Last weekend (July 25th) I attended the Terrain Mud Run in Flagstaff, AZ for the second year in a row. Terrain Racing is a local OCR series owned by Jerry Foreman, that currently puts on 4 events per year; in Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff and Las Vegas, NV. In Flagstaff, they offered both 5k and 10k options with racers in each heat starting and finishing together and splitting mid-course.
This year, they had an interesting twist on the traditional start line; runners began standing nearly waist deep in cool water in a pair of large dumpsters, and when the wave started to the firing of a miniature cannon, they had to climb out of the dumpster before crossing the timing mat and starting their chip time. The course was laid out at Fort Tuthill, a gorgeous venue with multiple trail options under the pines at ~7000′ of altitude. The race designers made great use of these trails and occasionally had us bush whacking new ones as well. Along with multiple mud pits, carries (both a WreckBag carry and a long tire carry on the 10k course), walls, and waterslides, Terrain had a few multi-use obstacles where the course crossed; one of these consisted of a mud pit that went under a cargo net (keep your head down), then the course looped about and eventually came upon it again – the second time we had to climb an inclined balance beam, crawl or roll across the cargo net, and descend on a fireman’s pole.
Other signature obstacles included a very steep cargo net climb, a Tarzan swing consisting of three ropes that you had to swing from rope to rope to rope without touching the ground, and a set of incline monkey bars over a pool that you dropped into once you rang the bell at the end. All of these obstacles were sturdy and well constructed, though in the nature of a “fun” mud run, there was no penalty for not completing the obstacles; it was up to the individual.
In addition to Terrain’s obstacles, the course designer also made use of a number of equestrian obstacles at the venue, adding ~15 or so knee to waist-high obstacles to scramble over… It should be noted here that this was about half the number of these “found” obstacles the race utilized last year, making it a bit less of a quad-killer. Racers were rewarded after their run with one of the largest and prettiest medals I’ve seen in OCR, featuring Terrain’s signature angry monkey.
One of the best features of the Terrain Mud Run is that they had a large and energetic festival area with plenty of vendors, competitions, and giveaways, several obstacles including monkey bars and inverted walls to play on, and a beer garden featuring local craft beer from Mother Road Brewing Company, all of which kept racers hanging around well after their race was over. In fact, Terrain Racing engaged a number of local restaurants and other businesses, which in turn offered discounts all weekend long to racers wearing their Terrain shirts (available at pre-race packet pickup).
It should also be mentioned that the venue of Fort Tuthill has its own campground adjacent to the race where a number of us stayed before and after the race, and also hosts the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course – a treetop obstacle course featuring wires, unstable platforms, moving elements and ziplines that one can play on while securely tied into the safety lines.
A wet race on great trails at a phenomenal venue under the trees in Flagstaff, this was a fantastically fun and challenging race. While I love Spartan Races, Tough Mudders and the like, I have a great appreciation for well constructed, well managed, and well run smaller race series. Of all the ones I’ve done that meet this criteria, Terrain Mud Run is one of the best, and I will do everything in my power to keep coming back year after year.
*Photos By: Chris Cow, Simonne Plourde, and Daniel Villarruel.
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