When you mix over three thousand OCR runners, American Ninja Warrior inspired obstacles, and the rolling hills of Ohio you are bound to have a good time. Just outside Hillsboro, Ohio the Mud Ninja hosted an amazing event, now three years strong. Starting at 9 am, the elite heat racers took to the hills of Ohio to get the chance to claim one of the infamous Mud Ninja swords. The event itself was approximately 3 miles long, over 25 massive obstacles, and hills that left you gasping for air.
The Mud Ninja did an amazing job of using a mixture of natural terrain, as well as incorporating man made obstacles at areas where spectators could see some of the action unfold. The course started off with a run across a field, straight into a pond, then down rocky downhill trails with fast switchbacks. While the downhill moments were a welcome relief, the road was lined with large rocks and that you could twist ankles on easily.
Midway through the race you were lead back to a spectator friendly area. Here the runners would compete in many large obstacles inspired from Ninja Warrior, or other balance related events. Traverse lines, gorilla bars, as well as traverse walls were some of the obstacles the racers met only half way into the race. At some points of the race the obstacles could not be crossed without help from other runners. At this point it was up to the athletes to receive help from volunteers, as well as assist each other in the obstacles.
One new obstacle this year was an eight foot culver pipe mixed with a water slide. While this style of obstacle partnered with teamwork has been seen in the OCR community it is not common to have obstacles in an elite wave that you cannot accomplish alone. Shortly after this obstacle the runners came to a permanent fixture similar to the American Ninja Warrior Jump Hang. Once this obstacle was accomplished the course came back into a downhill run then back to one more spectator friendly gauntlet.
This mid-summer event brought out many local teams, but one team stood out more than others. The Crazy Mudder Muckers from the greater Cincinnati area brought over 100 members to this race. The team, led by Kevin Jones, has a growing population of active runners. The group, now reaching over one thousand members on Facebook, range from weekend warriors to Elite OCR athletes. Kevin stated that “the unique thing about our team is the different goals we have.”
The Muckers were born out of Kevin Jones attending his first OCR the Warrior Dash in 2012 meeting camping friends and runners. From simple beginnings of camping they have moved to obtaining faster runners, as well as winning the team competition this year at the 2014 Indiana Spartan Race. In the past weekend alone the group took 12 of the top 15 spots as the Mud Ninja being led by Elite Taylor Clark with a time of 34:12. While some of the runners are in the head of the elite pack you also have yoga teachers, traditional runners, ultra marathon runners, and even Crossfit athletes. The team has been successfully growing in numbers, as well as finishing well in competitions like the 2014 Indiana Spartan where they won the fastest team.
While the OCR industry has been saturated by races of different themes appear and disappear, it was refreshing to see a race like this succeed. This was the third year the Mud Ninja has been at this location. With numbers this positive, amazing vendors, and great runners it is easy to see that Mud Ninja will continue to have a successful future. Events of this nature allow me to believe that smaller races can, and will survive.
*Photos By: Jacob Bosecker, Kevin Jones, and The Crazy Mudder Muckers
Jacob Bosecker is an adventure racer, OCR athlete, and snowboarder from Southern Indiana. Bosecker comes from a background in pole vault and doing parkour in his free time. He lives in Columbus, Indiana and is the captain of an elite OCR team Project Titan. This is Jacob’s first review with ORM.