I had the opportunity this summer to take my daughter with me to various races and experience how a few different companies execute their kid's races. This article is going to discuss a few of those races. I live in the Northeast so the races that I have chosen are Bonefrog Challenge
, Terrain Race
, and Savage Race
. The way they fell this summer it meant that we are running these races back-to-back weekends. Age requirements for these series are three for Bonefrog, and two for Terrain Race. Savage Race does not have an official minimum age. When asked the owners replied back that whatever age parents felt was appropriate since we know our children best.
To give you a little backstory, I've run OCR for 2 years but this is my daughter's first year. Our backstory is important to share because of some of the unique challenges we face and how that sway my opinion on some things with the following races. My daughter Violet has special needs. She is nonverbal as well as Autistic. Physically though she is developmentally aged appropriately which is why I wanted to let her get out and try OCR.
Our first race was Bonefrog Challenge in New Jersey on June 16th. The weather was great in the mid 80's and sunny. Check in was quick and simple. We waited in the regular line and one scan and one for both of us. The format they had for children at this event was 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. open running. There were no set start times so you didn't have to wait around to run and you could run a lap, turn around and go again.
My daughter did 2 laps of the full course and then straight beelined for the cargo net. That was her favorite obstacle of the day. The volunteer was wonderful and very helpful explaining how to do some of the Bonefrog specific obstacles. They had a smaller version of Rolling Thunder, which is tires over a round log that spin when you jump over them. They also had two different walls, balance beams, and a barbwire style crawl. My only complaint is that it was so low that I couldn't demonstrate to my daughter what she was supposed to do. As it was her first race she didn't quite understand it.
Included with entry to Bonefrog is a finisher's medal. There was no professional photographer as part of he kids course so make sure to take plenty of pictures yourself. I did end up buying her a shirt from the concessions that was $18 since there was not a finishers shirt with this brand for the kids.
I loved the location of this event. The reasons I loved it so much was there was a small town 10 minutes away. As a parent we sometimes forget things. Having a town with a grocery store, fast food, and everything you could need so close was wonderful. Parking was on site with almost no walk to your car from the festival area. There was only one food vendor though which was slightly frustrating but thankfully I had packed food knowing my daughter's issues with food and again the stores so close made this a non major issue.
The following weekend we participated in Savage Race Pennsylvania. This race day was a bit gloomy, overcast and rainy. The festival area though was energetic like normal they had the music and the different booths that are at most races. Check-in went quick but was a bit confusing. Spectators and the kid's race were separate lines, but we had to wait in both to check in. The kids races at Savage are a set time. Saturdays are at 11:00 AM and 1:30 PM. If there is a Sundays Blitz they also have Savage Jr. at 11:00 AM.
The obstacles here were a good mix. There were a few different walls to go over and through. Staples like a cargo net, balance beam, and a bungee cord crawl. I noticed that their obstacles do vary location to location. Pennsylvania is held at a paintball course so there is a lot of tunnel crawls because these objects are already on location. In my case, this is a negative as my daughter is afraid of the black tunnels and will not crawl through them. There was also one big mud bog which my daughter got stuck in. I thought it was cute, her not so much. Savage, however, had her favorite obstacle of all the races. There is a foam and bubble slip and slide. Once she got over the loud noise the bubble maker made she wanted to go back on it again.
The children Savage Jr. participants get a shirt, bib, and a full-size adult metal from Savage Race. I saw 2 different shirt piles at the kids finish line so I believe they had 2 sizes for the children to pick from. There also was not a professional photographer on the Savage Race Course which was definitely a negative again.
Savage Race was the closest location for me at just over an hours drive, but I am not the biggest fan of this location. While these issues are mostly my own the closest town with a big store is about 25 minutes away. My mother took my daughter there to kill time while I ran. The festival area does have things to do and other parents I spoke to say their children have no problem hanging around while they run but knowing my child this was not an option. Parking was on site with a short walk. They also offer VIP parking right at the entrance. I did not really pay attention to food that day since my mother took my daughter to eat so I can not give much information on what was available.
The final race of our three was Terrain Race in New York on June 3oth. The forecast was hot with a high in the upper 90's and humid. Check-in for this race was also very easy. Sign a waiver at one table and a quick scan of the code on your phone and you are good to go. The kid's races are a set time of 10:05 and 11:05 and you pick a time when you register them up for the Mini Monkey.
I was a bit sad at the starting line as adults typical start in the pools but the kids did not. It was a bummer but the kids did not know any different. The children started on the same course as the adults. They ran to the first adult obstacle, a 4-foot wall, then the kids went off onto their own course. In my opinion, they had some of the best obstacles for the kids course. They had them start with a hose with a mud pit, then they went on to a balance beam, cargo net, sandbag carry, tire pull, a few more and then they finished up with monkey bars just like the adults. The kids also got to run across the adult finish line and get a medal from the volunteers which I thought was very cute.
Included in the Mini Monkey run was a bib, finisher shirt, and the same medal as the adults. They only had one size of shirts for the kids. It seems normal though for there to not be any photographers on the kids courses as this one did not have a photographer either. There was one at the finish line though who stopped me to take a picture of her with her medal after she crossed the line. However, feedback from racers has let me know that pictures from this brand can take weeks at times so don't expect them quickly.
I do not know much about this location as the closest I have been to the area is Tuxedo, NY for Spartan. There were a few gas stations within a 10 minute drive if we needed something in case of an emergency. The ski lodge was open which is where my significant other chose to hang out with our daughter while I ran. Terrain Race had the most concessions of the races we ran with a food stand with hamburgers, french fries, and basic fast foods. They also took credit for the food which was a welcome surprise. While I ran he said that he heard no complaints about the food from those around him. He did buy a Gatorade which was $2.75. While not cheap is about the same as a quick stop at a gas station. This area was also “air conditioned” and I say that lightly. With the doors open and it being almost 100 outside it was not cold in the building but much nicer then outside in the sun.
Price wise all of the brands are similar. Bonefrog is $20 and Savage Jr is $35 in advance or $45 on race day. Terrain race is $20 online and goes up to $35. Besides the lack of a shirt at Bonefrog, the swag is similar. My daughter loved the Terrain Race medal the most because it is a monkey. Bonefrog's frog medal was a close second. One perk of buying a shirt at Bonefrog was more sizes for the kid's shirts and 3 different colors unlike the standard finishing shirts at the other two.
All of these brands do a good job at putting together a fun and enjoyable kids course. I did not hear any complaint about the way things were run. I did hear some parents at Bonefrog and Savage with older children say they wish the courses were harder or longer. When I asked ages they were parents of children between eight to twelve. While my daughter is younger I can see and agree with what they were saying. These courses were 1/4 – 1/2 mile and the obstacles were pretty simple. Terrain race allows children as young as 8 to join parents on the adult course. This I feel gives them better availability to adjust the obstacles to the smaller age bracket.
While my daughter loved the multi-lap option that Bonefrog offered the structure of Savage and Terrain made logistics of planning parents laps easier to coordinate. My thoughts on locations will obviously vary from state to state as well. The quality and quantity of food at Terrain was a major plus for us. In the end, I would recommend any of these races for children to go to and have a great time and experience.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and official policies of Mud Run Guide LLC, or their staff. The comments posted on this Website are solely the opinions of the posters.