Muddy Warrior 2017 is here! At Obstacle Racing Media, we feel it is just important to support the smaller, first time efforts as it is to support the larger races annnd….. Since I live pretty close, I thought I would go and check out this local race.
Muddy Warrior is a brand new, small scale mud run organized by a small group of OCR enthusiasts and supporters in Cardston, Southern Alberta Canada. It’s early days for this race company so it’s fun to see the genesis of these smaller events. Even the bigger races started out small.
On the day, the weather was a little cool, which may have hindered spectator turnout a little, but parking was easy enough and we didn’t have a long way to walk to get in or a long time to get cold. The venue featured a live DJ/MC and a kids playground very closeby to keep the little ones entertained enough. There was a bag check, and race photography available on site. A food truck also showed up. For spectators, there was a bouncy castle and inflatable zorb type things you could bounce around in. Not bad for a first event!
Check in was simple and the course used an effective timing chip system and racing bib numbers. The event was attended by a relatively small number of participants but those who attended seemed to all have a good time at the race. Remember. Small beginnings.
The course distance was 5 kilometers in a river valley, starting from the athletic fields and working its way out and back at a turnaround point with a water station near the halfway mark which could be accessed from either direction.
I logged about 100m of elevation gain and loss over the distance, which is quite manageable for experienced athletes but the hills may pose a good challenge for first-time racers or other casual muddy warriors. In all though, I would say the terrain itself wasn’t too challenging. Almost everyone could do this race quite happily without too much hardship.
The obstacle course included a slip n’ slide (AKA the wedgie maker), a tire drag, tire flip, tire hops, hurdles, an 8 ft wall, a large hay-bale stack, two mud pits covered with string netting, a traverse wall including a rope traverse, a pair of old cars, over/under/through walls, a pyramid wall with ropes, 4 angled ninja platforms, a Zig-Zag balance beam, spider web sections and a great riverbed running section.
I finished in second place. Yeah, sometimes I podium. Someone faster always tends to show up when you need to be humbled. Today was such a day.
This was a first-time race from the course organizers so naturally there are a few things to tweak here and there. I’ll start with the issues I had on course, and then talk about the great stuff that worked really well.
Things to learn from
- Double check the course marking. This is easy to correct for next time by just adding in a few more arrows on the ground or on trees between breaks in the course marking tape. Some obstacles were too easily missed.
- There were no instructions on some of the obstacles that were unmanned.
- Some of the volunteers needed better instruction.
- Many of the obstacles were not visible to the spectators, which meant that it was hard to get spectator participation or interest.
- I couldn’t find the defining signature of this race. More on that later and why that is important. That will happen as it develops.
The good stuff.
You can’t ever beat running over the top of cars. It’s just great fun and it makes you feel like you’re in an action movie.
I also really enjoyed the massively tall slip and slide because of the speed and opportunity to catch my breath after the hill that led to it. The hay bale mountain was a really tough challenge and I would have welcomed more of those mountains in a row!
The Z wall/rope traverse was great. It was a really fun obstacle that offered enough challenge without being impossible – it wasn’t too short, but I would love to have another section to complete, making that into a uniquely challenging keystone obstacle of the race.
Running down the river-bed at high speed was probably my favourite part of the whole thing – the battle for first place took place along the riverbed and that added drama and a dynamic challenge underfoot.
Final Thoughts – Developing Identity
Many of the elements were superb and the setup is to be applauded. I loved the fact that this was a smaller local race. The course was laid out with optimism and a clear love of obstacle racing. people were having a great time. The formula is good, but with a few small adjustments to the layout and obstacles, this will continue to develop into really cool things for Cardston and Muddy Warrior.
Showcase the awesome – Placing a few more of the key obstacles within the race-ground arena to allow participants to enjoy more interaction with the spectators during the event would be cool. Stimulate competition by letting the battles for position take place in the arena. The obstacles were awesome. Showcase that more!
Make it tough – make people carry heavy stuff up and down the hills during OCR. They like it – they showed up to go to the crazy zone. Honestly, they do – they come back next year for the unique challenge they struggled on. Bring in the heavy stuff. People will not be put off.
Define yourself – Find a keystone/defining obstacle, moment or set of obstacle movements that become and define the identity of the race. Whether it’s three walls in a row, catching a chicken, or doing a Z wall with a blindfold, I don’t care. Make people change levels or positions most often. Throw in more crawls, more cars to climb over, more heavy carries or water based obstacles than any other race, or even a pile of horse dung at the end – identify yourself as the race with the thing-a-ma-bob that makes Muddy Warrior what it is.
I’ll be back next year to see how things develop! Thanks for the great day and for being so accommodating Muddy Warrior.