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Jungle Cup reinvents itself

Late 2012. A race was moving north from Florida and reached out to me. They sounded promising – they’d run a bunch of races already – feedback from the locals was middle of the road – some people had problems with them, others had fun.

Jungle Cup
Jungle Cup

We got involved with Dan Barrett, and started getting excited to launch the 2013 Spring OCR season with Jungle Cup.

Oh boy.

By the time April came around, it was clear Jungle Cup was struggling. They had a poor race in DC (we reviewed it here), followed by a cancellation, followed by the New England event falling through. We had a lot to say about this reschedule (and eventual cancellation) here.

It turned out to be a common problem for OCR in 2013. Events that were reasonably successful in their home regions decided to hit the road – quickly they found that tapping attendance in a new region was considerably tougher than they thought it would be, and the expense of moving their circus around is pretty steep. This caused the demise of well respected events, like Hero Rush and is showing in the low attendance and troubles of other events, like Superhero Scramble.

Jungle Cup just happened to be the first time we saw this.

Of course, Hero Rush was actually, officially bankrupt. stepped up to the plate and refunded everyone they reasonably could. Jungle Cup just vanished. No replies to emails, no replies to phone calls, no social media interaction. Thats hardly the same ask declaring bankruptcy. The owners behind Hero Rush seemed to actually *care*. Dan just vanished.

One of their last communications was that they would be refunding everyone, or offering transfer to a future race – this has yet to happen.

It’s since been a busy 2013 season. We’ve attended many many quality races in New England. A few have fallen by the way side, and refunds or transfers have been handled fairly well – and no race has left that bitter “I’ve been ripped off” feeling that Jungle Cup left behind.

So – imagine our surprise when suddenly the Jungle Cup Facebook page lit back up again. Dan Barrett, the man in charge was back in the press – not for ripping people off, or even going out of business – but for opening a training facility in Miami.

I’m not sure who wrote the article, but it’s a funny read. Claiming to be the only gym of it’s kind is quite amusing, showing little knowledge of the wider OCR world – in New England alone, Shale Hill Adventure Farm in VT and Unleashed in RI surely have something to say about that. Calling Dan the “mastermind” behind 11 OCRs is technically true, but I’m not sure they mean it in the same context I mean it.

There were also photos popping up of the new training facility – and some impressive looking equipment indeed! We asked – jokingly – if we were part owners, due to the fact refunds hadn’t come back to the community yet – and when they started replying to Facebook posts, it seemed that Jungle Cup was back, in some form or another.

So, about those refunds?



Shortly after taking this screen shot, the comment from Jungle Cup was deleted. As of writing, the post is still there, but no response from Dan or Jungle Cup.

Jungle Cup owes people money, and is apparently still in business. Somehow, they expect to still make money from somewhere to pay those refunds …

I’m not holding my breath.

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Featured Review: Jungle Cup, DC

We’re all familiar with Jungle Cup by now – and if not, feel free to read the last post we had on the race series to catch up with the class. Considering our local even is the second of four total events to be canceled, the smart money was that the DC event this weekend wouldn’t happen either.

However, against all the odds, they did manage to put on an event in DC this past weekend. Of course, after Boston was “rescheduled” to a date we’ve yet to learn, we’re all REALLY interested in how DC went.

Happily, a member of the New England Spahten Facebook group was there, and agreed to give us the low down on how it went. Good info to have, considered many of us are still “owed” a race when Boston is put back on the calendar.

Over to Edy Penn

The Jungle Cup advertises itself as “not your typical mud run or average obstacle course race”  it’s a race “for warriors looking for the most challenging obstacle race of their life. Although I am new to the sport of obstacle racing, only having begun in 2012, I can easily say I’d done charity mud runs that were more challenging than this race. Where do I begin?

Directions: The event was to be held at 7612 Willow Road, in Frederick, Maryland. Thanks to an old high school friend who lives in the area, I knew that it was a farm area. But that tidbit of information would have been nice to for the race organizers to share with the participants. It was difficult to find, but we managed. And just in the nick of time.

Arrival: I was scheduled to race at 12:00 and the instructions specified that I should get there at least one hour ahead of time to pick up my packet. Unfortunately, due to massive construction on 95, I arrived at 11:40. I was terrified that I had just spent 4 hours on the road just to get there and not be permitted to run. I went immediately to the registration table to sign in, where, without showing identification, I was able to retrieve my bib number. And despite what had been previously told to the registrants, there was no chip to pick up.

Start: I warmed up as quickly as I could which was difficult because it was cold and I was very short on time. Despite the fact that the registration table was so close to the starting line, when I checked in I noticed there was no one at the starting line. No Official. No runners. So I stood there  jumping around, attempting to keep warm when all of the sudden there were runners there, (some still slowly walking to the start) and an “official.” He made no attempt to corral the 12:00 heat and just began to talk. When I got to the line, I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. I was standing not five feet from him and he couldn’t have been speaking above a whisper. The only instruction I was able to make out was, “I only have time to say follow the green. Good luck. Go!” And we were off….

Course: At the beginning, the course was pretty clearly line with green tape and arrows. It seemed like a fast course with the first 800-1200 yards containing only rickety hurdles. I’m a Spartan, so this was no biggie. I came upon a 12-15 foot incline wall which seemed simple enough. When I reached the top I realized that the other side had a rope we were to go down. The rope was suspended above a single row of four bales of hay under which there was only gravel road. I carefully descended the rope, jumping onto the bales of hay once I got close enough. I noticed however, that this obstacle (which was begging for long, hard falls and broken bones) was not manned by a race official or volunteer. I shrugged it off and moved on. There were only two additional volunteers along the way, but that was all within the first mile. After that, there were no additional volunteers and the course was also not very clearly marked. I got lost. I’m under the impression there were some last minute changes due to the cold weather, and it appeared that they made them so hastily, the clarity of the course suffered. Most of the course was a straight run, the other obstacles (save the “Jungle Jym” right before the finish line) not even worth mentioning.

The Jungle Jym, which was easily viewable by all the spectators, was a nice obstacle, easily the only place there was even a hint of difficulty.  It was the Jungle Cup’s “Gorilla ladder” (incline ladder constructed of 6 or 6 vertical bamboo about 1 1/2 feet apart) immediately followed by a rope swing (over bare ground) to a 5X5 stack of bundled hay. The stack was covered with green plastic cargo netting, allowing for people to climb the stack if they had fallen from the suspended rope. Once atop the stack of hay, there was a rope traverse, immediately followed by gorilla bars. But as great as it was, it occurred 50 yards (if that) before the finish line, itself a low hurdle obstacle.

Finish: As I crossed the finish line, a tiny little girl who couldn’t have been more than 4 years old handed me an orange-ribboned medal. Because there were no time-chips, there was an individual at the table who appeared to simply be writing down the times of the participants as they ran in. There was a computer there, so it’s possible it was a recorded finish. I received my time, but no t-shirt (and you know how we live for those). I walked over to my family, who congratulated me and then it was over. It was 12:35.

In addition to no time-chip or t-shirt,  there didn’t appear to be a Jungle Party or a Kids Course. NO grand fanfare at the beginning or at the end, and honestly, we were all disappointed with the results. I did great (I guess), but it wasn’t worth the trip, nevermind the expense of the registration. I have another race in April, which I am looking forward to and vow to never register for another Jungle Cup.

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Jungle Cup Delayed

We bring you the good, the bad and the ugly – and today, the bad.

Jungle Cup logo

Jungle Cup – the Miami based event formely known as Tarzans Cup, already has a rocky reputation – from their 2012 season solely based in Miami that wasn’t well received, to their first steps up the coast and their so so event in Georgia … and you can read how well that went here

Still, always look on the bright side …

“I am an optimist. Anyone interested in the future has to be otherwise he would simply shoot himself.” 
― Arthur C. Clarke

Before they moved out of Miami, I spoke with the Race Director – we exchanged a phone call, many emails – we put out a search to source him a local New England Spahten with event planning experience  – and secured him a local race director. All the right things were said, and it appeared that their rocky past was put behind them, and he was looking to break out and expand.

Sadly, the Race Director suffered a back injury during their home event in January, and it seems that he had the entire weight of the series resting on it – as things then appeared to be unravelling fast.

South Carolina was cancelled (due to the RD’s back injury – I guess he didn’t have a team to back him up, or carry the load). DC is still scheduled and appears to be going ahead – but our local event, “Boston” – it never had a venue – has been rescheduled.

As is usual, you see more about someones nature in how they handle their failures, than their successes – and we’re seeing this here. Rather than own up, and admit that he is overwhelmed, understaffed or simply underestimated what needed to be done – is being blamed. Apparently  no one has been able to register for the past 6 weeks, which has affected his numbers so much, he can’t run the event. While we’ve all been using for many other events with no real problems – I won’t dispute that he had problems – I’ll even grant that never adequately resolved them for him.

But leaving this to go on for 6 weeks, before notifying the folks who have signed up? Then not offering a refund in a timely manner?

Now we’re well into the realm of “bad practices – 101”.

So – long term – can I recommend you run Jungle Cup?

No, I can’t. I hope they do the right thing, and offer refunds. I hope they get their game together before offering future events. Mostly though, I hope they stop blaming the other stuff – wether that’s or volunteer turn out or venues and realize – it’s their show, they are responsible. Own up to that.