Earlier today, we heard from SmithFest Events about Runzilla. A one day festival to include an obstacle course, a Crossfit style WOD, a 5k, and race expo.

A portion of their press release states:

The Runzilla Expo is a showcase of fitness products built around multiple athletic competitions all in one day! The event will focus on Obstacle Course Racing, XFit Training and racing of all types. This is the Athlete’s Expo!  Our goal is to deliver an event that brings all the major races, products, athletes and vendors together for a great day of fitness and fun!  Come out and race or just enjoy the exhibitors and spectate the races.

As a reminder, SmithFest Events are the creators of Panic in the Dark and Blizzard Blast. They also are behind The Musical Chairs World Championship and one of the world’s biggest Scavenger Hunts.

We asked CEO Fred Smith:

ORM: When did you first come up with this concept?

Fred: I have been thinking about a fitness expo for a few years and over the last eighteen months had discussed an OCR based Expo and felt OCR only expo wasn’t where I wanted it to go. I wanted a more combined expo that would create a fun meshing of the industries. This would allow the products and races to showcase to the entire running and fitness community.

ORM: How long is the indoor/outdoor course?

Fred: The Indoor/Outdoor OCR course is not finalized for the exact distance as we have a few things we must go over with the venue this week but it will be a short track 1.0 to 1.5 mile course. Keeping this in mind we have added a “unlimited lap” option as part of registration for those who want to get the normal type distance out of their day. We also have a Runzilla “Trinity” option that allows you to complete all three events in one day and receive a “Trinity” Sweatshirt for your accomplishment. The WODZilla Course will be a shorter distance but
with more technical xfit style movements to add to the difficulty andoverall workout.

ORM: Can you list some of the current races/sponsors already aligned?

Fred: We have lots of relationships that we have yearly partnerships with,including: Align Credit Union, Wamesit Lanes, Bahama Breeze, Verizon Wireless, Budweiser, Altitude Trampoline Park, Ameriprise Financial.

ORM: Is there anything else you would like to let us know at this time?

Fred:  The potential of a day of class schedule for patrons that want to come and enjoy a different type of workout than what they are used to, we are working with different local gyms and teachers to organize these
classes. We are also looking into a few motivational speakers is in the works as well.

In the future, we hope to build this event to an entire weekend with 6-8 races with kids pentathlon type event at the indoor track at the High School, a 1/2 Marathon, a Mini tri and some more dynamic race ideas that we have hidden in our vault. This along with adding guest speakers, more great sponsors and some of the industry leaders we hope to become the kick-off to the racing season in New England for years to come!

Learn about the rules, swag, medals and more at

Blizzard Blast Race Review

January obstacle course races are hard to come by in New England. Enter Blizzard Blast, a five mile winter-themed race that takes place in January at Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut, Massachusetts, put on by SmithFest Events. Blizzard Blast does a good job of filling a niche – the affordable entry-level winter race. At between $40 and $70, it provides good value.

Four Oaks Country Club is a nice place to have a winter race. The entire club is open for post-race meals and as a pre- and post-race hangout. There is ample room for storing your bag and changing. Post-race, there is free chili or soup, and though selection was limited and you had to wait in a line, the price was right. The one big minus to the location is that parking, which costs $10, is offsite and about a 10 minute bus ride away. Getting to the race went smoothly; however, on the return trip, the wait for the bus was almost 20 minutes. Other than that, logistics were pretty effortless. Check-in was a cinch.

Blizzard Blast Tree Carry

The course was 5.5 miles of rolling hills. This year was void of snow and lots of the running was on the concrete golf cart paths around the club. The course also integrated some trails that were in wooded areas adjacent to the golf course. The one real downside to the course was the obstacle placement. Blizzard Blast is advertised as being a 5K race; however, last year it clocked in at 5.8 miles and this year it clocked in at 5.5 miles. The first 2.5 miles of the race contained only one set of obstacles – an over and under wall. The vast majority of the obstacles were jumbled together at the end. I would love to see this race as a more obstacle-dense 5K.

Blizzard Blast Hoist

Blizzard Blast had around a dozen and a half obstacles. The obstacles were in keeping with the race’s winter theme and featured a pine tree carry, a holiday lights crawl (instead of a barbed wire crawl), and a hot chocolate stop mid-race. The race is sponsored by a beer company and kegs proliferated. There were two styles of keg hoists and a keg carry. The featured obstacle of Blizzard Blast is Keg Kingdom. This obstacle is made up of suspended kegs that the racer must swing from, followed by a set of monkey bars. Swinging from kegs is tricky (they move in unpredictable ways!) but also fun and unique.

Blizzard Blast Keg Kingdom

The swag from Blizzard Blast includes a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt and a really nice finishers medal. For those who like to collect medals, this one would make an excellent addition to your collection.

Blizzard Blast Medal

Bottom line: Even with its faults, I’ll keep going to Blizzard Blast because it’s a race during a time of year when there are very few things on my calendar OCR-wise. It’s a good opportunity to play outside in the winter and a great opportunity to get to see friends that I see less often than I wish during the colder months. If this race was instead in a busy month like May or July or very far away from my house, I might skip it. That being said, I like how the obstacles are different from what I see elsewhere and have an entertaining twist that adds up to a good time.

Have I signed up for the 2017 Blizzard Blast yet? No. Will I? Very likely, yes. It’s fun. It’s a race anyone can do, and with all the miles of running without an obstacle, friends are key to the experience. So, yes, 2017, I’ll be there.

(Photo credits: Blizzard Blast and  Caley McGuane Photography)