Maybe you've been trying to get your friends and family members to do an obstacle race with you, but they're intimated by the long distance, the challenging obstacles that require upper-body strength, the burpees, the price, or the competitiveness. Maybe you see these races as a potentially fun weekend activity for your kids, but you'd prefer to be able to run with them and make it an experience the whole family can enjoy together. This is where Your First Mud Run comes in. It's affordable, the race is between 1.5 and 2 miles, it's not timed, there are no penalties for failed obstacles, and children and adults can run together. Need I say more?
I reached out to the owner and director of Your First Mud Run, Brad Vaccaro, to get some information about these family-friendly events, which are the perfect introductory races for OCR skeptics.
Congratulations on Your First Mud Run's 10th year! So, what made you decide to create your own brand/event?
Brad: Our company was started when [I] came to realize that there was nothing in the Mud Run/OCR industry for first-timers and families, so [I] created the only mud run in the world designed for everyone ages 5 and up! We have since hosted over 50 events in 6 states since 2011 and have led the way in getting kids and first-time adults into the great sport of obstacle course racing. We are the first and only mud run in the world to have kids and parents run the exact same course side-by-side. We are the perfect difficulty level for everyone!
Have you seen a greater turnout each year since your first event?
Brad: Yes, we started with 1 event in 2011 with 113 people registered, last year we had 7 events with 2,300 people registered (350 people average,) and expected to have 7 events this year with 2,800 people (400 average.) With the virus, we will likely have 4 events, and hope to exceed 1,800 (450 average.) We are also likely to bring on investors by the end of this season and start massive expansion with hopes to have 2 events per state within 5 years.
It seems like this is the perfect event for families and kids, especially beginners who may be intimated by the longer-distance events. Have you ever considered doing a more competitive heat or offering a longer distance?
Brad: Yes, and it didn't work. We would have to change everything, as every obstacle we have, while very professionally and well built, is smaller scale. For example, we have one of the best made cargo nets in the business, but it's only 8 feet high so it doesn't intimidate anyone (and every race 2 – 3 kids and sometimes parents need to be rescued at the top.) We have a rope climb that's only 8 feet and 12 feet high. What we did change for this year is we added a kids competitive wave at select events. We are also likely to do the “State Indoor OCR Championships.” It's an idea we have floated around for a couple of years, as we have access to a large indoor turf facility, and we would add things like kettle bell swings, and maybe even rowers where they would be on the course for something like 10 minutes, but be competing for medals and trophies.
Which states do you currently hold your events?
Brad: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
Obviously, a lot of race companies have had to postpone/cancel some of their early-season events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Were any of your events affected?
Brad: Not yet…our first event is May 31, and we are hoping to keep it or push it back 2-3 weeks, but we will have to see. It looks like we will likely consolidate the first three events into one.
What makes you unique from other race events that are also known to be good for first-timers?
Brad: We are small and local, so we can be set up in 3.5 hours the morning of the event, and broken down in 2 hours after and you would never even know we were there later that same day. So we can host an event virtually anywhere and usually partner with local non-profits and or schools and raise money for them and endless other groups as we have no limit to how many teams, groups or organizations can use our event as a fundraising platform. Because off this, we have raised over $30,000 for over 100 different, mostly small and local charities.
What would you say are the most fun/popular obstacles?
Brad: The double inflatable wall, cargo net, and rope climb. We also have a brand new one for 2020…
Anything else you'd like us to know?
Brad: Everyone knows we are great for kids and families, but we are also BY FAR the best beginners event in the USA (even though we never win on the MRG awards.) We are perfect for the person that always wanted to try mud runs/OCR but was intimidated and didn't want to get in over their heads, and we are the best for experienced OCR competitors to get their friends who are scared to do the same races that they do, to finally get involved in this great sport.
The next Your First Mud Run event is tentatively scheduled for May 31 in Bethlehem, PA. The price for their events ranges from $35 (if you sign up early and aren't interested in a t-shirt and medal,) and $60 (if you sign up the day of the event and do want the t-shirt and medal.) Parking, insurance, and bag check are all included in the price. They now offer competitive waves for kids, and the option to run unlimited laps if you're looking to cover more distance. Oh, and when you check-in at the race, be sure to say hello to the Your First Mud Run mascot, the adorable Yorkie named Nullah.
Keep Your First Mud Run in mind, and use this information as a reference next time you try to talk your friends and family into doing an obstacle course race with you. They'll have no excuse this time. Use code MRG20 for $5 off your registration! For more information, check out www.yourfirstmudrun.com