Mud Mingle, Orlando, Race Review
Contributor Shyam Sriram went down to Florida with his buddy Tony Ferrante and came back with this review.
Advertised as the “silliest, messiest, muddiest, most funnest, mud run ever,” we decided to drive down to Florida for the January 25th Mud Mingle Orlando. The event was not actually in Orlando, but 30 miles north in Sorrento. Mud Mingle is relatively new in the world of obstacle course racing, but many of the course designers and organizers have experience from working on other events and it showed. This was a fun, professional and well-organized event that was not exactly as advertised, but still a lot of fun.
The course was advertised as a 5K (3.2 miles), but actually came out to more like 3.8 miles. However, due to the absence of mud and that damningly slick Georgia clay, this was a very manageable 3.8 miles (6.11K). Yes, that’s right, very little mud. Oh and even better? We both came to the revelation on the morning of the race that we were in Central Florida so there would be no hills!
What Mud Mingle Got Right
- Barring the delay at the beginning of the race when the 8:20 a.m. wave was pushed to 8:40 a.m., this was an extremely well-organized event. The race organizers were cheerful and wandering around and easy to find if you had a question.Registration was a breeze and the bag check at $5 was well-organized.
- Instead of mud, the entire course was covered in potting soil that felt like you were running on very cold sand, but that looked like ash. It was much easier to run through than mud, but still challenging. The sides of the sandy roads provided firmer ground when your quads and calves started complaining, but with ample cacti everywhere this was an added obstacle. It really made running kind of fun and interesting.
- There was one food truck, but the race organizers received major brownie points for providing not just any beer, but a complimentary Sapporo beer for race participants over 21; a fire pit, which was sorely needed with chilly early morning temperatures; and free hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was a nice touch and no small undertaking. The race organizers put in extra effort to make sure they kept the warm yumminess flowing.
- And on the subject of the beer, we want to point out our favorite sight of the day that went unheralded and unnoticed by most folks. There was a group of active duty servicemen in their camouflage utilities assembled to begin their assault on the Mud Mingle. We saw the race director, Garfield Griffiths (who was clad in a killer Union Jack kilt BTW), quietly approach our military men and women and graciously present them with two cases of beer and his thanks. Truly a class act, Garfield.
- We counted approximately 15 obstacles including traditional challenges like log and tire carries; a short scramble uphill with a rope for assistance; cargo net bear crawls; short and high walls; a rope climb; monkey bars; and a tunnel crawl. However, we ran through some obstacles that were out of the ordinary. We liked the two mental puzzles, one of which including choosing between two routes – “Death” or “Piece of Cake” – as well as one challenge where participants had to solve a riddle or do push-ups as punishment. We also enjoyed the knife throwing contest, which had an air of country fair coolness about it. You had three chances and if you stuck all three you won a huge carnival stuffed animal that you got to carry with you the rest of the race. Talk about fun, funny, and semi-challenging at the same time!
- Margarita and Bacon Stations ON THE COURSE! Clean eating and nutrition be damned! This is a running, muddy party, not an Ironman. The little cup of (possibly) spiked margarita about a third of the way in was delicious and such a fun thing to have. Then another third of the way through was a table of smiling volunteers handing out crispy and freshly cooked strips of bacon deliciousness. Running the rest of the way with the taste of bacon in your mouth is an experience to bring a smile to your face.
- The final obstacle was spectacular and a great way to finish the race. The organizers included the often copied inclined wall, but gave participants a very thick, knotted rope. Once you made it to the top, you had to climb down the structure and choose to go through a pipe on your back or head first and plunged about 10 feet into the mud. After a 10-foot crawl under “barbed wire” (actually bungee cords strung low) and staggering up, we were greeted with a full, whipped cream pie to the face – much better than the musclebound gladiators we all have come to know and love at the end of most OCRs.
- The medal was a nice, colorful Mud Mingle dog tag on a chain that says “Declare Shenanigans” and that’s exactly what you’re involved in. Blood, Sweat, and Tears may play on the DJ’s sound system at the after party, but it’s not really a part of this race. Even the “Elite Heat” awards had a funny twist. Jars of mud for the fastest Mud Minglers. You don’t see that every day.
What Mud Mingle Can Improve Upon
- For an event titled “Mud Mingle” there was surprisingly little mud. There were only two mud obstacles – an electrical wire crawl under barbed wire and live wires about half a mile in, and then the obligatory mud bath at the end. I understand that the Florida terrain was not inherently muddy, but by naming the event “Mud Mingle” it just seemed like an easy attempt to cash in on the popularity of mud runs. The logistical difficulties of importing dirt to a sandy location are understood, but future Mud Mingles at this venue would benefit from additional mud being added, especially because it was kind of nice mud. A good, muddy pit at the beginning covers the participants from the start and adds to the allure of the mid-race photos.
- If you are going to include an obstacle with live electricity than all participants should receive some sort of electrical shock. However, there were only electrical wires in the very middle of the obstacle and if you got very low, almost submerged and emerged “Apocalypse Now”-style at the end, you could avoid getting shocked completely. The gold standard for this kind of obstacle has to be the Tough Mudder’s Electric Eel. Maybe less power like the Savage Race uses so it only feels like you got hit with a rubber sledgehammer instead of possibly being rendered unconscious, but the shock obstacles usually provide the greatest number of screams, shouts, laughter, and “adult language opportunities.”
- There should be an option for those who are interested to pay for a timing chip so they could keep up with their time and figure out where they’ve placed among their peers and age groups. This can be a financial burden and may not work, but a lot of OCR athletes really enjoy being timed at these races because let’s face it, all fun aside, they are athletic events and races.
Overall Impression and Recommendation
We both truly enjoyed this event immensely. It was a fun, semi-challenging way to get together with a large group of our favorite people in the OCR community and do the things we love to do. If you wanted a more challenging physical experience there was a 10k (which ended up being 12.22k) option available where you just ran another lap to get more of a physical challenge. We would recommend this race and any other future events organized by this same team, and we’re already trying to arrange to be in Miami for the Mingle de Mayo on May 3rd.
Photos courtesy of Fixed Focus Photography.
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