or on your phone (!) or they look it up for you, they check your ID, they scan the next bib in the stack to link it to your name, and you’re in. No pre-looking up bib numbers, no flipping through packets to find yours, no delays.

* The festival area had good quality, well priced, local food with a lot of choices.

* Spectators are given great access to the course and the best obstacles for viewing. In my opinion, they consider spectators when designing the course.

* The spectator route also had a concession stand at the furthest point from the festival area where they could get food and drink while waiting for their runners to come through.

* Dos Equis beer. Infinitely better than Bud Light or PBR in Vince’s opinion. Me, I can’t stand beer, but Vince loves it. He doesn’t consider either of the other two mentioned to be worth drinking, even for free.

* There were a few new obstacles to keep things fresh and their solid favorites were there as well.

* Starting line Sean. He is simply the best in the business.

* The course was well marked and incorporated every type of terrain they had available.

* Fire In Your Hole, while ridiculously named, was ridiculously fun! I expected to like it, but it was even better than I expected!

The negatives:
* Bibs – they used a new material for the bibs that was incredibly thin and easy to tear. Mine was pretty well shredded by the end and I had to keep re-pinning it so it wouldn’t get lost. The number is also almost illegible because much of the print wore off. (I keep all my bibs, so having a bib at the end of the race is very important to me. Not everyone cares, but a significant number of racers do. I hope they’ll go back to the old style.)

* Legionairre’s headbands – they ran out of the black, 10+ headbands before 3:00 on Saturday. This was a blow to me. I finished the run and was really excited to go get my headband and was dismayed to be told that they didn’t have any. I’ll get it in the mail, sure, but it will be completely anti-climactic to get it in an envelope rather than getting to wear it in the moment. I certainly hope that they don’t let that happen to anyone else, especially as it is so easy to prevent.

One last positive:
* Two TM staff members were in the rewards tent when I went to get my finisher shirt and headband. One immediately ran to check for additional stock and assured me he would do his best to find one. When that failed, the other staff member apologized for running out and explained that it would be mailed to me on Tuesday when they returned to the office. It was a sincere apology followed by the offer of something, anything that would make me feel any better. She ended up giving Vince and myself (she said my whole team, but we were the only two still there) meal tokens which turned out to be worth $8 each towards a food purchase. I would have much rather have just had the headband, but I felt like I was heard and that she really was sorry. This indicates good customer service in the face of things not going well. I’ll at least give them credit for that.

* Race Details

* Rating
Excellent

————–
* From: Heather Gannoe
* Event: Tough Mudder Great NorthEast

* Event Details
Parking: A+ Parking was offsite with a shuttle bus to the start. After the nightmare that was the 2014 New England Foam Fest, I shudder every time I see a school bus. But there was no need to fear, as Tough Mudder had dozens of buses lined up and constantly departing and arriving. There was zero wait for a shuttle bus to and from the venue. Costs for parking vary depending on the time you purchase parking. Tip: purchase ahead of time online and print out your receipt.

Registration: A+ Equally as smooth. Tough Mudder now utilizes a really cool check in system to help save a ton of time versus traditional packet pickup. You show up to the line with your ID and waiver. They look you up on their handheld scanner, assign you a bib number right there, scan the bib and it is now associated with your name, and done. No more digging through boxes of thousands of packets.

Bag Check: B Bag check is equally as smooth, but I am assigning it a “B” as it costs $10 per bag. That is pricey for a bag check. BUT: a portion of the bag check proceeds go the Wounded Warrior Project. Further, there is no limit on the size of a bag, so bring a bigger one and share with a friend to help save.

Festival Area (Mudder Village): A+ There were local food vendors, a kids race area, a massive merchandise tent, tons of demonstration areas and fun free activities from Garmin, U.S. Army, Met RX, Bic, Under Armour, and more.

Spectators: A There is a charge for spectators, which ranges from $20 online to $40 onsite (though I’ve heard rumors that you can do better than $20 if you buy early, don’t quote me on that.) I brought a spectator along and she said she had access to almost all of the best obstacles via spectator paths. I honestly saw her what felt like every mile, which was great because I ended up handing muddy things off to her (my bib that fell off, the spi-belt with nutrition, etc). She also felt there was plenty by way of food and entertainment in the village area to keep spectators busy.

Swag: A Gender specific (and year specific), Under Armour tech t-shirts. Finishers headband (plus bonus headbands for Legionnaires) I’d give them an A+ if the headbands and/or shirts were event specific, but you can’t win em’ all.

* Race Details
The Great NorthEast course was held on Sunset Ridge Golf Links, a vast change from every other OCR this summer that has been held on the face of a ski mountain. As such, this course would prove to be fast and definitely advantageous to runners. Reportedly 10.3 miles, the course covered a little bit of wooded trail, but mostly grassy fields and small rolling hills (if you can even call them hills. Speedbumps perhaps?).

21 Obstacles (including Legionnaires loop). They claim to be “probably the toughest event on the planet”, and while I don’t necessarily agree (I’d give their obstacles a 6 out of 10 on the difficulty scale, based on my experience thus far) I will say that the majority of their obstacles are unique and mentally challenging in a way no other event does.

Yes, the price is significantly higher than many smaller obstacle races on the circuit, but you truly get what you pay for. A no nonsense, flawlessly run event. They truly take the small details and organization to the next level, allowing you to completely enjoy the experience. (Plus Fire in Your Hole is pretty much the best obstacle ever, if we’re being honest.) I’ve heard complaints about long lines at Tough Mudder obstacles, but have yet to experience those myself (pro-tip: race on Sunday), and have heard from staff that they are truly trying hard to alleviate those issues.

For a more info on the obstacles at the race plus pictures and video, my full review can be found here: http://relentlessforwardcommotion.com/2014/08/tough-mudder-great-northeast-portland-maine/

* Rating
Above Average

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