The Good, The Bad, and The Just Plain Nasty

GORUCK Nasty patch

A GORUCK Nasty 001 Review

GORUCK Nasty obstacle race

GORUCK, well known for their military-esque team based endurance challenges, stepped outside the box for their first stab at events in the obstacle course racing realm. While there were many unique and positive aspects to the GORUCK Nasty 001, the organization has some serious work to do if it wants to be successful in this market.


GORUCK Nasty climbing obstacle

The GORUCK Nasty had some really unique and exciting features that you will probably not find at another OCR event. The PX (post exchange) was a great on-site store to buy all GORUCK gear for a great price. Usually merch tables at events jack up prices, but GORUCK was offering 25% off all items! If they did not have the item you wanted on site, they gave you a code to order online by midnight that night and you could still get the sale price.

They also had a Scars station set up right inside the PX, for all repairs on GORUCK gear. As an aside, GORUCK offers lifetime guarantees for all items, you just pay to ship it out and back and Scars will fix it or replace the item. Having this remote set up right at the Nasty was really convenient for customers. If they could not fix it on site, they would pay to have it shipped out and back to the customer. A++ for Fantastic customer service all around!

Another great aspect to this event was the Memorial Mile. At the bottom of the mountain we had a brief chat about the sacrifices made by our military, and then were able to take a small flag, to honor a fallen military member, with us as we walked 1 mile back up the steep mountain—A small sacrifice in comparison to the sacrifice of giving your life for this country.

GORUCK Memorial Mile

Another great feature to this event was $1 beers. Pretty self-explanatory, but cheap beer is generally a plus. No alcohol was allowed on the course, which prevented any drunken shenanigans as best as possible during the event, but racers were rewarded with one free beer and $1 beers after that!

Lastly, the overall attitude of those around you at the Nasty was great. Despite 45-minute bottlenecks (which I will touch on later), racers were in great spirits, really encouraging everyone, and having a great time. This is generally pretty common for the GORUCK community. Because the GORUCK multi-hour endurance challenges are based so heavily in teamwork, most everyone brought that mentality to this event. There is some of that mentality at other OCR events, but nothing like you see in the GORUCK community because without that teamwork and camaraderie, the events would literally be impossible.

GORUCK Nasty barbed wire crawl


A few things GORUCK could improve upon would be the overall atmosphere of the event. While everyone was pleasant it was almost like a ghost town arriving on site. Very minimal signage, no exciting festival area, and a lack luster starting line. A side from 80’s ballads on a tiny speaker system at the start area and one Cadre basically making small talk before casually telling us to go, you would not even know this was an exciting OCR! I am used to the buzzing of spectators and racers through the festival area, the sounds and smells of food and beer, the pounding of the music on sound system and the MC getting us riled up and ready to race, both of which can be heard 2 miles out on the course.

GORUCK Nasty starting line

Another issue out on the course was poor course marking and invisible staff. There were several times on the course when I was not sure where to go because the course was not marked well, and it felt like long periods of time without any obstacles. Also, I had NO idea who worked there. The Cadre were almost invisible at obstacles, despite being the ones who were supposed to be loud, representing the event, and explaining the obstacles. The same could be said about the volunteers. Both the Cadre and the volunteers needed brighter shirts, or just needed to stand out more in case racers had questions.


While the previous issues were bad, they are easy fixes. Some of the issues surrounding the obstacles are things that I think will make or break GORUCK Nasty potential future events.

The first issue is the type of obstacle. They had many unique and fun obstacles, but unless you were military trained in confidence courses, you were not safe completing these obstacles. They had several obstacles that were 50 or 60 feet off the ground that just involved racers freely climbing on them, jumping from them, etc. While obstacle course racing involves risk, some of these obstacles seem suicidal to attempt. Additionally, some of the best obstacles required racers to be able to climb a rope. If they couldn’t they were unable to even attempt the rest of the obstacle. Obstacles were either too dangerous or too difficult. The only happy medium was monkey bars, walls, smaller cargo nets, and a barbed wire crawl. Also, the event boasted nearly 28 obstacles, but only about 15-20 were on the course. Overall, it seemed like GORUCK was having an identity crisis in regards to whom they were trying to market this inaugural event to. They made it seem like this event was fun and for everyone, but the obstacles were too intense for even some fit and elite racers.

GORUCK Nasty cargo net climb

The other issue was the massive bottlenecks at obstacles. There was at least a 5-10 minute wait at a majority of obstacles and 45-60 minute wait at the big, exciting obstacles (and I raced at 8:30am; I cannot imagine what it was like later in the day). This issue stemmed a lot from racers being able to jump heats whenever they wanted all day, and from racers being allowed to attempt the obstacle as many times as they wanted. While flexible race times and more than one attempt at obstacles has its benefits to racers, it also creates massive bottlenecks, which is frustrating and creates a lull in the excitement of the race. Especially when certain obstacles could take a fit person 3-5 minutes to complete. It made a quick 6 mile course take nearly 5 hours.

Overall, I think GORUCK really tried to create an event that was unique and exciting. The head Cadre and creators of the event claim they do not want to be the next Tough Mudder or Spartan Race, they just want to put on a fun, successful event that is different from their usual challenges. While this is a respectable goal and they definitely have a great start, they are going to need to do some serious overhaul on the organization and implementation of future GORUCK Nasty events in order to prevent from flopping like other start up OCRS, as well as to keep customers coming back and to attract new customers.

GORUCK Nasty patch

Latest posts by Katrina Webber (see all)

  1. Katrina, thanks for the review and for the props you give the GORUCK Community. I agree that the vibe was stellar because of the people who came. I think your article is fair, perhaps other than the safety concerns. Not only were our obstacles certified in the state of Virginia, but we built them to Army specs, which include more risk assessments over decades of use than anyone could read in a lifetime. Meaning, the US Army thinks they’re safe and so do we. What we owe now that we’ve done 001 is more training on how to do things, and you’ll get that in the coming weeks.

    At Nasty 002, you’ll see more of a lot of things. More Cadre to quicken the flow,more better and bigger signage, and more lanes to ease up the bottlenecks, especially on non-signature obstacles. The signature obstacles will move more quickly with more Cadre but some things are worth the wait – like your favorite roller coaster. You’ll also see even more of the GORUCK Community (which makes everything we do worth it) and more $1 Beers so we can donate more to charity.

    If you’ve followed the GORUCK Challenge at all, it’s a drastically different event from 001 to where it is now almost 1,000 classes later. While I don’t expect us to reach 1,000 GORUCK Nasty’s in this lifetime, I would expect our learning curve to follow that trajectory for the Confidence Course itself as well as the logistics. We’ve always believed in Under Promise Over Deliver, and Nasty will follow that logic as well. It will remain authentically true to our roots in Special Forces and we’ll do it even better all around.

    Thanks so much for coming, there is only ever one class 001. I’ll buy ya a $1 Beer at the next one.

    Founder, GORUCK

    1. Jason:

      I appreciate your response to my review. This was a fun event and definitely has the potential to be something even greater and truly unique. I definitely wanted to be as honest as possible because there are so many of these up-and-coming OCRs that flop! GORUCK is a great organization that deserves to take this opportunity and run with it.

      And about the safety of the obstacles– I am sure they were completely up to standards, no doubt about that, but the risk involved was great; much greater than I am used to in my experience with OCRs and much greater than for the average OCRer. Falling from some of these obstacles that do not have cargo net could be deadly. But OCRs are a risk, some obstacles are a bigger risk than others. Also, I would urge GORUCK to diversify some of the obstacles as well (less height/climbing, more strength, swimming, crawling, mud, lifting/sandbag/strength, etc) But I am sure that is all in due time! I look forward to seeing what GORUCK Nasty has to offer in the future!



      1. I dont know if you get it… Nasty isnt designed to be like TM or SR.. Its designed to be like the Special Forces Obstacle Course: Nasty Nick.. In some cases, exactly like it.
        The danger is there. The risk is there. The realism is there. The uniqueness is there. Its completely different from whats out there, outside of Military obstacle courses.

        Less climbing, less height, and less uniqueness makes them just like everyone else.

        Google: BUD/S O-Course and Nasty Nick.

        1. The review & the pics I’ve seen have me very curious to get on a Nasty Course. I want to be pushed higher & harder. The obstacles at some major OCR’s have gotten stale for me on the whole picture. The harder obstacles at most events now is the Terrain itself which can make the other regular obstacles harder based on placement…but at the end of the day there is t much variation from race to race. The pics in this reviews look great for the unique obstacles associated with NASTY.

          I look forward to attending one in the future & being introduced to the GORUCK Community.

  2. Three cheers for GORUCK in making obstacles gnarly enough to get people talking! This review lit a fire under me to seek out one of these GORUCK Nasty races as I crave the empty-pit feeling in my stomach, and haven’t really yet felt that at a traditional obstacle event.

    Just goes to show you that our sport has endless possibilities.

  3. I highly doubt that Nasty will ever flop, especially with a 3,600 person cap. There will always be faithful GRTs that want to do the Nasty and as fast as GORUCK is growing there will be plenty of new GRTs in the future. Most people that have done a challenge would fully expect difficulty level of Nasty. You should be a little afraid to do an obstacle. Otherwise, there really isn’t a challenge and you’re kind of wasting your money. Considering how much other obstacle course registrations cost, (not to mention food and beer) getting every bang for your buck should be top priority.

    The lines will be fixed. Jason addressed this even before the last person crossed the finish line. As for atmosphere… I personally can’t stand the “Woodstock” atmosphere of Tough Mudder. GORUCK wants to be unique and they did that with NASTY in my opinion. Jason always says it’s about the people and throwing down 25% off gear and $1 beers (all money from beer going to the Green Beret Foundation) more than makes up for the shortcomings of Nasty 001. I think Nasty 002 will be hands down the best obstacle course considering: 1. The few shortcomings there were in 001, 2. GORUCK’s attention to detail, and 3. GORUCK’s standard of exceptional customer service.

    Finally, you didn’t mention anything about the camp site (what other obstacle course offers that?) or that it took place at a real resort with specials on rooms and not in a field 30min away from a park-and-ride shuttle.

  4. I like the idea of some challenging way way up in the air obstacles. Jason, please don’t water down the obstacles. All the other stuff seems like good recommendations.

  5. True enough the inaugural beginning for any event usually has its small set backs and hiccups, yet despite Goruck ‘s first official attempt at an obstacle course I found it to be extremely successful. While I agree with your summations regarding the good, I disagree with some of your “bad” assessments and believe that’s it’s more of a personal preference than objective evaluation. While on the course cadre and volunteers were easily identified by either a blue volunteer shirt or black cadre shirt, and almost all of them were by or near the obstacles. I found the course well identified and marked with signs pointing us in the right direction and if I had any doubt all I had to do was look ahead of me and see where others were going. What I enjoyed about The Nasty is that it is not your typical dash or mudder with low or non challenging obstacles. If you are familiar with the Goruck Challenge it is designed to push you physically as well as mentally, which was echoed on the Nasty course. For a lot of people, the challenge on the Nasty course was not the obstacle itself but overcoming their inner fears or phobias. The obstacles provided a means for an individual to conquer their inner fear requiring you to push past what you believed you could not do. Completing an obstacle and overcoming your fears only empowers the individual making them stronger and more confident. However, if you were unable to control your fear, whether it be of heights or failure, a second or third option was made available to you. The only negative I have is not with the course or GORUCK but with some of the participants. Upon finishing I returned to watch and encourage others only to see many individuals /groups bypassing whole obstacles, not because of congestion but due to lack of will. These same individuals received their patch regardless and it was disheartening to see. My suggestion would be to mark bibs or foreheads noting those that bypassed obstacles. For those that cannot complete specific stages burpees or other exercises should be required before moving on, just my 2 cents.

    Overall I give Nasty an A for the course, outstanding atmosphere before, during and after the event. Dollar beers were great and came from a great American company as well, concurrent with GORUCK philosophy. Unlike dashes and mudders where the overall feeling is one of trying to drain as much time and money out of you as possible, Nasty seemed more like a reunion with high emphasis on fun, family and friends.

    1. Right there with draining time and money when it comes to other dashes and mudders. April 2014 TM in Mansfield is already upping registration fee.

  6. This was not marketed as an obstacle race…it was a GORUCK event that was a close copy of the Nasty Nick SF course. The obstacles were legit. Don’t think they are safe or you might get hurt? Walk around. Don’t like the long wait? Walk around. Nobody would have noticed or cared.

    For a freshman effort, I thought it was a brilliant ‘dysfunctional family reunion’. Lines were to be expected but I went there to do the things….so I waited, took my best shot and moved on. The Ugly Name and Belly Buster defeated my short legs and miserable vertical jump….but the rest was cake.

    I saw Cadre at every obstacle…several at a few of the bigger and uglier ones…bullhorn in hand telling me to ‘ Hurry up….hurry up….hurry up.’

    Perhaps duplicates of the bigger obstacles would have minimized some lines but those things were not quick and easy toys.

    All in all I thought it was a great effort and a hella good time.

  7. A quick note about not being able to complete an obstacle if unable to climb the rope. That is incorrect. I could not climb up any of the ropes, but still completed those obstacles. On the first one, involving rope, there was an option to climb up a thin wire ladder to the next part of the obstacle. On the one towards the end, there was a wooden ladder to climb up to the next step. I did that and completed the other portions of the obstacles. So did many other participants I saw.

    GORUCK, please, please, please do not water down the obstacles. I’ve done a Tough Mudder, a Super Spartan and a Spartan Beast. None were easy for me and each brought it’s own hurdles to conquer, but The Nasty took it to a higher level. I stalled half-way up the Confidence Climb and then another short stall on the Tough One, where you needed to walk across spaced out beams. In both instances, the cadre calmly watched me and calmly provided a boost of confidence that allowed me to push myself past a perceived limit to complete each obstacle in question. It wasn’t a loud, “you can do it! go, go, go!”, but a few calm words of advice that inspired confidence in myself. It’s mainly to do with the fact that these guys aren’t about the show, they are the real deal and have been through and understand things that very, very few people can even begin to imagine. Simply put, if a guy like that tells you that you can do something, you can have confidence that it’s not a blank statement, that the cadre has evaluated you and your ability to deal with a particular situation and the advice given is solid. They open a door for you to push yourself through, not just physically, but mentally. You can do many things that you think you can’t, but that mental block is the real obstacle. Anyway, I’m rambling trying to put into words something that’s not so easy to put into words. Don’t water down the obstacles. Completing them was one of the most eye opening, rejuvenating and satisfying things I’ve done in a long time.

    Also, at the last Spartan Race, the MC rambled on and on to rile us up. It wouldn’t end. I don’t want to stand there for ten minutes listening to chanting. I know what I’m here for, I can see the first few obstacles and I’m already excited about getting after it. Just throw a smoke grenade and tell us to go. Simple.

  8. Hey Kat,

    Thanks for blogging about Nasty. I am one of those OCR racers as i have now completed 27 OCR specific events in the last two years. I have participated in each of the major ones (including several Beasts and the first Ultra Beast) and several small ones which are no longer around.
    For me it was a great event with a few issues (the lines) which many other races have issue with. Parking was easy and close to the entrance, registration was a breeze and the free camping was, well free and you cannot beat that.

    What I have issue with is how you spoke of some of the obstacles being too high and dangerous and suggesting water obstacles as an alternative. As you are probably aware of but your readers may not know, the majority of accidental deaths have occurred at the water obstacles (TM jumping into the water from height and one elite racer in a Florida event during a swim portion of a race). Those are the most dangerous obstacles out there in the OCR world. The obstacles at height (confidence climb and Tough one) had the 24″-36″ deep pads to protect people from falling and had several cadre (not just random volunteers with no training) on those more difficult obstacles.
    I also witnessed for the first time ever, cadre telling people how to complete an obstacle and encouraging them what to do next (okay swing your arm up, now leg etc etc). I have never seen a Staff member (not volunteer) do this at an event.

    Back to dangerous obstacles, Tough Mudder has some ridiculous obstacles that are known for causing injury. How many TM events have we heard the water was not deep enough at the the Jump, or people losing teeth and broken ankles at the half pipe?

    There are much more dangerous OC events that also are simply there to extract your money from your wallet. They charge $10 to park, $100 plus for a 6 mile plus event, $7 beers and full price swag and gear.

    Nasty was more like the original Spartan races, where people knew each other, the owners and CEO and leadership came to the races and ran it with you, shook your hand or have you your medal. It was not oversold, they did not cram 10k of people in a 5k race and did many things well and a few need improvement.

    As for “elite racers,” that’s an over used self given term. Elite racers are ones who podium or consistently in the top 10. I have witnessed many many self proclaimed “elites” cheat, skip obstacles and do the burpees or when they realize they won’t be top ten, quit and leave the mountain. Witnessed with my own two eyes again and again.

    One last comment, the tallest obstacles were 35ft high (confidence climb and tough one).
    Thanks and have an amazing day!

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