This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Race Spotlight

Yesterday, we announced our new Race Spotlight Series on Mud Run Guide. Hardcore Mudd Run kicks off the new series highlighting small and regional race series throughout North America. Hardcore Mudd Run is an event that raises money for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and was created by current and former firefighters.  Gideon Schwartz, one of the founders of Hardcore Mudd Run, talked to us about the race series that began in September of 2011 at Tussey Mountain Ski Area in State College, Pennsylvania.

Tell us a little about that first event at Tussey Mountain.

I (Gideon Schwartz) and a few other veteran Firefighters had participated in a few mud runs (Tough Mudder etc.,) and loved some of the camaraderies that came with it. But it was missing something! As firefighters, we are together a lot. We are training together, fighting fires or performing rescues, and it connects you. I think it was that connection we were looking for. The mud runs were missing the real BROTHERHOOD that every Firefighter loves about the fire house. So, after many hours of brainstorming, we came up the HARDCORE Mudd Run. This was our way to bring the Brotherhood we love to the public.

The first event took a year and a half to plan and execute. It was an 8-mile course with 23 obstacles. The event drew in just under 1,200 participants, and we (Hardcore Mudd Run) were able to donate $10,000.00, plus help raise a little more through private donations. At a total cost just shy of a quarter million dollars to promote and produce, the first event was a challenge and a great learning experience. But when the smoke all cleared, we had reached some very important goals and that made it a great success!

How has Hardcore Mudd Run grown since the first event?

Trifecta ad 4Over the past 4 years we have produced 13 events, in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania.

Since the first event, we have developed three different sized events, the SPRINT, ULTRA,  and EXTREME. Each one of these events challenges participants with increasing miles and number of obstacles. Also, for the first time in 2016, we are having a kids fun run, timed elite waves and Cash prizes for elite waves. We still have yet to roll out our LAST MAN STANDING event. This is a nonstop OCR event that only ends when we have the LAST MAN, WOMAN, and TEAM Standing. Winning this event comes with a $5000.00 cash prize.

What have your learned from each event you have put on?

Most importantly, to  listen to the people! Next, to give back to the community.  This comes from our Firefighter background. It’s not all about the bottom line, capital, and profits!!!!!! It is about the people and their story, what they have overcome and that they are not alone in the struggle.

How many events do you plan to hold in 2016?

We have changed gears in 2016 to Regional events. Instead of an event in each different state, straining resources and making the events suffer, we concentrated on ONE REGIONAL event with eight different events in it!

What are some of the obstacles that you get most excited for participants to try out?

We are bringing out the Firefighter Ax throw and the Hose Hoist in 2016.

Participants will have to throw a double sided Ax at a target 20 feet away and get it to stick. For the Hose Hoist participants will have to hoist a roll 5-inch LDH ( 75lbs Fire hose) and carry it for  25 feet.

Are you known for a certain obstacle?

Trifecta ad 15 (2)People love, and love to hate two of our obstacles! “Hands and Knees” and “The Paint Ball Run.”

Hands and knees consist of two long sections of heavy chain link fence lying flat and staked to the ground. The participants then have to crawl under. It is a chore, the mix of weight and mud is hard by yourself, but with teamwork and pure drive it can be done. I have watched people just collapse under the weight and have to wait for another runner to help them through.

The Paint Ball Run is more of a psychological obstacle than a  physical one. People tend to over analyze this obstacle. You have a choice, either crawl below a hay bale line or, if they are feeling froggy, they can run and face the firing squad of paint ballers.

What do you think makes Hardcore Mudd Run stand out from the others in the industry?

We have been told by many participants that we are one of the harder courses out there.  I know a lot of people will say “NO WAY” but our response is, “TRY US”.

How have you seen the industry evolve since you began holding events?

Hardcore Mudd RunThere is a lot of good and bad in the industry, I think it is slowly moving in the right direction, but it gets stalled up with the big three and the profit side of OCR! I think if the industry would come together in the spirit of camaraderie that a lot of the companies preach, I think it would move a lot faster to becoming an officially regulated sport. Then you have companies that burst on to the market, pouring obscene amounts of money into events,  which makes it harder for smaller events, like HMR, to operate. People will see all the flash for events and expect other smaller legitimate events to do the same, and that just isn’t the way it works most of the time. There are a lot of amazing smaller events out there and hopefully; people will step out and try them. Variety is the spice of life!

Then you have companies that burst on to the market, pouring obscene amounts of money into events,  which makes it harder for smaller events, like HMR, to operate. People will see all the flash for events and expect other smaller legitimate events to do the same, and that just isn’t the way it works most of the time. There are a lot of amazing smaller events out there and hopefully; people will step out and try them. Variety is the spice of life!

Do you have anything else new coming up this year to share with readers?

Hopefully in the next few months, we will be rolling out the physical fitness side of HMR. We are starting to work with Fire Rescue Fitness on developing things like physical fitness training videos that are Firefighter oriented, fitness programs, WODs, that can help you prepare for an OCR type event.

Finally, anything else you think is important about your event series and your story behind it.

HMR was founded by Firefighters, and the HMR Staff has made HMR what it is today. HMR is a labor of love. Everyone who works on the race all have regular 40-hour jobs and HMR is truly our passion. 

Any profits made from our events goes to National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The only money HMR makes is from Pain Camps and HMR apparel. That’s it!

This philosophy comes from the heart of a firefighter. It is a life of banding together to give back to our communities and keep them safe. This is not something new, but it has been forgotten by many. We at HMR want to keep this idea alive and join with others that believe the same.


Want to try Hardcore Mudd Run this year? 
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