Muckfest MS was held on both Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10 at The Glen Mills Schools in Glen Mills and Thornbury Township Pennsylvania; we were there on Saturday. For those not familiar with the area, the venue is 30 miles outside Philadelphia and about an hour from my home in New Jersey. I raced with my twin sister Patti, my younger sister Chrissy and our friends Cara and Heather. We signed up both as a team and for the “Volunteer Fun & Run” package, where for $25.00 you volunteer for one shift and race afterward.
Pre-Race / Venue
MuckFest has similar amenities to other OCRs but notably, both spectators and bag check are free. There were also individual changing tents for post-race and there appeared to be enough hoses as we didn’t have to wait too long at the cold wash station. Two years ago it ran out of water; I didn’t experience any problems in that regard this year. While we didn’t hang around long after the race, there was a beer garden for the 21+ crowd and a variety of concessions. I saw many people enjoying funnel cake! Now about those porta-potties… We used them several times throughout the day and not only was there never a wait, they were incredibly clean. We were at a mud race people! I heard that the volunteers were maintaining them and while I’m not sure if that’s true, kudos to whoever was keeping them clean.
Our volunteer assignments began at 7:15 am so we arrived a little after 7:00 am. Parking was free but it took us several minutes to walk to the venue and there’s no shuttle provided so allow time for this. I noticed signs for VIP Parking not far from the registration tent but I believe this was reserved for the blue bandana-wearing “I Muck It With MS” racers, those who battle MS every day.
We spent a few minutes at volunteer check-in getting our shirts and receiving our assignments. When we registered we requested to work on the course and as a group of five we were placed at the “Big Balls” obstacle.
The first wave didn’t go off until 9:00 am so with some time to kill we decided to pick up our bibs and finisher shirts. If you volunteer I would recommend doing this to save time so that you’re not rushing to the start after your shift ends.
At Big Balls, it was our job, nay, RESPONSIBILITY, to attempt to knock you into the water. Personally, I think I was having more fun than the racers. We were on the course until just after the 12:15 pm wave came through. Then it was our turn to race!
Race Details / Obstacles
Everyone starts in the Muckin’ Corral where the emcee acknowledged the top fundraising teams of our 1:00 pm wave. It was hot; the sun had been out all morning and the temperature was definitely in the 80’s at our start time but fortunately, there was a slight breeze and clouds were starting to roll in. We were ready to go!
Having participated in MuckFest the past two years, I generally knew what to expect over the 5K course as the obstacles haven’t really changed. The race starts off with the Triple Pits (a rolling mud obstacle) and goes right into Big Balls. Mainstays include the Swing Set, the Mt. Muck-imanjaro A-frame rope net, The Spinner and Flying Muckers zip line. While these obstacles generate some of the best photo-ops, they unfortunately also create the longest lines. I suspect this can be attributed to a combination of things; the nerves of novice racers and the pace at which volunteers allowed us to access the obstacles. I also heard that they increased the number of waves this year from two per hour to three but I didn’t have to opportunity to confirm this. The race isn’t timed and there’s no pressure to finish quickly but we decided to skip Flying Muckers after seeing a line of at least 100 people.
MuckFest doesn’t offer a finisher’s medal but you receive a t-shirt along with the usual free beer/banana/protein bar; the local sponsor is RXBAR. Photos are posted online for free download a few days after the race. There are additional opportunities to earn swag through fundraising.
I enjoyed this race. As advertised, it’s a FUN mud run. My sisters and friends were all first-time Muckers and I think they’ll be back next year. The staffers were friendly and genuinely appreciative that we were there. As with many of these events, they needed more volunteers. If MuckFest comes to your city, I’d ask that you consider supporting them with a few hours of your time even if the race itself isn’t your jam.
Were you at MuckFest MS Philly? What are your thoughts about this race? Did one of my sisters take you down at Big Balls? (because I would never do that obviously) Let me know in the comments!
Full disclosure: I have a bit of a soft spot in my little Grinch heart for MuckFest MS. Perhaps it’s because this race was one of my first OCRs. Maybe it’s the impeccably clean porta-potties. I think the best part about this event is that it’s fun for everyone, from the first-timer to experienced racer while raising funds to support the important work of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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