Nothing makes me happier than a race director that can take constructive criticism, accept it for what it is, reach out for additional feedback, and make an event better because of it. The Tacoma Mud Run’s race director Ralph Thomas deserves some incredible recognition for his ability to adapt and deliver. 2015 was the first year I participated in the Tacoma Metro Parks Mud Run, and I really enjoyed it. When I wrote about my experience, Ralph contacted me to learn exactly how they could improve… and improve they did!
The 2016 Tacoma Metro Parks Mud Run was held at the same location as last year’s event: Swan Creek Park, Tacoma WA. The race site is an old neighborhood that was raised years ago and was turned into a community park that is known for its biking trails. The old neighborhood streets still exist in the park and make for easy parking nearby the registration tent and starting corral. Last year registration was a weak point. There were long lines that moves slowly. This year they clearly marked the registration lines alphabetically and broke the alphabet up into more lines. This had a tremendous effect on registration efficiency. They also had you chose a race time frame when pre-registering which helped break up the mad rush at the beginning of the event. Ralph took my feedback from last year and perfectly implemented the changes.
This year the event also had a food and drink vendor, D.J. spinning some music for everyone to enjoy while waiting for their wave, and a booth for a new local indoor obstacle race training concept called Infinite Obstacles. This was a great improvement as well. Because this race occurs at the beginning of Spring in the Pacific Northwest, chances are good there will be rain, wind, and cold weather. Having coffee and food as well as a couple vendor tents to hang out under was a great addition.
What impressed me the most about the improvements this year was the addition of new obstacles that were high quality and built by Infinite Obstacles. Most of the obstacle from last year were still there. There were varieties of mud pits, vertical walls, tires to flip and pull, and sand bags to carry. However, the obstacles built by Infinite Obstacles really helped to step the event up to another level. They built a set of Spear Throw targets and Spears, Slosh pipes that had to be carried, Inverted Walls and balance beams. One of my favorite aspects of this race though is that it is family friendly. Kids as young as 5 are allowed to participate. It is also very affordable with registration prices from $25-$35 depending on when you register. I bring this up because Ralph and Infinite Obstacles worked together to create kid sized versions of the same obstacles. My son loved it as did all of the other kids I saw. They were able to compete at their own level! How cool for a kid to have obstacles just like mom and dad that they can do on their own. Huge win by Metro Parks Tacoma Mud Run!
If you live in the North West, you must try this event. The 2-mile course is perfect for kids but long enough to kick off your OCR season and get those joints moving after hibernating over the wet and cool winters of Western Washington. Ralph Thomas at Tacoma Metro Parks has done an awesome job and is open to feedback and making the event better while Infinite Obstacles helped make obstacles that even a diehard Spartan Racer could enjoy.
Check out http://www.metroparkstacoma.org/mud-run#.VvI6h5X2YlY for the course map and to see what else Tacoma Metro Parks has in store for 2016.
Photo Credit: Russ Carmack