There are many reasons I go to obstacle course races; the challenge, the fun, the comradery. Some are nothing more than Mud Runs and they have their place in the industry, for beginners and such. Mud Factor was none of these. I should have researched this event before purchasing the Groupon but this is what happens when an event comes within 30 minutes of your house (confessions of an OCR Addict). The following advertisement for their Dayton event should have been a dead giveaway. They can’t even produce good quality Photoshop, but this is by far the least of their issues.
Upon arrival, the standard $10 parking fee was requested. We were the last 2 cars in the parking lot and we were fairly early so they already didn’t have adequate parking. Everyone after us was having to park down the street, which was not very long, and in other business lots. As they walked up to the venue, the jokers at the entrance of the parking lot were charging even those walking in $10 and calling it an ‘entrance’ fee. Trying to give the benefit of the doubt here, this might have been under the control of the venue and not Mud Factor. The following is from their website, I guess motorcycles are free but pedestrians are $10.
So let’s just jump right into it. The following is the description of Mud Factor as listed on their website, “Seriously Fun, 5K Obstacle Run!”. So most everyone knows that I run a lot of races and I appreciate them on all levels. This event wasn’t even close to fun, especially ‘seriously’ fun. There were several newcomers to the sport with my group and even they said it was just lame. 5k, not even close. It was 2-1/2 miles at best. Obstacle Run – well I guess technically we did have the opportunity to run and if there is only one obstacle that would make it an ‘obstacle run’. We ran for 1 mile before the first ‘obstacle’ that was a cargo net strung over a rope that you had to crawl under on grass. There were tires to run through. There was a small, watery area that we had to wade and crawl through. There were some telephone poles as balance beams. There was this large cargo net to climb up and over. All of these were part of the permanent course. This cargo net climb was so loose even I was shaky on it. Seems somewhat harmless up to this point, right?
Then came the water slide. A simple water slide, not very long, but long enough that it could be fun. It could have been fun if they would have done anything to the ground underneath it before they laid down the plastic. This was on a mound of excavated dirt and rock, keeping in mind this land used to be a gravel pit. You had no idea what was under that slide until you went down it and then it was too late. The damage was done. This dinky little water slide injured more people in one event than I have ever seen from any ‘obstacle’, anywhere. I would have to guess that at least half of the people that went down the slide were hurt with at least bumps and bruises. Several people received cut and some gashes that required stitches and others acquired broken tailbones.
If you look at the pictures on their website and Facebook page, you see mud, lots of mud. They call themselves a MUD run. You will notice that not once have I mentioned ‘mud’ yet and we are at the finish line. So here is the token ‘mud’.
They built a box and lined it with plastic, like a big sandbox and filled it with top soil and water. Before the ‘run’
I was looking for the clean-off facilities and found a few garden hoses with a trickle coming out of them that would fill a 20 ounce cup in about an hour. Knowing this, I opted to walk around this mess. At least they had a finisher’s medal, but I’m rather embarrassed to even let anyone know I was there.
At the water station located about midway, they had music playing. The same 2 songs playing on repeat, over and over and over. Maybe this was to be considered an obstacle or some sort of psychological warfare, like waterboarding.
What makes it even worse is they weren’t even good songs; Cutting Crew – I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight and Toto –Rosanna . I used to like the Toto song but I’m pretty sure I will have some bad flashback if I ever hear it again.
Now for the real dirt on Mud Factor Dayton.
I mentioned earlier that this was on the site of a permanent course called the Gem City Gauntlet. They have a few obstacles, nothing major, and most of them are of extremely poor quality construction. As we neared the halfway point of this event, we ran past one of these obstacles. This picture was taken 18 months ago.
Considering these pictures were taken 18 months before this event and the ‘obstacle’ had just been built, on the day of Mud Factor, it did not look to be in any condition to be climbed on. It was not part of the Mud Factor course but it wasn’t clearly marked off limits. There was no caution tape and no volunteers directing people away from it. In fact, I didn’t see any volunteers on the course except for the water station and the guys spraying water down the slide. We ran right by it but at some point in the waves after us, evidently some people decided to attempt it. I don’t know how many people made it successfully but a woman attempted it and fell to the ground, ultimately breaking her back and sacrum. She is currently facing a 4 month recovery.
The following is taken directly from the Mud Factor website
There was no medical personnel present at any time. No EMT’s and not one person monitoring any of the obstacles for safety, including the ones that weren’t supposed to be part of the course, even though we ran right under it.
To summarize Mud Factor: False advertising and negligent. Not worth a penny to anyone. Organizations like this do nothing but harm the Mud Run and Obstacle Course Racing industry by coming into the fastest growing sport and market in North America, just to make a buck. There are a few people that have fun but the vast majority are extremely disappointed and many of them injured. If companies like this are allowed to continue, they will ultimately damage the industry beyond repair. I have even learned that Mud Factor has recently cancelled several events with just a few short days notice and are refusing to give refunds.
Since this event, there has been a huge backlash on Facebook against Mud Factor and its parent company Eight 51, Inc. Every time anyone makes a negative comment anywhere on Facebook, the comment is eventually deleted and that person is blocked from the pages. Needless to say, they have been very busy deleting and blocking. Following is one of the many posts and comments by Mud Factor that were less than professional. I will let you decide for yourself if this is a quality, reputable company that you wish to support.
In their own words, “Mud Factor doesn’t give a shit”