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Playing in the Mud – Achieve Your Championship

This year, it was announced that there would be a United States OCR Championship to go along with a World Championship, two European Championships and countless other championships around the world. With these championships announced, people are starting to make plans. If you look around Facebook, particularly in the United States, people have started to post about plans. People are posting their OCRWC qualifying emails and all of their hotel and travel plans. What about the rest of us?

Most of us are not championship material.   Writers note: I know that a qualification for the US OCR Championships this year is a pulse and breathing, but you all understand what my point is overall. Most of us will never podium at a race or be in the first few that get the “Congratulations” email. So, what about the rest of us?

Goals. Let’s look at goals for a moment. Some people have the goal of winning, placing on the podium or qualifying for other races and championships. Others have the goal of time and beating past times. Then there are some like me and many others who have the goal of finishing. All are valid goals and from the people I know and talk to, more people have the goals that I have…finishing. So what are we to do?

We quit racing. No. That’s not serious. In fact, we push on and push forward and achieve our goals no matter what they are. As I have said repeatedly in the past, I am a sloth. I am not fast on any course, whether flat, mud, mountains, stadium. My goals are to finish any race I have started. I know what my limitations are and I know what I am capable of. Do you?

Goals are important to each and every one of us. We need something to look forward to and something to achieve. It is one of the reasons why we race. We go out there to test ourselves and see what we are capable of. We make ourselves uncomfortable to test our inner will. We want to overcome what we think cannot be done and we imagine the feeling we have when we have overcome the obstacles in front of us.

What is your goal? We all have them? Is it a 5k mud run? Is it a Tough Mudder? Savage Race? Endurance Run? Whatever it is, achieve it. My OCRWC is the Killington Beast in September. All along the way I have other races and even a tower climb mixed in. The Beast at Killington is my championship. That is my goal for the year. That is what I build to throughout the year. I start with a Beast in Jersey and race all along the way until I get to my championship. My goal is to get to that race, overcome it and collect a few medals and shirts along the way.

What are yours? Is your goal to finish a 5k, a 5-mile mud run, 10 mile race, a win, a podium or a championship. Go for them. Your goals start from within and they start with a statement. “I want to (fill in the blank)”. Once you announce your goal, it is out there for everyone to see and most importantly, for you to achieve.

After you announce it, live it. Spend your days and your time achieving your goal. Every time you set on a course, go into a gym, train on a trail, look toward your goal and achieve it. Believe in yourself and set a goal, overcome all obstacles and get to your championship. Whether your championship is finishing a race or the actual championship, achieve it.

Thanks for continuing to be the ones who want me to overcome, to achieve my goals and to wanting me to achieve my own championship. I hope I can help you push to achieve your goals and overcome any obstacles to achieve your championships. Until next time my friends, be epic and keep playing in the mud.

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Playing in the Mud – Be a Champion

Let’s be blunt here. I am not a great obstacle course racer. I know what my many limitations are and they are numerous. I cannot do a rig, or rings, or get over walls 9 feet or more, I have hit a spear throw once in my life and I believe I have completed two monkey bars ever. I had to put a rope in my backyard to learn to climb it and have completed it on a wet course once.

What does this mean? This means that my jealous side hates most of you that can all of those things. Also, because of some restrictions in my life’s schedule I know I can never go to the US OCR Championships or the OCR World Championships. I can barely get to most races in the New York area where I live. I guess that makes it good that I will never qualify for the “World’s,” so I don’t feel too bad about myself. Oh, don’t tell me that I can go as a Journeyman. I know that, but I am talking getting that email that all of you post on Facebook saying “QUALIFIER”. (The following statement is mine only and should apply to anyone else) In my head, going to the World’s as a Journeyman instead of qualifying is like saying that you “ended” up at Denny’s as opposed to “going” to Denny’s. (For those not in the United States, do a Google search for Denny’s and you’ll understand). It is also like being that guy who gets into the Baseball Hall of Fame because you had a long career and not because he did deserve it. Maybe because I am sloth-like and I cannot complete obstacles, I feel this way. I want to go. I wish I could go. Even if I could just feel the camaraderie and atmosphere, I know it would be worth it. I could tell everyone about OCR Buddy. I could hang out. I can make new friends. I heard how amazing it is and although I wish I could go and I continue to hate all of you for going,

So, I have this defense mechanism so it never truly bothers me. It slides away and falls into the back of my brain like those dreams of winning the lottery.

It doesn’t really bother me because I know my limits and abilities. Races such as a Tough Mudder or a Spartan Beast are my World’s. Everyone needs to your own goals and aim for them. Just because you are not on a pro team, on television, at the World’s or on a podium you are no less of a person or a racer. I think it takes someone special to do the things that are hard as opposed to easy. What is hard to you? Finishing on the podium? Qualifying? Finishing at all? Whatever is hard to you will make each and every event worth it to YOU!

I see people post photos of their medals and I look at the few that I get every year and realize that I did accomplish a lot for my abilities. I am a 46-year-old, former 300 pounder, twenty-two years removed form heart surgery, with a bad back (multiple herniated discs) and a shoulder that I pray survives every workout. Awesome, huh? I get out there and I treat each and every race like my World’s, whether it is an inflatable race, a 5k, a 10 mile or a 17-mile race on a mountain in Vermont.

So tomorrow I will train in my way, alone with my iPod playing my KISS songs and other rock that has inspired me. I know that no matter what I do, I will see my friends in Killington and I will attack the Spartan Beast and know after I finish that race, that I am a champion.

I hope my thoughts haven’t offended anyone. Just know that my hate for you is just jealousy because I wish I could accomplish what you can. I wish I could run the races that you run. I wish I could have the physical abilities that you have. Instead, I am a Ginger, I can steal your soul if I please and I am damn proud of the person I am.

My hope for all of you reading this is that you realize that you are a champion no matter what course you attempt because you are a champion of life. You have accomplished amazing things. Your life and your story is epic and no matter what you do from here through eternity…you ARE A CHAMPION to me.

Ask yourself, am I a champion? If the answer is not yes, make a plan, attack it and train for it. Life will give you it’s own version of monkey bars, walls, spear throws and rigs and you will face these obstacles like you do the ones on a race course. The only difference is that once you succeed in life, there is no obstacle that can ever stop you or slow you down. Be a champion. Stay a champion. Qualify for your “World’s” and do not ever let anyone push you down, keep you down or get in your way.

 

Until we meet again, be epic and as always, keep playing in the mud.

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The NE Spahtens Show – Episode 9

fitchallengelogoThis episode is brought to you by FIT Challenge – check out their website for full information on their OCR and Trail series! http://www.fitchallenge.org

After a longer than normal break – Paul, Josh and Sandy are back. In episode 9 we talk about Tough Mudder – why Sandy is such a fan, and what happened during her two Tough Mudder weekend – and why Josh is scared to death of his first Tough Mudder coming up. We compare the way Tough Mudder has evolved to the way Spartan has, and answer the age old question, which is better, Tough Mudder or Spartan Race (disclaimer: we don’t really answer that question).

We cover the local races we attended during the summer break – Heart Challenge and Obstacle Adventures for kids, and answer some listener questions from Sara and Greg.

Lastly, we discuss a special episode devoted to the new TV shows – so listeners – would you like to hear such an episode? Let us know!

As usual – if you enjoy the show, let us know! Leave us a review wherever you are listening, leave us a comment or question – and thanks for tuning in!

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The Kids Are In The Game!

Benson Bear

Soon, the 2016 #racelocal Grand Prix will be on us.  Walls will be climbed, heavy things carried, miles will be run, mountains will be scaled.  There are medals to be earned.  One of the items we are very excited, and very proud, to announce about ~this year’s~ 2016 Grand Prix is it’s not just for *you* any longer.

It’s time to get the kids into the game!

A few early details for you: Some races will have a minimum age requirement, some will not.  Some will have a minimum age requirement, and require the child to run with their parent.  But this year your children are going to have the ability to run, crawl, jump, get muddy, and #racelocal right along with you! FULL details are coming very soon!

MaAlong with the registration information, there will be information about how to register your child for #racelocal as well.  While you are earning swag for your races, so will your child (or children). Oh, wait…you didn’t think we’d save all the cool stuff for the big kids, did you?  Oh, no…we have a lot of very cool things lined up just for the kids division!  The more they race, the more they earn!

What could be better than spending the day together, racing, and earning cool swag?  That’s what we thought, too…nothing!  Which is why we’ve put this whole thing (and prizes) together!

Racing should be able to combine all of your passions together, and now it can.  We told you the 2016 #racelocal was going to be bigger and better than ever, and we mean it.

Now, look – medals and prizes are fantastic, we all enjoy earning them.  We have all crossed a finish line with friends, our battle buddies. Imagine taking on a race with your family! Helping each other on the course, building memories as you finish the race together; those would be memories which would stay with you, and your family members, forever!  Ultimately this is the big goal, to bring us all together.  #racelocal #strongertogether

FIT

We hope you have questions, and we hope you’re as excited as we are! Keep your eyes peeled, more information will be coming soon!  All questions will be answered soon!

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OCR’s First Network Television Exposure

Last weekend Obstacle Racing history was made!

This past September, NBC Sports descended upon Mt. Killington, as did thousands of racers, for the Spartan Race World Championship. The intent was to record the race and broadcast it in November. For whatever reason, the decision was made to put it off until December. The tension heightened briefly when news of the delay broke, as those that were looking forward to seeing it were getting more and more anxious. Could it have been NBC wanted to edit it down some more? Or, was this another one of Spartan’s cruel jokes, we all know Joe and Andy love to build us up to bring us back down again… alas, the day was upon us!

Nationwide, Spartans besieged training facilities, bars and living rooms to view the spectacle. Here in Massachusetts there were at least two events I knew of. One was held at Fanueil Hall in Boston and was hosted by the Spartan Race founders themselves. The other, in which I attended with a slew of other Spahtens, was held in Warwick, RI at Unleashed. The plan was to train for a bit at their immense OCR facility then head over to a local bar that was airing the event.

rsz_spartanchamp2We trained for an hour and a half, changed, then the convoy began to Millers Crossing. We arrived and steadily the bar filled up. Their were a couple of locals at the bar in for an early Saturday drink or two, and they shook their heads wondering what we were all there for. 4pm hit and on cue the show began to much jubilation. Voices were hushed and we settled in.

How was it? Well, to be honest, I think it could have run a lot longer. An hour didn’t seem like enough time to truly capture the whole experience. If you have run one, then you know what I mean. That said, I understand why the decisions were made to present it to the public like it was. Ideally, Spartan is looking to be at the forefront of making OCR a legitimate sport. What we got was a bunch of footage of the elite racers. There were some brief bio’s given of each, but again, they only had an hours time so it was not as in-depth as some might hope.

There were a couple of stories scattered of some inspirational figures such as Chris Davis, Danny Rodriguez and Winter Vinecki of Team Winter. A Spartan Racer from Texas, Isaiah Vidal, was challenged and funded by Joe Desana (co-founder of Spartan Race) to ride his bike from Texas to Vermont. Briefly, a brain cancer survivor was highlighted, and pumped up those of us that watched with his miraculous turn around story.

spartanchamp3Other than that, it was coverage of the race. Not much mention of individual obstacles, or at least not more than a couple. They did touch on some of the staples such as the spear toss, herculean hoist and the sandbag carry but this is where I think some attention could have been concentrated. Showing it done by the elites may have made some of those couch sitters cringe. Watching Matt, Cody and the other’s conquer the obstacles seemed like something only someone who was totally in shape could do, thus, making said couch sitter continue to sit on the couch. There was no ripping of people off the couch this time around.

I am certain this was only a smidgeon of what Spartan had hoped to present, and I am confident this is not the only time we will see Spartan featured on a sports network or television for that matter. With such a large partner as Reebok, be assured that their hands were in this too as far as editing and stuff went. This showing was as much a “show me party” to the world for Spartan Race as it was Reebok to parlay their new line of sneakers. I would love to see the next installment brought down to earth for the lay folk, because they are what are driving the popularity of the sport and obstacle races in general.

noahmtvNot to be lost in Spartan and Reebok’s big weekend, unbeknownst to most of us, MTV was airing an episode in their True Life ( series in which three people were training for a Tough Mudder. Of the three story lines, the one that interested me most was Noah Galloway’s. In case you didn’t know, Noah was a soldier and one day the vehicle he was in was hit by a roadside bomb. He lost his left arm and leg. After feeling sorry for himself and drowning himself in alcohol and other harmful habits, he awoke and realized it was time to move beyond that. Since then he has completed 7 Tough Mudder’s, a number of Spartan Race’s and more. His story is amazing and he has become a major influence people’s lives. I know my boys see him and are blown away by his drive and tenacity.

The second story line was about a set of male twin brother’s. They are both super competitive and always provoking the other into challenges to see who is better. They commit to get in on a Tough Mudder to decide once and for all who is best. After a talking to by their mom though, the boys realize they must work together, not against each other, in order to complete to course.

Lastly, the third “character” is a younger woman who wants to do this to prove to other she is more than just a princess. I will keep my forked tongue between my teeth here, but will just say that after all the whining she does get through and completes the Tough Mudder, so good for her.

noahmtv2While some may say Tough Mudder got the larger exposure being on MTV and all, that is debatable. Both OCR Series have their niche, and like previously mentioned, Spartan Race is truly trying to push beyond just being a mud run series and take this sport to a professional level. Tough Mudder, while difficult in its own right, is not looking for much more than they already have. I’m sure a few more ticket sales wouldn’t be bad, considering some of the bad press they have received from some recent accidents (including a death). MTV was the right market for them and I will argue that all day, it’s the crowd they are looking for. I think Spartan could have tried a sports network that more people had as part of the cable subscriptions as NBC Sports is part of a higher paying package. With their vision to take this to the next level and expose OCR as a truly competitive sport, a sports network was just right to find their audience.

All in all though, both shows were effective in getting out the message that obstacle races and fun runs are here to stay and will continue to grow. Whether you are looking for some fun in the mud with some friends, or are looking to make some cash running with the elites, there is always a race for those that are interested in trying one out.

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Game time

It’s game time.

One more sleep until we bring the biggest and best team Spartan Race has ever had. One more sleep until several of us also take on Tough Mudder (same weekend, *really*). One more sleep until the Hurricane Heat.

There really isn’t a lot left to say or do. You’re ready for this. You’ve got this. You may be confident that you’re trained and primed and raring to go, you may be petrified that you haven’t done enough and you’ll struggle.

Doesn’t matter. You’ve still got this.

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Now it’s time to make the choice, mentally. Do you want to go into this scared, and full of doubt? Or do you want to go into this pumped and ready to kill that course? You can make the choice about how you feel on that start line.

Trust your body. Trust that 98% of all Sprint distance starters finish. Trust that when you get told to do 30 burpees, you can, and you will. Trust that you will be surrounded by the best support system you could ever wish for. This community was *made* for this, and you are a part of that.

During our team heat, someone will be the first off that course, someone will be the last off that course. They get the same t shirt, they get the same medal – but I guarantee you that the person finishing last gets the bigger self confidence boost, and the bigger reward to their life, long term. It’s like a prize for being last, that no one told you to expect.

First or last, you will finish.

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No more talk about how slow you are. No more talk about how big you are, or how scared you are, or how injured you are, or how unprepared you are. You will still step up to that line tomorrow, and you will run the same race as everyone else, and you will earn that damned medal, like everyone else. It will have even more meaning to you, because you earned it over 3 hours, instead of 1 – or you dragged your obese ass over an 8′ wall, instead of your 2% body fat ass … You will earn it all the more. Injury will slow you down, make you adapt and over come – but that finishers medal will be earned. The obstacles will be overcome.

As Spartan says … You will know at the finish line.

As Mens Warehouse says … I guarantee it.

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Featured Review: Tough Mudder “Boston” 2013

Jeremy “Batman” Fedderly took a spin of the “not even close to” Boston Tough Mudder this past weekend – and came back to us with a featured review – thanks!

You can read more reviews from the team here, and send us your own review too!

http://www.newenglandspahtens.com/submit-a-race-review/tough-mudder-gunstock-nh-2013/

Tough Mudder logo

On Saturday I had the pleasure of running Tough Mudder’s  “Boston” event at Gunstock Mountain resort in NH.  Having run one of them before, I went into it ready for plenty of water and electricity obstacles.

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I arrived Saturday morning to the parking area, which was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. From there, you had to take a 30-45 minute bus ride to the actual race site. This was a little inconvenient, but expected.

We arrived at the mountain at around 10:30 with at start time of 11:45. At first glance, we weren’t sure if we would make it in time. The crowd was overwhelming! There was a lot more people there than the last one I went to. We made our way over to the check-in area. Despite the crowds, check-in was very smooth and expeditious. We were through within 5 minutes.

We got ready for the race and made our way over to the start. One of the biggest worries of the day for everyone there was the heat.. it was unbearably hot! We lathered up in sunscreen and jumped the initial wall into the starting area, where the MC was just starting the Tough Mudder opening speech for our wave. One thing Tough Mudder has always done well, and today was no different, they motivate everyone to have a great time. To help accommodate the dangers of being in the heat, they even added 6 more water stations to the course! Great idea, TM. Good on you.

There were the usual obstacles you see at Tough Mudder. The Arctic Enema, Barbed Wire Crawl, Berlin Walls, Electric Eel, Walk the Plank, Funky Monkey, Everest, Electroshock Therapy.. It seemed very lacking in the barbed wire and wall jumping department, and it didn’t seem as though there was anything new. The only difference I could see from this one and the last one was a buddy carry over a short distance. I still couldn’t make it across the Funky Monkey, there’s something about those incline monkey bars that kill me every time. (any advice would be great!) The Electric Eel and Electroshock Therapy was disappointing. Compared to the last time, it was almost like the electricity wasn’t even on.

The Walk the Plank obstacle had to be shut down before we could get to it. It wasn’t until later that I heard that the obstacle itself had collapsed with people on it! Reports from Tough Mudder in an email claim that no one was hurt. How does something like this happen?? Construction issue? Design flaw? The issue I have with this is that it is a common obstacle in their races. Something like this shouldn’t be happening.

The lines seemed to move pretty smoothly through the obstacles. There was only one obstacle I can think of that we had a significant wait time for. There were these two elevated logs you had to pull yourself over. By the time you made it to them, you were too muddy to make it over on your own, so everyone was helping each other over them. Those that tried to get over on their own either slipped off and got hurt or scraped up their arms trying to claw their way over. Other than that, the course itself ran pretty smoothly.

The venue was great. Tough Mudder did a great job mapping out the course. There were a few hills in the beginning of the course to help get you warmed up, then they stepped it up for the last few miles with lots of challenging inclines. I have also always been happy with their spectator routes. Being able to stop and see the family halfway through the course was great. So far, Ruckus and Tough Mudder are the only races I have seen that handle the spectating well.

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We finished up the race, grabbed our headbands and free beers, and made our way to the bus area. Immediately, we were turned around by a HUGE line at the bus loading area! Some people we talked to said they had been waiting for around 40 minutes to get on a bus. We decided to wait in the shade to avoid the heat while the lines died down. I don’t think that there was anything Tough Mudder could have done to prevent this from happening. The buses seemed to be running pretty smoothly.

We did have an issue with the buses themselves. They were coded by specific parking lots, and that wasn’t communicated very well to the runners/spectators. Many people got onto a random bus, and was taken to a completely different lot from their car.

So overall, the course itself was fun. I don’t think it was anything special. I can’t justify spending that amount of money to go again when I can get the same experience for half the money with a different race, but it was a great time in the mud with some friends.

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Adventure 5k, Tough Mudder and 90+f

We’ve got a big weekend of racing ahead, and a bit of a warning …

Firstly, the weather through until Sunday is forecast to be in the 90’s, with high humidity. Thats going to be brutal weather to be racing in, esepcially if you’re in the midday or afternoon heats! Start your hydration process now, and if you’re going to be out there for a while, seriously consider bringing along your own water supply, rather than rely on the course to provide. Seriously consider running with a buddy too, in case you get into trouble out there.

Secondly – we have a bunch of local races going on, and New Hampshire is getting all the love! There are also some big races going on out of region too – with many Spahtens making the road trip.

Adventure 5k

http://www.nh.com/5k

Adventure 5K is being held at the Liquid Planet Water Park in Candia, NH – the Spahtens have a team heat at 11am, and we’ll be meeting behind the registration booth prior to that.

Tough Mudder logo

 

http://www.toughmudder.com

The rescheduled “Boston” Tough Mudder, held on Gunstock Mountain, NH – we’ve got several heats going out, starting early in the day. Check in with the team to confirm heat times if you want to run with us.

 

Then, there’s the “Others”

Also in NH is the Mountain Mucker event, let me know if you’re running it, I’d love to get a review from you! http://www.themountainmucker.com/

NY Tuxedo Spartan Sprint race – no information needed here 🙂 http://www.spartanrace.com

 

Race safe, stay hydrated!

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Worlds Toughest Mudder opens it’s doors to all

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Want to run World Toughest Mudder? Part with some cash, and you can.

http://toughmudder.com/worlds-toughest-mudder-series-finals/

Now, whats your excuse?

 

Worlds Toughest Mudder is the culmination of the Tough Mudder yearly calendar. Held over the past two years, you had to log a fast time at a Tough Mudder event to qualify even to run it. You do laps of a Tough Mudder course over 24 hours, and generally, it sucks.

Of course, there is their first problem. Entry was never policed, and because they are un-timed, you could effectively just fib your way in. Removing this condition has proven pretty controversial of course – people now feel it has “cheapened” the experience – anyone with a few hundred bucks and a plane ticket to the venue can run.

Others welcome it – they have “upped” the prize money considerably, and are offering prizes for other achievements during the event – most night laps for example, and as someone who loved his experience last year said to me , “I think anyone should be able to try it”

And anyone can. If you pay them the hundreds of dollars it costs to get in, and the gear you will need (and you will need it).

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“Challenge” Review: Tough Mudder Miami

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Tough Mudder has been taking lots of heat and deservedly so for changing the date of the Boston event.  Even more criticism has come their way by scheduling the New England Mudder on the same weekend as the Spartan Sprint at Amesbury.  Add their high prices paired with bully behavior and many Spahtens have written off Tough Mudder for 2013 and beyond.  In my opinion, that could be a mistake.

Here’s what you see and experience at a Tough Mudder:

  • Money spent on the festival area and the course
  • A lengthy 10-12 mile course that is pure fun other than electrocution
  • Take a break from burpee penalties
  • Mandatory assistance to/from fellow mudders
  • Excellent spectator access to obstacles at many parts of the course
  • A large variety of obstacles, with new and unique additions built for 2013 (see pics)
  • Humerous and motivational signage throughout the course
  • The best pre-race starting line pep talk
  • Very well supported courses with water, bananas, oranges, energy gel chews (6 stations in Miami, only 2 had just water)
  • Protein bars, bananas, beer, and water at the finish line
  • Schwag bag with tech shirt, protein bars and energy gels courtesy of CLIFF
  • Foil blankets (race temps were in the 50s, which is freezing for South Florida)

The Miami event took place on March 3rd & 4th at the Homestead Miami Speedway.  One week’s time made a huge difference in weather.  It was cold, cloudy and windy, the exact opposite of the Spartan super a week earlier.  Despite that, TM made good use of the venue both inside and outside the racetrack.  Athletes ran on the racetrack, pit stop areas, burm top, and the surrounding fields.  The festival area, start and finish were located inside the track.  Although there were no trails, the 11+ miles were extremely fun and loaded with approximately 25 obstacles that were a refreshing change to my recent Spartan runs.

My only negative issue was the two obstacles that provided electric shocks.  The crawling “Electric Eel” zapped me 6-10 times and the “Electroshock Therapy” took out my buddy.  The shocks appeared to be much stronger and more  frequent than my last TM.

I too was disappointed that the 5/11 Boston event was moved to another date.  I negotiated pre-approval with my wife and I was ready to book travel pending the venue announcement.  I’m not a competitive runner, so the TM suits me well.  You get a solid distance to thoroughly enjoy conversation-paced jogging with your crew and fellow mudders.  The TM is a great event to share with friends, teammates, and comrades over a few hours.  My advice:  Do a TM when it makes financial sense and never regret the decision.  You will have a fantastic time with your mates.  I look forward to seeing many of you at the Ruckus!