Spartan Race – Boston, aka Barre Mass

Barre-EntrySummertime in New England is a beautiful thing. One day you can have the perfect 70-degree day, and the next you can have blazing hot magma a slight change in humidity and increase in temperature. I ventured back to Barre, Mass for the Spartan Race Boston Super on an early August morning. Having been here once before for the Spartan Sprint, I was looking forward to the tasty burgers that the farm stand has for sale after the race.

Parking was the usual at the farm. You have to drive off site where they hitch you up to a horse and buggy and you chariot race into the venue. Note, this is otherwise known as riding a school bus from the parking lot to the venue. The drop off and pick up locations for your parking lot chariot is a smooth transition. You are dropped off right next to the farm stand and you can find adequate transportation back as soon as you are ready to leave. The venue has strategically made sure that you see and smell the food being cooked in the farm stand so when you have finished running your lap(s) you smell the deliciousness on your way out. Well played Carter and Stevens Farm, well played.

I’ve noticed that this venue does a few things well that stand out in my mind separate from the dozens of other races I’ve participated in. A few of those things are:

  • Well placed porta johns/janes. Close to the start line and plenty of them.
  • Great festival area.
  • Medical tents are placed near the kid’s race start line. I think this is smart, and I’ve seen other race venues plan this out this way, but the kids tend to get more boo-boos than the adults… sometimes.
  • GREAT food vendors.

Barre-Rope-ClimbThe course took you through a lot of wooded areas, plenty of open fields and the same swamp that Atreyu lost his horse Artax in the NeverEnding Story. The swampy areas were insanely impressive. I heard many remarks along the lines, “I’m ready to be done.” “How are we STILL in the swamp?” “Okay.. more swamp, yes I can do this.” “I CAN’T DO THIS!!” I personally gave up running and called it good walking through the swamp. At first, I tried staying off to the sides bobbing and weaving on the high ground to keep from potentially losing a shoe in the suck. By the end, I was just walking in a straight line and I eventually made it out alive.

The course was set up well for the longer distance. Several of the harder obstacles were placed toward the first half like the Rope Climb, Multi-Rig and Herc Hoist. I’ve noticed Spartan has changed up their rope climb recently from years prior. They used to make you wade into a pool of muddy water and climb out soaking wet for the rope climb. Now, they place a bunch of soft hay down and let you climb up without getting wet first. I thought this would make the obstacle easier, but I was wrong. There were just as many people burpee’ing out of the rope climb as there was when it was over water.


The Multi-Rig that Spartan has come up with is…interesting.  The first part was several plastic rings that didn’t have enough rope at the top to get a proper swing. If you could make it across those rings you would have to grab a hold of two baseballs before grabbing the long metal bar to the bell. I love rings. LOVE love LOVE them, but these were almost impossible for my little wingspan. I made it to the last swing on the rings. Because my wingspan isn’t very wide, I couldn’t get the momentum up to swing far enough to grab the last ring. Thus, I slipped and went to the side to do my burpee penalty.


Depending on who you are and your athletic abilities, this could have been a very challenging course. The layout was different than the Sprint earlier in the year so it didn’t feel like Spartan Sprint 2.0. It was hot and muggy so I kept an eye out for the water stations,. None of them ran out of water (thank Heavens) and one even offered a Gu Gummy for the runners. At the end of the course, all I could think about was the burger I was about to eat for lunch. We grabbed a burger from the farm stand and cooled off with some brews from the…well brewery. When you can have the full experience of running a great race, post-race entertainment and food, with ease of getting to and from the venue, it makes for coming back to race at the Carter and Steven’s Farm a pleasure.

I’ll see you in September Spartan Race.

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Tough Mudder New England: Skiing in June

I had been avoiding drinking the Tough Mudder Kool-Aid for quite some time now. In 2014, I volunteered at one of their events in Tennessee. It was hot, it was muggy, but a lot of fun. Tough Mudder has a great volunteer organization so if you want to check out a race before you run one I highly suggest getting out there and cheering the Mudder Nation on.

That being said, Tough Mudder isn’t known for having difficult obstacles. Being a lone racer for most of my career I avoided the high registration cost and Electro-Shock Therapy like the plague. My partner in crime, Dave and I made the trek out to Vermont one early morning to try out our first Tough Mudder together. We both had fairly low expectation of the event, but this isn’t due to the marketing of the organization. We’ve seen other big race companies hype their races prior to the event, and we’d find lackluster results on race day.


Tough Mudder didn’t disappoint, however. The location at Mt. Snow in Vermont gave us an extra obstacle with the terrain and the 4,000 ft elevation gain and 10+ miles of black diamond trails. The race starts you out in a ‘hype’ corral with Coach pumping you up. After you start, it’s up and over a wall to find… Another starting corral? This was different. You didn’t actually start the race yet. The second starting line was MC’d by an Aussie, I believe his name was Kangaroo, but isn’t everyone from Down Under called that? No? He started each heat by singing the National Anthem. Very cool Kangaroo, I like you.

The race was incredibly hilly but then again we were on a ski slope. Tough Mudder has done a great job in the last couple of years coming up with new and innovative obstacles. There were several that I’ve never seen before on any course, and you can tell that they are marketing their race to be the team building exercise rather than an individual competition. Heck, even Coach tells you in the Warm Up Corral that this isn’t a race. When you look around at the participants you can tell that this race is different than any other OCR out there. Many of them are wearing their headbands from previous races, and a lot of people are out there with many of their friends.

This race was FUN. From the first obstacle to the last I would say that Tough Mudder has done a great job at providing their Nation with an experience that they want to come back to time and time again. Hydration stations were placed about every mile and a half. Each station had water plus an Amino blend. A couple of them had protein bars and bananas and for a 10-mile race this was a welcome site. This brand isn’t marketed towards the elite racer, and you can see that they take care of the average Joe’s that have decided to get up off the couch and try out this crazy industry for the first time. Many obstacles had bottleneck issues, but this isn’t exactly a bad thing for the brand. They had THOUSANDS of participants each day.


Highlights of the race included the Block Ness Monster, Backstabber, and Pyramid Scheme. Both Block Ness and Pyramid Scheme require you to use the help of your fellow Mudders. For a moment in time you create a relationship with another human being, and you help each other out on the course. Several obstacles were individual, but there was never a lack of a crowd cheering you on as you completed it. My favorite one to watch was King of Swingers. For me, it was a whole lot of NOPE and I walked around it. I’m a great swimmer, but I personally hate the feeling of falling. If a T-Rex is chasing me down the mountain and my only option is to jump- I would. But in my everyday life I believe it’s better than I don’t jump off high objects unless my life is on the line. This obstacle had about 500 people ooooing and awwing over each person who attempted to reach the bell. Some people were actually really good at it. I saw flips off the swing, kicking the bell as they went down.


If you are looking for a great experience and you want to try an obstacle course for the first time, consider Tough Mudder. Yes, it’s a long course, but consider it 10, 1 mile runs or walks, based on your athletic ability. I saw many people out there walking the whole course and it isn’t a timed event. Take your time and enjoy whatever view is in front of you. You can skip any obstacle you aren’t comfortable with, but I highly suggest you try each one.


We pushed ourselves and finished right at 3 hrs. Most Mudders finish in 4.5-6 hours so plan on spending the whole day enjoying the scenery. Mt. Snow was a wonderful host. They had multiple food vendors, warm showers (for a charge) and cold showers (FREE!) to rinse off at, great DJ, awesome shuttle service, and a breeze checking in and out. I am excited for the next event in New Hampshire later this racing season. Kool-Aid drank and I’ll wear my headband at my next race.

Spartan Race – Barre, Mass Sprint: Spring 2016



New England racing is quite different from racing in the South. I had unintentionally taken a year off from racing after moving from Atlanta to New Hampshire last fall and I was eager to test out my legs on the trails. The Spartan Race Sprint in Barre, Mass would be my reentry into the OCR world. I was excited to see what kind of mud New England was serving up and to feel what was different about this race.

Saturday had the perfect weather for a race day. It was in the high-70s in the morning and in the mid-80s by the early afternoon.  Spartan isn’t known for being innovative and changing up their obstacles very often. They’ll mix up the order, take away water, add water, etc. I’ve run a lot of other races that are a little more creative when it comes to obstacles, but overall I give Spartan an A for this course because they appeared to be intentional with their placement of the obstacles.

The course length was debated, but everyone agrees it was at least 5.6 miles in length. From what I hear, this is an immense improvement on the past year. Having not run the race myself, I listened to the murmurs around the Biggest Team Tent (woo NE Spahtens!) and the consensus was in favor of this year’s course. It was a long Sprint with a lot of running in the beginning. The first “obstacle” was a couple bales of hay to jump over. The worst part of the hay bales was the allergic reactions many people got afterwards and the medical tent saw a lot of people very itchy on Saturday. The first few miles of the race was just running, running and some more running with an obstacle thrown in here and there. Despite that, the terrain was tricky. There were pastures and woods to run through. The pastures had a decent amount of holes in the ground from the cattle walking and the woods were fantastically riddled with roots and rocks to hop over. I typically run an 8 ½ minute mile on the road, and this course at 5.6 miles took me 1:52 to complete. With my mile hovering around the 20-minute mark, and with only two failed obstacles and burpees, this is a significant difference from my normal pace. There were a lot of people walking the trails and whomever was their first-grade teacher taught them well to walk in single file! There was quite a lot of “on your left” as I dodged tree stumps and branches.

Now I won’t bore you with specifics about the obstacles. This was a well-planned route, but there isn’t anything special to highlight. Check out other Spartan Race reviews for info on the obstacles. I do want to highlight the good things I saw on this course. The cargo net was the tightest I’ve ever been on. Besides the guy falling off right after I dismounted the other side, I’d say it was one of the best. Multiple water stations that were well manned with cheerful volunteers. The course was marked extremely well. If you got off course it was your own fault. One of the most impressive parts of the race was the swag bag at the end. I got my medal, then my bag, and then proceeded to fill said little bag with ProYo (frozen protein yogurt) Fitaid, Clif Bars, and the normal banana and water routine. The little bag was big enough for my sports bra, shorts, socks and calf sleeves to fit into after I peeled them from my body. If you run in more gear than that, you’ll need a bigger bag.


The festival area was well planned. The Biggest Team Tent was right in the middle of all the food vendors. Spartan did an excellent job at keeping the tent clear of full trash cans, and there was a jug of water with an endless supply inside. If you are racing alone or with one or two other people, join the biggest team! I haven’t met any yet that turn people away. The Farm where the event is held, has their own store with ice cream and burgers. The burgers are some of the tastiest I’ve ever had! I don’t eat a lot of ice cream, but we did sample two flavors after our volunteering shift.

There was no onsite parking. You had to park several miles away, but this wasn’t a huge problem. There were plenty of shuttle buses making the rounds all day. The biggest pain is having to bring everything you need for the day in with you. The Farm did allow coolers though and this is a nice change from other venues. Families with kids were able to pack their lunches, and I saw plenty of people just enjoying the festival area on Saturday. I wasn’t thrilled about running three races this season at the Farm before the Sprint, but now I am actually excited to come back here. The family that owns the farm was out there on the course with their kids. They embraced the runners, and you could see one of the owners running around on a four wheeler all day with his black lab running alongside. At the end of Saturday, I was excited to come back on Sunday to volunteer.

Sunday was a wash…literally. It rained all day long. The course was muddy, the obstacles slick, and the paces slow. This is what makes for a great running weekend. One day it can be perfect, and the next the weather becomes an additional obstacle. I volunteered at the tiny human course for the day. The volunteer staff is always so friendly to talk to. If you aren’t sure you are ready to run a race I highly recommend volunteering at one to see if this is something you’d be into. My first experience with Spartan was a volunteer shift in Conyers GA a couple years ago. I had broken my leg a week prior to the race playing flag football, and I still went out and had a blast. Note: I didn’t know it was broken yet.


The tiny humans course is so much fun. You get to watch these kids go beast mode on the course. Some of them are able to conquer fears and they learn to let go of the “I can’t”. Early in the day, we were stationed at the OUT obstacle and the last half of the day the sandbag carry. I saw a lot of kids come through the sandbag carry that would give up before they even tried. I might be a big meany-head to them because I didn’t let a single child quit this obstacle. Everyone was able to dig deep and carry, drag, and kick the sandbag back to me. Some ran with siblings and friends. When one couldn’t quite carry the weight on their own I saw kids run back to help their friends. This is what Spartan is about to me. It’s building confidence in doing something you didn’t know you could do. It’s recognizing that a buddy needs help and you are there to support them. It’s overcoming the little voice in your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough. I saw every child complete this obstacle, and most of them thought they weren’t strong enough. Obstacle courses can teach you that you are good enough, that you are strong enough. If you are out there doubting yourself- look for a volunteer. I would bet a lot of money that they’ve done what you are going through and they know how to help you get to the other side. Oh, and don’t forget to thank the volunteers. Some of them run on Saturday, go through the Hurricane Heat after their race, get very little sleep and then come back on Sunday to make sure that their fellow racers have the support they need. I know a few people who did this, and they are the rays of sunshine when you are covered head to toe in mud.


After my shift ended, I snagged a delicious burger from the Farmstand and went back to the car with a heart full of joy from a weekend well spent at the Carter and Stevens Farm.

Course- A
Venue- A+
Location- B-
Vendors- A
Parking- B-

BattleFrog- Central Florida 2015

Fresh off their first race of the season in Miami, BattleFrog rang in their second race in Central Florida on March 15th. The location was a flat field, surrounded by prairie and ranch land with the sounds of cows and other livestock resonating in the distance. The setting was quite picturesque for a race venue. As the sun struggled to come up over the horizon, the runners lined up to check in and register starting at 6:00 a.m. The only problem… the registration system wasn’t allowing anybody to register and the volunteers couldn’t check people in. This created a domino effect. All elite males needed to get checked in first, and I honestly can’t tell you if I heard the announcer call for them to line up. All I remember is looking up and seeing a rush of men fly by. Eventually they did iron out the issues with the registration, but it wasn’t a good start to the day. I barely had fifteen minutes to warm up after my own registration (shame on me for waiting till day of to register) before my heat was in the corral and ready to go.

wreck bag two

Just like Miami, Coach sent us off into the swamplands…err Florida flatlands and a very soggy first 5k. During the first part of the course you were constantly wet. Wetlands crossing, creeks crossing, wade into a lake and not get eaten by a gator crossing. The Jerry Can carry was through several spots of wetland that went deeper than my waist.

rope climb

The entire course was gorgeous though. I though several times that I wished I was in better running shape because the landscape was super flat. I know that Florida isn’t known for its hills, but having both the Miami course and Central Florida course back to back as flat courses was a bit disappointing. I did make the most of the scenery and enjoyed the views as the sun came up over the horizon. The terrain was much more forgiving than the track in Miami. The ground was softer and it helped that it was pasture that had been freshly fertilized by the resident cows.

deck ladder

Takeaways from the course:
1. Water crossings should not be considered obstacles. We’ve all played in puddles, they are not difficult. They do slow you down a little, but it’s minimal.
2. Jerry Cans float in water….crossings.
3. Short girls CAN conquer eight foot walls without someone pushing them over.
4. Rope climbs aren’t easy. Rope climbs out of four feet of water requires creativity to elevate yourself out of the water and THEN climb.
5. Another water crossing. Only this one was deep, so don’t open your mouth unless you want giardia.
6. Elites didn’t get to do the Amphibious Assault (a.k.a the paintball shooting)…what…the…heck!?
7. Caving ladders are hard, but not impossible. Work on that upper body.
8. Great use of the Wreck Bag. A half a mile carries through an orange orchard. If you aren’t concerned with your time you could have stopped and enjoyed one.
9. Who was on gator patrol?
10. O3 is a new obstacle. Climb a telephone pole hallway with rock climbing grips, and grab onto a traverse rope and slide down. Not terrifying at all. (I’m lying)
11. Monkey Bars were much easier this time. But an added obstacle was the fact that the water kept draining out of the pit. So…don’t fall.

monkey bars

Once one finished, you could enjoy that New Belgium brew. I’m a big fan of the adult beer choice. The showers were chilly, and the changing tents were far enough away that you were dry by the time you needed to change. I do have to say that whoever set up the women’s changing tent wasn’t thinking clearly. The flap to open it up was zip tied to the fence where spectators were watching people come over the Monkey Bars. Men could see clear into the changing tent, and a lot of spectators were distracted from their loved ones finishing the race. Next time boys and girls; let’s think about the modesty of the sport. I know there isn’t much with the compression gear, but not all women want their beginnings flashed to the world.

BattleFrog has done a fantastic job promoting and hopefully their races will continue to get bigger and bigger. They are forward thinkers in the OCR game, but they do need to come up with more challenging obstacles.

Side note:
ESPN was on site for the filming of the Colligate Challenge where 16 NCAA teams, made up of athletes, rec students, and regular people, competed for scholarship money. BF did a fantastic job setting up an American Ninja Warrior type course. I watched the students compete and thought that this is a fantastic opportunity for the OCR sport to showcase what they do and why so many people have fallen in love with it. Could this be a thing at future races? I really hope so as it brought an exciting new element to the festival area.

For some additional photos go here: Post by Obstacle Racing Media.

*Photos By: BattleFrog Race Series 

AmberAndersonAmber Anderson has the flare of the Wild Wild West running through her veins. She hails from the great state of Wyoming, but somehow landed in Nashville TN. She’s a snowboarder, backpacker, sometimes half marathon runner, and now OCR addict. 


BattleFrog Miami- 2015 Kick-Off!

While most of the country was knee deep in snow, BattleFrog Miami kicked off their race year at Amelia Earhart Park in the Hialeah section of Miami. Fresh off a successful first race season, BattleFrog came out swinging with new ideas. There is the new BattleFrog Xtreme course, Masters waive, and the Athena/Clydesdale division. They also have a BullFrog mile that is supposed to be for the ‘tween ages, however; adults were welcome to run also! The BullFrog mile is a great way to encourage those who are not quite ready for a 5K, but may be easily hooked by the introductory single mile race.


The course was built on a dirt track that bicyclers used for those ferocious South Florida hill climbs. I couldn’t help but feel like a bike while running up and down each and every jump on the course. The ground itself was extremely unforgiving and hard. I was shocked at how sore my ankles were the next day after running the 15K course.

Girls elite

The obstacles weren’t the most difficult I’ve ever attempted. Only several were challenging to the elite few that ran both days. The first I encountered that gave me fits was the Hump Over. If anyone ran the OCRWC, you’ll be familiar of the Sternum Checker. This obstacle conquered me at my 5’4” frame. I tried several times, but in the end I just couldn’t get my hump over the log. The technique that helped successfully complete the obstacle was being tall and strong. I’m neither, so there is that. Until next time Hump Over.

BattleFrog took advantage of the many water obstacles on the course and had several swims. The first was right off the bat, a 200-foot swim across a pond right after the start line. Just don’t think about the gators when you are swimming in ponds in Florida and you’ll be fine…right? The water was a favorite of many runners though, a nice reprieve from the heat and humidity that struck early in the day on Saturday. That same heat and humidity gave way to a monsoon that enveloped the festival area shortly before noon. Anyone left on the course during the downpour had to fight the winds and rain as an added obstacle.

Rope Traverse

A surprise to the runners familiar with the OCR world was how many big name racers showed up to compete. BattleFrog has a lot of prize money on the line this year, and that is going to attract the big names in the sport. Hunter McIntyre was seen walking around the festival area, although a non-competitor due to an injury. Rumor has it; he’s resting up for the Spartan Cruise race on March 7th. Isaiah Vidal snuck into the race without anyone knowing it and took 3rd male overall. The big winners of the day were Ryan Atkins and his fiancé Lindsay Webster. If you don’t know her name already you better take note. This girl is going to be winning a lot more races this season. I’m calling it now that Ryan and Lindsay are not only OCR’s fittest couple, but also the nicest people around.

BattleFrog Elites

It’s going to be very interesting to see the development of BattleFrog this year. The big names are drawn to the prize money, and the Xtreme course could draw in a lot of ultra-runners. The male winner of the day for the Xtreme course, Del LeViere, completed the 15k course PLUS six laps of the 5k course. The female winner, Adriane Alvord, competed the 15k PLUS four 5k laps. It’s exciting to see BattleFrog come up with fresh ideas to draw in those greatly needed numbers that they will have to come up with this year.

Xtreme Winners

*Photos By: BattleFrog Race Series

AmberAndersonAmber Anderson has the flare of the Wild Wild West running through her veins. She hails from the great state of Wyoming, but somehow landed in Nashville TN. She’s a snowboarder, backpacker, sometimes half marathon runner, and now OCR addict. 

BattleFrog Miami- “A Humbling Experience”

On November 15th, 1986 I came screaming into the world. Naturally, when I saw that the highly thought of new race series of the year BattleFrog was closing out its first ever race season in their hometown of Miami Florida on the 15th of November, I was sold. As a somewhat newbie to the obstacle-racing world I wasn’t quite prepared for what these Navy SEALs had planned for me. I’ve done longer races, and I’ve even heard that some were harder…but BattleFrog Miami kicked my booty in all the best ways.

The location of the race was on the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. The course was positioned along the beach, in the ocean, through the jungle and also the swamp. Rumor has it there were three, twelve-foot gators that lived on the island and as far as I know nobody met any of them personally, but I can tell you for a fact that the swamp SMELLED like something was rotting. I hear gators like that…


The elite racers all lined up at 8:00 am sharp, and race director Garfield Griffiths stood in front of 100+ racers with CoachPain Dewayne to send them off. Griffiths explained some ground rules first. One of them was that every elite racer had to complete every obstacle, except for one. This is a relatively new rule in the OCR world. Typically, in the past, racers were given burpees or similar penalties for not completing an obstacle. In this race, racers had unlimited chances to complete an obstacle, but if they felt that it was too much for them they had to surrender their elite wristband. Something brand new for this race was the ringing of the bell. In the Navy SEAL world, the ringing of the bell signifies drop on request (DOR). The tradition of DOR consists of dropping one’s helmet liner next to a pole with a brass ship’s bell attached and then they ring the bell three times. Once a racer felt they couldn’t complete an obstacle they had to ring the bell that was placed next to every obstacle three times after they surrendered their wristbands.

Bell Ring

“This isn’t meant to humiliate anyone,” explains Griffiths. “This is meant to humble them, for them to acknowledge that the obstacle beat them. It’s a respected tradition in the Seal world and I wanted to bring that aspect into the race as respect.”

I can say for a fact, that this race humbled me. Isn’t that a great metaphor for life though? When something is too tough, you admit it and you continue on. You don’t let it defeat you, and you prepare better for the next time. The race brought roughly 27 obstacles for the racers pain or pleasure in it’s just under four mile course.

IMG_0333 (2)

My favorite obstacles include:

1. Over/under in the ocean. You swam about 15 yards into eight feet of water and proceeded to pull yourself over a log and under the next. Repeat for about 10 logs. Leave the ocean with salt water smell in your nose, which smells like victory.
2. Monkey bars. These monkey bars had the standard bars and also the rock climbing grips for the elites. Non-elites could try them as well, but I’ll tell you that they are tough. For someone who has decent grip strength and okay upper body strength, these babies smoked me. I’m on the average scale in the height department so the almost three foot distance between grips was difficult and I rang the bell on this obstacle. The battle was lost to the grips, but I will win the war next time.
3. SEAL PT. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I loved it. Burpees normally suck. Burpees in the water are ridiculous.
4. Tip of the Spear. I’ve heard from many that this is their favorite and now I know why. It’s a challenging obstacle but I love the feeling of Tarzan swinging from one rope to another and then traversing via rock climbing grips.
5. Tsunami. It took me four tries to get up this wall. I was exhausted at the finish. On the fourth try my helper at the top hoisted my butt over and all I could do was lay there for a second and then to tell my helper that I loved him. I guess I move fast. While lying there I looked at the American flag waving above me, and I couldn’t help but feel so proud of this race series. They put everything they have into each race with their creativity and design.

monkey bars

Overall, BattleFrog has become one of my favorite series with this brief preview of what their 15k course looks like. If you are an experienced racer or not, this is a race you can’t miss. Start with the 5k and I promise you’ll be hooked.

*Photos By: BattleFrog Race Series and Amber Anderson

AmberAndersonAmber Anderson has the flare of the Wild Wild West running through her veins. She hails from the great state of Wyoming, but somehow landed in Nashville TN. She’s a snowboarder, backpacker, sometimes half marathon runner, and now OCR addict. This is her first review for ORM.