Growing up in New England, nearly every kid dreamed of playing in legendary Fenway Park. The dream quickly faded when I realized that I simply wasn't very good at baseball. However, when Spartan Race brought their stadium series races here a couple years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to finally get down on the same field as my childhood heroes.
The third annual “Panic in the Dark” run was held recently in Lowell, MA. The “zombie” obstacle course race is produced by SmithFest Events, a local company known for its creative and original events. Recently named as one of the eight best Halloween races in the country by Runners World, Panic in the Dark far exceeded expectations last year and we were excited to see what awaited us in the darkened woods!
For the fifth consecutive year, the Reebok Spartan Race brought their 3+ mile event back to the New England area. The wildly popular race series spanned two days and was also being filmed by NBC for a future broadcast. After putting in a full day volunteering on Saturday, I was excited to return on Sunday to tackle the course that many were claiming was the toughest sprint distance race every held in the area.
The Dirty Dash racing series recently brought their 5k fun run to the New England area for the first time. Leading up to the event, a few other national races of similar ilk had fallen on tough times. The female only Dirty Girl race series, which held 50 events last year, cut that number in half for this year and recently cancelled a few upcoming races. The 5k Foam Fest that was affiliated with the same company as Dirty Dash also announced that they were closing its doors. This led to speculation on social media that the Dirty Dash race was in jeopardy. However, about a week before the scheduled event, we received an email with race logistics which quelled some of the fears.
The Samurai Sprint Mud Run recently held their inaugural event in New England. The local race boasts a combination of outdoor elements and challenging obstacles spread over a 5k course. In an attempt to appeal to runners of all abilities, they also offered a relay race option in which teams compete together in the running aspect of the race, while a few select team members tackle the more demanding obstacles. With the ever growing popularity of the sport, it is becoming more and more difficult for new races to establish a presence.
Urban RAID does a nice job handling the unique challenges that a city obstacle course race represents. The course was well organized and the obstacles, while not overly challenging, were solidly built and fun. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone looking for something a little different than the typical obstacle course race.
The Fitathlon Challenge recently brought their 5k fitness based race to Massachusetts. The event focuses on cardiovascular endurance and incorporates it in many of their obstacles. As a playful jab at the other OCR's, they promote their race as having "no mud, water, fire or electrocution - just sweat."
Spartan Race continues to innovate the world of obstacle course racing. Known for their Sprint, Super and Beast distance options, they recently unveiled their new "Olympic distance" of 1.5 miles in their preliminary steps to qualify as an Olympic sport in the future. The Spartan Race Invitational was recently held at the Reebok Headquarters in Canton, MA.