Virtual Events (Yes, you actually have to run/walk/crawl/ruck)

 

Virtual events are a hot new trend in the racing world. I wholeheartedly support it and look forward to its continued growth.

So, what is this whole concept?

You sign up (shockingly, online) and are e-mailed or mailed a bib and whatever other goodies the race offers. (Some send the medals ahead of time, others only when you report your time).

You are given a start and end date to run your chosen distance. You then run it however you want during that time. Most of the longer races let you decide of you want to break up the race or not. The shorter races (5ks) typically say all mileage in one shot.

Again, I wholeheartedly support them for several reasons: It’s a fun event to get people out there working the pavement (or the treadmill, trail, etc). It’s also great for people who are frankly nervous about running/walking in an in-person race. You compete with who you want, even if it’s only yourself and I think that can really help people who don’t have the racing bug to find it.

I personally run them for several reasons: 1) motivation…. it gets my butt off the couch! 2) raise money for a cause 3) FLEXIBLE fun. My schedule is nutty so participating in a virtual race gives me some flexibility.

I’ve heard people gripe that it’s bad that it’s on the honor system, etc. but if you cheat, you’re really only cheating yourself. If you’re the guy whose buying medals instead of earning them (seriously?!?), you’re the one who has to live with that.

My one piece of advice is to look for the races that require some form of reporting-portals, mapmyrun, photos, etc. I think those types add a level of accountability and motivation.

Feel free to ask me any questions and I’d love to hear your impressions of the concept.

 

Mud Ninja Review

On July 27, 2013, I participated in the Mud Ninja Extreme Challenge at The J.L. Parker Farm in South Salem, OH. I was challenged to attempt this course by Kevin Jones of the Crazy Mudder Muckers. In short, freaking awesome experience.  DO THIS RACE!!!

Race day proved to be a damp one. I arrived on site about an hour before my heat time.

I easily located the volunteer check in tent where I as handed a shirt and bandanna and sent on my way.  The bandanna was used instead of race bib so volunteers could run whenever they wanted.  My crew (The CornFed Spartans and Crazy Mudder Muckers) were at their tents in the team section.  (Yeah! I love the team tent section).

We headed to the starting gate as a group and after a little pumping up by the MC, we were sent on our way.  Over the next few hours I experienced some of the most challenging obstacles, insane terrain, and best showing of camaraderie and friendship that I’ve seen at a race.  It was a GREAT race and I will be back next year.

Here’s why:

Cardio Fitness Required:  Yes.  YES.  Yes.  Even if you walked the course, you better not be a couch to Mud Ninja participant or things will hurt.

Brute strength required: You needed some good old fashioned brute strength on this one.  You needed this strength for yourself and your teammates.  Many of the obstacles were simply impossible without the help of a team mate (or five).

Technical skill required:  There were some great technical obstacles.  Balancing, climbing, and rope work were all incorporated nicely.

Mud Factor:  Holy Cow MUDDY!!!!! There was a point where I was peeling layers of just starting to dry mud off of myself.

Course Officials:  At most obstacles there were great course officials and they were super helpful and friendly.  There were a few areas of the course (top of the widow maker!) that an official would have helped with safety.

Actual Course: The terrain was wonderful.  Rocky, muddy, up and down hills and a beautiful view.   There was nice spacing between most of the obstacles.  The single most difficult obstacle I’ve ever completed was on this course – the widow maker. I know this sounds like a “the fish was THIS big” story, but this hill was nuts.  Straight up with ropes only at the very top.  In fact, half way through day one they shut this path down due to some extreme pain and no gain.

Parking: Parking was $10 but free for volunteers. Parking was quick and easy.

Take Homes:  I signed up online forever ago and as I typically do, I took the volunteer route and it only cost me ten dollars (yes, I like seeing how the sausage is made) so my take homes were a bandanna and a t-shirt.  I saw that fully paid participants got a beer and a T.  The finishers medals are EPIC.  Big, Heavy, Ninja Stars.  So full of awesome.

Food/Beverage: Lots of water stations on the course (I think 4 for a 5K, which is pretty good).  I saw lots of food trucks and people selling candy, but I did not partake.  There did not seem to be “recovery” snacks anywhere.

Photos:  I can’t wait to see these photos.  They are going to be so fun!

Summary:  An amazing and fun race.  I am biased because I got to run it with an amazing group of people, but this was truly a wonderfully run and organized event.  As I said before – DO THIS RACE!!!

***Editor’s note – I plan on updating this entry when the photos come in.  The muddy, muddy photos.

ColorBlaze Lima, Ohio Review

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On June 1st, 2013 in Lima, Ohio, I ran the ColorBlaze 5K. It took place at the Allen County Fairgrounds. Overall, a fun but unchallenging race. I am glad I did it, but won’t do this one again.

Registration: I decided to run this at 7pm on the Friday (the day) before the race. Registration was through Active.com and I was able to register in plenty of time for the ‘discount’ rate of $35. There was also day of registration for $45.00.

Parking: PLENTY of parking with not much of a walk to the main area. They had guides during incoming but none during outgoing which made a MESS! It was a horrible situation trying to leave. It took about 30 minutes to get out of the log.

Check In: The race was scheduled to start at 11 and they said to get there at 8 to pick up your packet or register. They were NOT kidding. I got there at 930 and got checked in with no problem. Those that waited until the last minute had a bad day. The line was really, really long. No ID was needed (which always makes me a little wary in active.com events….everyone can see who registers if you take the public option). You signed a waiver, got your bag o’ stuff and you were good to go.

They had a zumba class going on before the race, which was  a hoot!

Stuff: 100% cotton t-shirt with the company’s logo, race bib (still don’t get this one – they didn’t have professional photographers and it wasn’t timed) one bag of color powder, coupons, and small samples of drug store type items.

Bag Check: None. This wasn’t important at this race because 1) you didn’t get all nasty to the point you needed to change and 2) the car was a hop, skip and a jump away.

Restrooms: Plenty of access to the fairground facilities (no port-a-potties) but they had no paper towels, the hand driers were either broken or shut off, and they were out of TP by the end of my heat (I was about the fourth heat of about 10).

Actual Race: It was a flat track race with a brief run on a slightly muddy (due to recent rain) track. It was NOT a 5k. My GPS clocked it at about 2.5 miles and facebook posts of others confirmed that. I don’t know why, but this annoyed me beyond all belief. I wanted my 3.1 miles and I felt cheated. I also thought it was doing a BIG disservice to beginning runners. They now have a skewed sense of the 5K.  Also, the end of the race was a hot mess.  It just sort of stopped….I wandered around for a while, confused because I didn’t see a finish line and my GPS hadn’t hit 3 miles.  I heard rumors that there was a water and snack station with fruit, but it was no where near the finish.

The fun factor was high though.  There were three color stations on the course and people running around spraying you with color.  That was really cool.  There was one water station on the course.

Photographs: No company was there taking pictures.  It was a have your family take pictures type situation.

Fitness Requirements: Flat track, no obstacles, and decent weather all meant that you needed cardio fitness (I will note that at least 75% of the people there were walking the whole thing) and zero non-running muscle strength.  This was about as beginner as you can get.

Bottom Line:  I am glad I did it.  It was a fun experience. But, it was way to beginner for me, WAY to unorganized for me and I probably won’t be doing another ColorBlaze.