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Review: NES Cooling Towel

From: Chris Jones

Review: I have been using one of these for about 1 month. I sweat excessively and I now always carry this on a training run. It’s small enough to fit in the pocket of my shorts. Its very absorbent, just pull it out and mop away then give it a good snap or good shake and its cooling. I suspect the water is distributed through the material when you snap it so after that you are wiping with a cooling damp cloth. It works a treat.

(editors note: This is a review of the sample that became our NES Cooling Towels, now available in the store!)

Do you own this product? Leave a review here!

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Featured Review: Blizzard Blast 2016

cropped-BBno5kBlizzard Blast holds a very special place on the New England OCR calendar. Every year – by virtue of their handy location, and early date, they get to launch the season – and for the past few years, we’ve brought the biggest team of OCR enthusiasts to Dracut, MA.

2016 – we did it again, with north of 250 people coming along for a mixture of competitive elite wave racing, multiple lap endurance – and pure fun single lap laughs. Considering there are current 985 finishes listed – thats a significant portion of the field!

Oh, and many of us did it wearing onesies. We’ve already established that the onesies were Sandy’s fault – and the weather certainly didn’t co-operate – but for sheer fun? Can’t be beat.

Lets get the big one out of the way – there wasn’t a lot of Blizzard going on at Blizzard Blast. Despite some snow a couple of weeks prior – we hadn’t had much snow, or even cold weather in the last ten days or so – in fact, race day was a spectacularly unseasonable 50+ degrees – which totally removed the Blizzard!

It’s ok – we still had a blast.

Lets get the next one out of the way – onesies SUCK in 50f weather. Sweaty, sticky mess. Many of us rolled our’s down to our waists for some ventilation. I also picked a dragon onesie with a knee height crotch – which made walls and climbing obstacles a whole bunch of “fun”.

12662734_10153274902087014_6955727160989491093_nStill – we did have a blast!

Buses from a remote parking lot seemed to be smooth all day, with no complains coming my way, and registration was pretty quick, despite a crowded tent. As is typical at a Smithfest event, you registered, then lined up for your shirt separately – NES members getting a nice perk here, and a temp tattoo to slap on you, if you’re inclined. Free bag check – which I didn’t use, but again – no complaints this way.

Plenty of indoor and in-tent seating – but the inclement weather meant you could comfortable hang outside if you want – no big problems there. Venue does great food, and a free bowl of chili (eh, last years was better) – and a full bar inside. Indoor bathrooms – with showers!

Biggest Team perk of a private room off to the back is ALWAYS appreciated. We can become quite the crowd, and having a single place to meet, mix and mingle is huge. HUGE. I can’t state this enough – if you’re a member of NES, and you make use of these facilities, please keep them clean, make sure the RD and staff and treated right – because we don’t always get them, and they make our lives so much better.

As people wandered in and out to do their elite waves, early waves and such – time ticked on to our noon biggest team photoshoot – kudos to Vince who left him home with bronchitis for this – he’s on the road to recovery, and needed to get out – but thank you! Onesies on! Team assembled!


I promptly headed to the start line – FIT Challenge RD Robb McCoy was assisting with the start, and sending waves out promptly – not more than a few minutes, and I was off – with my tail wagging away behind me, and the sweat starting to build inside my fleece dragon suit.

Lets be totally frank – Blizzard Blast is an event designed for a snowy day, with cold temperatures. Last year, we slid and slipped our way through the course, crossing frozen golf greens and more. A full five obstacles were 100% designed for the snow – including the super fun sledding.

12592549_10153998682181654_3017102760297941706_nWe had none of that. Because of the total lack of snow, the course had to be rerouted to stay on paths or wood trail – no crossing golf greens, no snowy sledding down the hill, no snow angel penalty. It led to a course that was 5.5 miles long – but definitely felt obstacle light. We got to the first obstacle about a mile in, and the next group of obstacle a further 1.5 miles in – after that, it felt more like an OCR, less like a trail event. I don’t think anyone expected this circumstance – but if I was to pick – I’d cut out the first two miles, and have a much more condensed, 5k course with a better concentration of obstacles. An OCR needs obstacles more than it needs distance.

12622228_913477785368182_1498038158742709941_oThe obstacles we did have were fun – a few walls (one was super wobbly though!), a nice keg carry right in front of the lodge windows, a wrist burning mini keg hoist (wrap the rope around a small stick), and a full hercules hoist with double kegs on the trail – the thin wet rope proving a pretty big challenge for many. The dreaded peg board climb (still can’t do it) and a short rope climb that was low enough not to be too challenging, although lots were struggling (knots and no knots were available).

We also saw the teeter totters – after witnessing a nasty fall on these (at another venue), I skip these unless I have my studded icebugs on – and having a fleece onesie around my ankles didn’t help – call it an educated decision after 6 years of OCR – I can see when I’m putting myself at way more risk than it’s worth! Right next to the teeter totters was a very awesome hot chocolate station – so while my race partners went over the totter – I enjoyed a hot coco with marshmallows. Very nice too!

Some more time in the woods – a paintball shoot, a football throw – both nailed easily, then a traverse wall to tire “monkey bar” rig that was pretty cool – before we hit the infamous christmas tree carry. Fortunately, my tree was considerably lighter than last years, which blew – and I spent 1/2 the carry proclaiming how much I loved my tree before we got to drop them off, and crawl through some open windows on abandoned cars, into a foam block pit in the middle – again, my giant dragon tail getting in the way … then onto Keg Kingdom, a much improved version over last year – I got a few kegs in this time, but ultimately, rigs are not my strong suit.

BlizzardBlastMedalOver the line to a kick ass medal, water and banana.

Blizzard Blast provides awesome swag, and a top notch social experience for members of the biggest team. Multiple laps were handled smoothly, logistics are all squared away and smooth. With snow on the ground, there would be few complaints – but without snow – people noticed the lack of obstacles in the first part of the course, and it was mentioned. 2017 – a shorter course backup plan may be in order to negate this.

However, 2016 Blizzard Blast gave us a stellar start to the season – we certainly sweated in our suits and earned our bling!

Do you have a Blizzard Blast story? Leave it right here!

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Reviewing races

When the New England Spahtens run a race, we try to leave two different kinds of reviews for future members, race directors and the community in general – both are important in different ways, and I wanted to spend a minute explaining what they are, and what they are for.


Featured Reviews – these are our extensive, deep dive into an event. Sometimes, we will receive a media pass (comp’d entry) to a race in exchange for it, but not always. They are, detailed, fair and well illustrated. The goal of a featured review is to allow the race director and anyone who didn’t run to get a good idea of what the event was like, what happened, how well it was run – it’s also an excellent chance for us to provide feedback and improvements – not every event will go perfectly, from short distances, to flimsy obstacles. We want to make sure that our group of experienced and objective reviewers provides that feedback in a constructive and productive manner

You can read our collection here:


New England Spahtens took second at the first Brian Bill Memorial Challenge
New England Spahtens took second at the first Brian Bill Memorial Challenge

Community Reviews – these are our community members, speaking their own voices. Individuals will submit their own opinions in shorter reviews, as detailed (or not) as the racer wants. These are as important! Without these, there is no comparison. A race that challenges a new runner will be simple and easy for a long distance endurance athlete. I would encourage every racer who has participated in an event to send us their review – it’s your group, your team, your race – tell us what you liked, what went right or wrong – be part of the best community of OCRs in the country (on the planet?)!

Every time we race an event, we want to collect these community reviews – you can submit yours here:

New England Spahtens at the Polar Bear Challenge, at Shale Hill Adventure Farm

Why are these important? 

We’re a growing team. In 6 months we’ve gone from under 100 members, to well over 500 folks in the Facebook Group, and every week, every event, that number grows – these new folks need to know which events are worth their time and effort and money! We also live in an area with a very active “local scene”, and new race director love this knowledge and information. From an email exchange I had with Michael Candelmo, co-organizor of the FIT Mud Run Challenge, coming to Wrentham MA  later this year.

” I have already been looking at your site with the race reviews  We want to make sure we learn from these other events so we do not make the same mistakes. We also want to take the best from other events and build on it.”

If that doesn’t tell you how important reviews are to this community, not much else will. Your feedback in invaluable, I hope you leave it every time you run a race.

New England Spahtans at Blizzard Blast