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Episode 15: Wicked Mud Run

wmrLogoWicked Mud Run is a local, entry level OCR doing lots of things right. Focusing on fun, they do offer a competitive 10k option, and fundraise for some very personal to the founders charities. This is also one of the newest entries to the #racelocal Grand Prix

Take a listen as I chat with Ray Thomson, co-founder of the series.

Learn more:

Also worth noting: This will be our final episode! But don’t worry, all the content will be merged into our other show, The NE Spahtens Show, and interviews with Race Directors and personalities will continue, but audio only. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast to get them!

Audio only:

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Featured Review: Wicked Mud Run

Wicked Mud Run is a central MA based OCR held on the venue used by Elevated Training – we sent Nicole along to check them out!

wickedmudrunlogoThis Saturday, I headed to Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and Ski Ward to represent the NE Spahtens at Wicked Mud Run. It was one of my first media gigs, and I was very excited. Judging by the Facebook event, the team was going to have a small turn-out, but I was planning for fun nonetheless. The sun was shining. It was cool and comfortable. It was the perfect day for a 5K obstacle course race!

I arrived at Ski Ward about an hour before the scheduled team heat. As per the email sent to race participants, parking was free. (Spectators too, which was nice because it looked like some people brought their kids.) Ski Ward is, in the words of the British, “wee.” It’s more of a bunny slope than a ski mountain. In keeping with that, there was a small dirt parking lot in front, and then a small lodge at the foot of the hill that served hamburgers, ice cream, and beer. The parking was steps away from the festival area. You could leave you bag in your car easily. They also provided a free bag check, which is what I did, having no place to leave my car keys otherwise. These nice little perks – free parking, free spectators, and free bag check – definitely provided a good impression.

After getting out of my car, I headed into the festival area to pick up my bib. Here I hit a bit of a snag. The registration and bib pick-up line was long and slow moving. At one point, they even had to take people who were doing the 11:00 a.m. heat and have them cut to the front of the line so that they’d make it to the starting line on time. As it was, the first and second heats ended up starting a few minutes behind, though nothing serious. Spending a fairly long time at registration at a pretty small race is kind of a hassle and could have been avoided by having more volunteers at registration. (That being said the volunteers that were at registration were awesome! Sorry you guys were so overworked.) On the plus side, I got to spent my time in the registration line chatting with fellow Spahten Marc, who was volunteering, so I cannot say that I had anything other than a pleasant wait.

Wicked Mud Run FestivalAfter receiving my bib, I decided to walk around the festival area. It was very small, but the booths that were there were interesting. There was a bag check that was giving out Honest Tea. Zoobells was there – these kettlebells are seriously so cool, and I really want to get some; the koala is extra adorable. There was also a local obstacle course racing gym. The tables were limited, but it was a nice assortment of small and local businesses. The festival atmosphere was enhanced by a live band that was playing on the far side of the starting coral.


Soon, they called our wave. I stepped into the chute with a couple of other Spahtens. There were some brief remarks, music played, a horn sounded, and without much fanfare, we were off.


The race started with a short wall of around 4’ followed by a climb up the hill. There was a small backlog at the wall but nothing serious. I quickly rolled over the wall and begin jogging/hiking up the hill. Next up was a ladder wall. It was short – probably around seven or eight feet, but it was given some interest by having the rungs on the far side of the ladder wall be on a diagonal.Wicked Mud Run Start

We then entered a stretch of wood with some trail running. The terrain was nice featuring some rolling hills with rocks and logs mixed in. It served to keep things a little bit interesting. In the woods, we encountered an inverted wall with a net attached. I was running with fellow Spahten, Shaina, who is a regular at Elevated Training. She mentioned that normally the inverted wall and the net are two separate obstacles. Today, for Wicked Mud Run, they were conjoined to aid people with the wall and make things more beginner-friendly.

After the climbing the net and sliding down the inverted wall, we headed down the hill to a very short rope climb. The climb was maybe 8’. Max. I did the j-hook and two pulls up and I was to the top. I dropped down and was ready to slalom my way back up the hill.


From this point, I do not exactly recall the precise arrangement of the obstacles. I remember doing a slightly taller 7’ wall as well as some short hurdles. I fondly remember doing a set of monkey bars, which served as my favorite obstacle of that day! For this obstacle, there were two lanes. One was just widely spaced monkey bars – around a half dozen of them. The other, featured a horizontal bar, from which you had to transition to around three or four monkey bars. I chose the latter and had a blast on this obstacle. I had to get a good swing going to make it from one wide monkey bar to the other. After the monkey bars, was a taller eight or nine foot wall. All of the walls featured kicks and were very manageable.

Ski WardFrom there, we came upon the traverse wall. The race had two traverse walls. One was a standard short traverse wall. The second was a zig zag traverse wall. I chose the second one. The blocks on the wall were actually pretty far apart and getting around the corner was a challenge. I really liked this one!

Next up was the mud portion of Wicked Mud Run. We had to wade through a couple of muddy trenches that went up to my belly button. This was more water than mud though, and I didn’t get terribly dirty during the race, which is fine as far as I’m concerned. Then, it on to another pair of trenches of similar depth, this time with a pair of logs in each that you had to go over or under – I chose over. Following that was a sandbag carry. I usually dread carries, but this one was a short out-and-back a not very steep section of hill. Plus, the sandbag was probably 15 or 20 pounds at the most. I was happy to be able to jog the down section of the hill.

From there, it was another set of watery-mud pits (which were seriously nasty) follow by a small angled wall with a rope. This wall and rope climb was short – probably around 7’ and fine, even with wet shoes. Next, we headed a short ways back up the hill before descending to a slip-n-slide. I’ve been wary of slip-n-slides since 2013 and the Superhero Scramble’s disastrous slip-n-slide in Amesbury. However, the one at Wicked Mud Run was nothing to worry about. It was short and not that steep. A friendly volunteer with a hose, who was manning the obstacle, told me to run and dive. I apparently didn’t run and dive hard enough because I ended up like a beached whale about midway along the slide. I had to paddle my way forward, as another volunteer recommended soaping the entire obstacle. (Yes, this was entertaining.)

From there, it was a very short run to the finish line, which I crossed after around 50 to 55 minutes out on the course. I was handled a very neat medal. (Though no t-shirt – those cost extra.)

Wicked Mud Run Medal

Honestly, the biggest challenge of the day was finding some place to change out of my wet race gear and into clean clothing. With no changing tent and no rinse station, this proved a bit of a logistical problem. I ended up hiding out in some random ski boot rental location at Ski Ward to change my clothing and try to towel off. (I had a lunch date with a friend and had to look at least somewhat like a normal person! #ocrproblems)

This race, appropriately, seemed to attract a lot of first time obstacle course racers. As I traveled through the course, this made sense. The course was, for lack of a better word, friendly. There were no serious climbs, though we went up and down the hill at Ski Ward around four times. The obstacles were small and simple. Only one or two provided any real challenge in my mind. (Note: To be clear, I race at Shale Hill. A lot. My sense of what is normal may be warped by this.) Ski Ward is home to Elevated Training. I would have loved to see Wicked Mud Run partner with them and use even more of the Elevated Training obstacles in the course. Fixed obstacles, like the rope traverse that Elevated Training has, were bypassed in the Wicked Mud Run course to provide a more beginner-friendly experience. Again, I speak of this as a “criticism” only as someone who has done a fair bit of obstacle course racing. For the person doing their first race, Wicked Mud Run is a good bet – it’s not too challenging, the course is well laid out, and everyone is very friendly and encouraging. I cannot think of many courses where I have been cheered on as much as I was at Wicked Mud Run. The volunteers were simply stellar about this.

Wicked Mud Run does need to sort out some of its details. Registration was a big inconvenience. So was having nowhere to change. These sound like small criticisms, but they are key things and need need to be handled well.

Bottom line: This race was not for me. It’s for the newbie obstacle course racer trying their first race. I had an okay time. My enjoyment was enhanced by the cool people on the course. The obstacles, for me, were a bit simple and easy. Yes, I do a lot of obstacle course racing and prefer challenging course, so I am coming at it from that perspective. All that being said, I definitely think the registration snafu needs to be addressed if this race wants to attract a larger crowd. At around $30 to $40 per person, this race is a bargain and good for first-timers wanting a very beginner-friendly race. Would I travel out to Ski Ward for this race again? Probably not. But then again, it’s not for me, is it?

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Featured Review: Wicked Mud Run

Katie Webber was the Race Co-Ordinator for the first Wicked Mud Run, held on the same weekend as the Death Race.  I can’t thank her enough for her efforts in building a great volunteer crew, and working directly with the race director to make sure the Spahtens were well represented and looked after! Here’s to a long, happy life for the Wicked Mud Run race!

You can read more reviews from the team (and leave your own) here: Community Reviews



I had the please of serving as the race coordinator for the NE Spahtens for the inaugural Wicked Mud Run race on June 22.   Paul gave me the assignment pretty last minute…and it was competing with the Death Race for NE Spahten attendance, but over all I think the team had a good time and made an impact both as a major chunk of the volunteer staff as well as top finishers!

I think this RC system is fantastic for our team that is growing faster than we can even process! It really helps to have one point person to go to, and I think it really helps the RDs instead of having hundreds of people emailing them asking the same questions.

As far as working with the Race Directors goes, Dan and Ray seem like really passionate guys out there not trying to just make a profit.  Despite some issues with volunteers list and racer lists, we made it work and I think everyone was accounted for.

A few issues I had before even going into the race was the price of the race. It was a little steep for a brand new OCR that is not known at all.  I realize that there are major costs that go into these races, but they are popping up every where and OCRers need to be smart about how much they are paying and if the race is SAFE.    The competition is HOT and RDs really need to deliver.   We did REALLY appreciate the team discount of 20 bucks off, however because the code kept getting extended to different dates and I had no idea what to tell people for a deadline, some people kind of just blew off this race. Other people were frustrated because they thought those deadlines were set and they signed up only to find out that the code had been extended (again and again).  Dan and Ray were GREAT about refunding people when that happened though.  They were also great about all the transfers and stuff that we had going on.

As for the even itself, it was a pretty successful starter.  The event was in a new OCR location for me; it was at the Bolton Fairgrounds in the Lancaster area.  It was a VERY beautiful venue with a lot of potential for some of these shorter but still high quality OCRs.  Parking and spectators were free which was GREAT! Only about 150 registered for the event, which was a bummer for them I am sure. I personally volunteered so I got a pretty good look at stuff from behind the scenes that I will be happy to share with the RDs.

Some things I would suggest for the future would be making sure you have enough materials for all the volunteers: volunteer shirts, pens, petty cash, replacements for when they run the race, etc.  The volunteers racing and not having replacements was something I brought up to Dan via email a couple weeks beforehand, but it did was still very disorganized. Because most of our volunteers have done all this before, we knew how to help Dan figure out the situation and we had fun racing in the final heat.

The course itself was advertised as a 5k, but one of our teammates used a GPS watch and found it was around 2.7mi. That is a little disappointing.  I felt that the course was a lot of running and not very well laid out, as they often had us running around the same small hill, or running up and down lanes they had roped off. I felt like we were cattle being herded. The obstacles were great starter obstacles.  For someone who has never run an OCR, this might be a great intro, but it fell short for my personal expectations and was far to easy. Infact, it might be similar to something of a kids race.  They had some moats, some walls (short walls, tall with rope, tall but with foot holes), tire pile, some fencing laid horizontal to crawl under, and walking through the pond a couple times.  I believe Dan said they were supposed to have more, but stuff fell through.

The sponsors were great—NRG bar, Inov8, Sports Authority, Nantucket Beer (?).  I did not see much from the sponsors other than the beer and the NRG bars (which I think is owned by the RD).  Another perk was the free food and 2 free beers for racers.

There were no shirts (only $20 shirts for sale) nor medals—touchy subject after Ruckus—but there were….can ya guess??? Pint glasses! TOO SOON!   Dan did say however, they plan to BOTH glasses and medals for future races.  They are also planning a kid’s race for future events.

NE Spahtens won largest team so some prizes will be coming our way shortly—stay tuned for that!   Dan also asked for our feedback and everyone gave it.  He took it all well and was really honest with us about the future of Wicked Mud Runs.    All and all I think they might have something here. I think they were just in over their heads and it was not as well planned and executed as  they had probably hoped.  They have a great attitude about it and are graciously accepting tons of feedback.  This is an oversaturated market with many new races dropping like flies because they cannot stand up to what some of the bigger companies can offer.  Dan said that they do not want to be the next Tough Mudder or Spartan Race; they just want to provide a family-friendly event that people will enjoy.  As long as they provide an event that is safe, fun, UNIQUE, and challenging they will probably do well!

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Wicked Mud Run – new event

When a new race pops up on the scene, the first reaction from me is always caution. We’ve been burned by a new (ish) race before, and small events – while sometimes some of the most fun around – sometimes they are just a little bit … crap.

So, when a new race popped up and they have big names behind them already … well, I pay a bit more attention. Recently, Wicked Mud Run did just that.


Coming from the founder of local energy food company NRG Bar, Wicked Mud Run is his first obstacle course race – but when I chatted to the race director, Dan – his background in organizing events, and exposure to OCRs is a little more than simply an avid fan … not only has he competed in events, but he’s vended at one of our favorites, Ruckus, and organized and built a successful road race series in his home town.

Plus, he is putting his NRG Bar company name behind this event as a sponsor. And bringing in others, Cisco Beers for one – and a little shoe company we may have come across, Inov-8. Thats some pretty big hitters.

I’m also relieved to report that the RD didn’t try to tell me his event was the best, biggest, hardest, toughest, muddiest … his goal is to put on a fun race, get enough runners to break even, and put his efforts into a race series – his goal is to be offering cash prizes, shoe vouchers, free beer and fun. Lots of fun.

He has a tight time window, and he’s up against the Death Race for scheduling – but he is also reading every review on our website, and offering a discount code to the Spahtens (you can find it by joining our event on Facebook).

So, if you’re not in VT for the Death Race, and want to run a promising OCR with other NE Spahten, sign up and check this one out.