Update 10/13: With the demise of several different races, this topic is more important than ever. I specifically called out events that I had faith in – Hero Rush and Superher Scramble were two of 'em – and was left with egg on my face when they closed up operations. It has become even more imperative to “do your homework” and check reviews and keep up with events to make sure they deserve your hard-earned money.
Hey, this is Brett – for those who haven't read any of my books or don't know me, let me just say I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy. I always look for the positive in each situation and give anyone I meet the benefit of the doubt. I've made it through over 4 decades being an optimist, and although my wife doesn't realize it I'm a pretty decent realist as well. One thing I have a bit of a knack for is spotting trends; whether it is in interpersonal relationships or in business. For example, as a graphic artist/digital designer for my entire career, I have seen the cyclical process of in-house and outsourced design teams over the past 25+ years enough that I can spot it from a mile away. I've worked with multiple technology start-ups (and a by-product is knowing more about “Crossing the Chasm” than the average Joe) and I have been involved in the sport of triathlon for well over a decade and have seen it flourish.
Obstacle Races and Mud Runs (Ob/Mud) as a whole are in danger of Jumping the Shark. It's happening right now, and if you care about the sport you need to get off your ass and contribute to the well-being of this fledgeling industry.
During 12+ months of research for Ultimate Obstacle Race Training I've dealt directly with nearly 30 adventures, and have been overly impressed with the 20 that I chose to cover in the book. Based on those numbers you can extrapolate that 2/3 of the races are of high quality – but that's not necessarily the whole story. Some good races have bad days when sh*t happens – even the tried-and-true events like Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder and the like are not immune. Some poor races get lucky and pull off a fun day for competitors – although those are relative anomalies. With hundreds of new races being added each month that range from church fundraisers to multi-million dollar operations it's tough for competitors to tell which one's which before plunking down $50-$100 and showing up on race day. While there are some true innovators to the sport (and the book covers many of them) there are some really shitty races out there – wolves in sheep's clothing – that are taking this sport down a dark path and ruining the reputation that so many events have worked extremely hard to build. They are ripping all of us off by taking our money and stealing the innovative ideas of the established events just to make a buck much like someone selling fake Gucci handbags on the street in Manhattan. We've been getting a ton of email at mudrunguide.com and a lot of the questions are:
Is race X or event Y any good? Will it be a real race or a cheap rip-off event thrown together to make money? Will I have fun? Will I get lost on a poorly marked course? Will I get hurt because of shoddy obstacles? Will I get my money's worth?
As Ob/Mud Races are coming out of the woodwork now, there seem to be more and more new events are just trying to cash in by throwing together a few walls and a mud pit – and that's fine – as long as racers know what to expect. Every event is different, in my book I took the time to explain the differences between a mud run and a themed event, a true obstacle race and other adventures; there are plenty of flavors to this sport that those new to the sport just don't understand. Let me make it very simple, have you had the following conversation with a co-worker?
“Hey dude, what's going on this weekend?” “Me and some buddies are doing a mud run on Saturday over at McCormack Farm, should be epic.” “Oh really, one of them Tough Mudders, eh?” “Yeah, I guess so… should be badass!”
Calling every race a “Tough Mudder” is like calling every 5k Turkey Trot the Ironman World Championships – it doesn't compute. Just because an event has some obstacles, it doesn't make it a Spartan Race or a Warrior Dash or a Savage Race. Just because there's a mud pit, you're not showing up for a Camp Pendelton-style mud run. If there happens to be some ice-covered water and log-crafted behemoth cargo net crossings you haven't been transported to Tough Guy in the UK. EVERY event is different. Hell, I cover multiple races in UORT that don't even have a drop of mud, and some that have challenges that are more mental than physical. My point is that you don't know what you're in for unless you can read an unbiased review and get some of the facts.
Here's where your homework comes in – if you want quality events, you need to provide real reviews that will help guide your fellow racers. If an event is unsafe and a rip-off, then they need to know to avoid it. Trust me, after 1 or maybe 2 poorly-attended events the shoddy, dangerous events will close up shop after losing their asses. The up-side (glass half-full, remember) is that the positive reviews will give creative, fledgling races a chance. Your reviews will keep 1000+ people from showing up or a debacle like Squish Squash** where a reported 999 left pissed off and channel 2000 racers to events like (Editor's note: both of these races no longer exist) Obstacle Apocalypse or Hero Rush that are working hard to bring something new to the sport.
That's why we've added reviews here on Mud Run Guide, you can add your review right on the event or organizer's page! No need to hunt around to get the lowdown and then find the link to register – we make it super-convenient, one-stop-shopping.
Here's an example (opens in a new window): https://www.mudrunguide.com/organizers/spartan-race
This is the warning shot across your bow! Educate other racers and newbies by providing ACCURATE un-biased* information about events and allow the good ones to grow while the scam artists whither and die. The future of the sport is in YOUR hands.
*un-biased means we don't want to hear mindless rants about getting the wrong T-shirt size or blindly supportive reviews because you have an affiliate link to signup so you make $5.
** We don't mind calling out a crap event – even if they were an advertiser here on mudrunguide.com. If they suck, they suck. We DO NOT cater to anyone for ad dollars no matter who they are, especially when they erect unsafe crap and try to pass it off as a legitimate race.