Hardcore Mudd Run has been around a year or two, and hosts events in the New England and Tri-State area, along with 2014 plans to expand to Texas and the Mid-West. They also host “pain camps” to train for their events, and skip the usual “5k family friendly” recipe others tend to follow, and put on an un-timed, 8 mile course on some pretty rough terrain.
Sadly, they held their event on the busiest race weekend of 2013, and when you are up against Spartan Race and Zombies – and right in front of the Beast, you had better put on something pretty special if you want people to make the trek – and Hardcore Mudd Run did not appear to do that.
New England Spahten member Albert Ferraro attended, and wrote up a very good review for us …
On Sat, 9/7 & Sun, 9/8, the Hardcore Mudd Run (HMR) took place at the Jiminy Peak Mt. Resort in Hancock, MA. I ran on Sat, in the 9:30am “heat.” Let me preface things by saying I’m concerned we could lose this event next year, and that would be a darn shame. This is a VERY worthwhile event taking place right in our “backyard” (whether you live in Mass, NY, or CT), and I believe it has INCREDIBLE potential. For whatever reason (s), the event organizers chose a VERY “busy” OCR weekend this year, which included a fairly local Super Spartan. HMR cannot compete with Spartan (who really can???), and their attendance reflected this. A staff member told me Saturday’s event had “around 200” participants, while Sunday had “40” people registered (NO, I’m not leaving out a “0”). My “heat” had around 15 people!!!!!!!!!! In comparison, HMR’s Nov, 2012 event at the same venue, which I also ran, had around 500 people, per HMR staff. I felt very badly for the event organizers, for they must’ve taken a huge hit financially, and they have to be contemplating whether it is viable to continue at this venue. HMR is an event that needs and deserves the support and guidance of the OCR community. It’ll be a win-win situation for everyone!!
So, what’s the Hardcore Mudd Run all about? Well, as quoted from their website, “[An HMR event] isn’t a race [no time is kept and there are no rankings], this isn’t a contest, this isn’t a competition, this is a challenge, an event, a right of passage to become hardcore!” HMR’s “philosophy” is about “competing against yourself with an “”I will not give up”” attitude.” They stress camaraderie, teamwork, and “no one left behind.” For someone like me who isn’t blessed with the skills to be an ultra-competitive, elite runner, and who does OCR’s as a way of celebrating good health and life (that doesn’t sound too corny, does it???!!!!), this whole approach is very appealing. Also from their website, “HMR has teamed up with the Children’s Miracle Network and Umuryango Children’s Network. A portion of the proceeds from all HMR events will go to CMN. All participants are asked to donate their mud run shoes to Umuryango Children’s Network to help put shoes on thousands of African men, women and children in Rwanda.” So, as with other OCR’s, good causes hopefully are helped.
Jiminy Peak is a scenic, mid-sized ski resort in the Berkshires. The location is more than adequate to host a decent sized OCR event. There was FREE on-site parking, on-site lodging, different on-site restaurants (at least one with outdoor seating), a few shops, and a fairly expansive “adventure” area for kids (making this a GREAT family venue). There is a large central courtyard, many grassy areas, and bathrooms (yes, bathrooms, no port-o-potty’s) to change, stretch out, warm up, gather your team, gather your thoughts, etc. The ski lift was operational for transporting spectators to the top of the mountain to see “the action,” and many folks took advantage of it. I don’t personally believe in “spectator fees,” but HMR’s was $10 online & $20 event day (children free). There wasn’t much for spectators to see if they didn’t go up & onto the course (other than the start and finish lines), so was a “fee” really necessary? As a side note, the views from the top of the mountain are pretty impressive.
Attendance was very low, so registration was not an issue at all—quick, smooth, and uneventful. Last year’s registration process was very long, frustrating, and poorly executed, so it is hard to say how they would have fared this year if attendance was higher. HMR organizers would probably need to increase staffing for larger turnouts. You turned in your “suicide waiver,” got your packet with bib and safety pins, an over-21 wristband for TWO post-race beers (per HMR’s website), and your HMR t-shirt. The starting line was a short distance up a staircase from the registration area.
The cost for participating varied between $50 for registering well in advance to $135 game day (a bit overpriced), with team discounts. There are also sizable discounts for military personnel, firefighters, law enforcement, and medical professionals—nice touch HMR!!! I don’t recall seeing other discount codes, but they may be out there unbeknownst to me.
This was billed as an 8+ mile course, with 18-20 obstacles, making it comparable to a Super Spartan. Add in the element of traversing Jiminy Peak several times, and you had a pretty darn challenging course.
The start was a bit uninspiring. There was music, and they played a rock version of the National Anthem, but the staff member responsible for “firing up” the runners left a bit to be desired. No powerful motivational speeches, no flames, no smoke, no pushup or burpee warm-ups– just a bullhorn tone to start things, and up the mountain ya’ go. There were no elite or “hurricane” heats.
There were around 14 of what I would call legitimate “obstacles.” These included: two underground drainage pipe crawls (the 2nd being dark and cramped, where I had to pull myself along on my stomach by rope); 8-10-12 foot walls that required teamwork to conquer; a short, Tough Mudder-type electric wire run (not painful at all, except for the last one which stung a bit) followed by a pretty basic bungee-cord maze (“rat’s nest”); a sandbag carry down a very steep slope followed by a decent uphill climb; a standard cargo net up and over; two low crawls under heavy, staked down chain link fencing followed by a fairly short barbed wire crawl; two reverse incline walls that required strategy and teamwork; two sets of balance beams over a pond to a dock, followed by a “bridge” made up of secured tubes to crawl across; a short run trying to dodge a well camouflaged staff member in the woods firing paintballs at you (I avoided getting hit by using the hay bales as cover, but others said the hits stung); a long water slide which didn’t work all that well, and needs to be seriously re-thought; a pretty long crawl through a muddy trench covered with a tarp (was very dark, a little windy, and had a few deep drops into mud).
Other “obstacles” incorporated the terrain, such as “Lost in the Woods,” where you had several routes to choose from, only one of which got you back on course, and of course, numerous, long uphill hikes (very steep terrain at times), long downhill fields with steep slopes, and woods.
The finish line was OK– inspirational music welcomed your return, a few fire over and unders, you received your “dog-tag” finishers’ award, some photo ops…and, voila, you’re officially part of the “Hardcore Army.”
There were 3 “aid” stations at different points along the top of the mountain that had water, candy, bagels, and bananas–some staffed, some not. A staff member was also driving around the course at times with a cooler to drink from. I heard complaints there weren’t enough water stations, but, the website accurately told people in advance what to expect. I’m glad I brought a hydration pack. The course would’ve been brutal if it was hot and humid. Spring or fall is a good time to run this event (last year’s November event was brutally cold and windy).
With one exception, the route was pretty well marked. Certain areas were ambiguous by design, and required you to make choices. Almost every obstacle was staffed by someone, and the few that weren’t didn’t require it. I heard there was a problem in an earlier heat where staff wasn’t present to direct people during the sandbag carry, leading some participants to needlessly climb a VERY steep path—that is pretty much unacceptable, but not the end of the world.
Even with such a small turnout, there were minor delays on the walls and reverse incline walls. This was due to people strategizing on how to tackle those bad-boys. A larger turnout might have made for a course flow issue.
A small vendor’s table was at the finish line, with what appeared to be a pretty limited selection of shirts, hats, bumper stickers, etc. It didn’t appear the HMR’s merchandise line was very extensive, but if it is, there wasn’t too much at the venue to choose from.
One very good feature was the showering station- several hoses with HOT water!!!! The only drawback was that the water pressure would significantly diminish if there were many people using the station at once. Still, this was very unexpected and welcomed, as it started to get a bit chilly in the afternoon.
Participants were able to claim their free beer (sorry, I don’t drink, so I didn’t even notice what brand, but I THINK I heard someone say Sam Adams) on an outdoor patio near the finish line that had numerous tables and chairs for socializing. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any food or product vendors, which I thought was a big mistake. There was music, but no DJ. Though there weren’t many participants, I think HMR missed out in making the post-race a real festive and celebratory experience. Maybe the resort wouldn’t allow outside vendors, as there were on-site restaurants that many participants wound up going to, but it didn’t seem to part of the HMR event.
The HMR, in my opinion, has the potential to be an epic OCR event, provided certain changes/modifications take place. Most importantly, they need to schedule things without competing head to head with the well-established “heavy hitters” of OCR. Next years’ Super Spartan, for example, in NJ is Sept 6th & 7th. HMR, PICK A DIFFERENT WEEKEND!!!! It would be impossible for this event to prosper at this venue if turnout continued like it was this weekend!!
The venue is excellent. An 8-10 mile “stroll” up and down and across and around that blankety-blank mountain is VERY challenging for most people. It is NOT Killington, but it AIN’T easy!!!
HMR, in my opinion, would benefit from some improvement in the number and creativity of their obstacles. Many of their obstacles were great—well constructed, challenging, required strategy and teamwork. But, they need more. Whether they are “man-made” (walls, hurdles, ropes), or built into the terrain (ditches, mountains of mud, water), break up the occasional monotony of the mountain climb. Get creative!!! Look, for example, at the unique obstacles designed for the upcoming Bone Frog Challenge. It is not rocket science—it just takes some thought and imagination to make this an even more appealing event to the masses.
Bring in food and product vendors. Get a DJ. Liven things up!!! Take advantage of the on-site amenities for kids. Make this more of an event that racers AND their families would want to come to!!!!
My hope is that the HMR event organizers will reach out to the OCR community for support and guidance in developing a smash-hit of an OCR in our area.
The distance and difficulty of the terrain should be an excellent draw for any OCR enthusiast seeking a decent challenge. It is not a “Beast,” but it ain’t a walk in the park by any means. The HMR SHOULD have its place among the more challenging OCR events. I would do it again, and would love to see hundreds of fellow NE Spahtens flooding the course!!!!