Author - Adam McHenry

1
WARRIOR DASH: THE ENTRY-LEVEL OCR FOR THE MASSES
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MUD NINJA 2014
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TAME THE TERRAIN: THE MONSTER OF SOUTHERN INDIANA
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MUNCIE MUD MAN: EAST-CENTRAL INDIANA’S OCR
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The Road to Becoming a Mud Ninja

WARRIOR DASH: THE ENTRY-LEVEL OCR FOR THE MASSES

Warrior Dash is the premier entry-level OCR. As one of the big 3 racing groups, alongside Spartan Race and Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash has identified their target market and the service they offer.  When you sign up for Warrior Dash, you are signing up for a 3.1 to 3.5 miles distance trail race with up to 12 obstacles.  All obstacles are designed to provide a basic challenge to someone who has just been ripped of the couch and will be entering their first OCR.

Warrior Dash has been conducted in August or September in Crawfordsville, IN for the last 4 years.  Registration for 2015 is already open.  Prices for Warrior Dash are very reasonable.  Entry fees start at $40 the first week of registration and end at $90 on day of race.  Parking is $10.  For your entry fee, you are given the following free items:  medal, t-shirt, fuzzy helmet, and a beer.  You also get free pics and free bag check.  Registration and bag check are very smooth.  I’ve never saw an issue each year I’ve ran.  Something that makes Warrior Dash really worth the value is unlimited laps.  Warrior Dash is super flexible with heat times.  You can pretty much run whichever heat you like and as many as you like.  You receive a medal for each lap finished.   For return on investment, I give a rating of a 5.

The spectator area.  You will find your food and gear for sale, as well as a band playing.  Much to our disappointment, Warrior Dash has a pretty firm policy that they do not allow team tents.  Maybe they just haven’t figured out that the racing teams are the ones that bring in the most revenue.  Without allowing any team tents in the spectator area, I give this a 2.

As far as obstacles, expect relatively safe but also easy obstacles.  Warrior Dash posts on their website all obstacles that they may choose to use on each course.  Warrior Dash has added a new, capstone obstacle, Goliath, which is good.  It is a multi-level, several stage obstacle involving plank crossings, cargo net climbs, and a large slide into a pool of muddy water (be careful not to get this water up your nose or in your mouth).  Again, Warrior Dash is designed as an entry-level OCR.  For difficulty, I give the obstacles a 2.

The terrain of warrior dash is primarily conducted on trails in the woods.  There are a good amount of hills, so the terrain isn’t all flat.  With only 12 obstacles, sometimes Warrior Dash feels like a trail run with a few obstacles rather than a challenging OCR.  For the entry-level OCR racer, the terrain will be more challenging than a standard street 5K or trail race 5K.  I give the overall course a 3.

To summarize, Warrior Dash has defined their target market and they do a good job designing a course for that market.  For all of us who do many OCRs each year, to include more challenging courses, such as Dirt Runner, Tough Mudder, or Spartan Race, Warrior Dash still can fit into our schedules.  For new OCR racers, Warrior Dash is a great starting point.  Given the price ranging from $40 to $90 not counting any discount codes, Warrior Dash is an excellent race to consider for the race calendar.

Team Pic 1 Fire Jump 1 Fire Jump 2 Plank 1 Plank 2 Plank 3 Slide 2 Slide 1 Slide 3 Slide 4 Finish 1 Finish 2

MUD NINJA 2014

     Mud Ninja is a “must run” obstacle course in the sleepy area of South Salem, OH. Located west of the city of Chillicothe, OH, the town of South Salem offers great terrain and a very nice landscape for Mud Ninja. Don’t expect to run through a stream during Mud Ninja, but rather expect to consistently trek up & down hills on a very narrow path. When rating this course, 1 will be the lowest rating for a category and 5 will be the highest.

     Mud Ninja is conducted one weekend each year at the end of July. It’s 5K and consists of approximately 25 obstacles. Upon arriving at Mud Ninja, you can expect good organization with parking followed by a smooth check-in at the different registration booths. One unique aspect about Mud Ninja is the registration process. When you register, you can either choose to be timed or untimed. Upon arrival at the registration check-in tents, there are separate tents for timed and non-timed runners. If you’re a non-timed runner, you very quickly move through the registration process. This kept both tents moving quickly. I’d rate the registration a 4 for efficiency.

     Mud Ninja has several unique obstacles. To keep with the “Ninja” theme, you will go over 2 slack line obstacles. Unless you’ve got good balance or have been practicing, you may end up wet. For anyone who does not like traditional monkey bars, Mud Ninja introduces you to Gorilla Bars. Instead of swinging bar-to-bar, plan on traversing a pit using 2 horizontal bars. And for the signature obstacle, Mud Ninja brings to you the obstacle they’ve named “American Ninja Warrior”. This obstacle was inspired by the Jump Hang from the American Ninja Warrior TV show. For this obstacle, get a running start, jump off a spring board across a ditch and onto a very short cargo net. This cargo net is intentionally short, forcing you to rely solely on upper-body strength to muscle up to the top of the platform. Just like in the American Ninja Warrior TV show, keeping your arms locked in at 90 degrees as you climbed the cargo net preserved upper-body strength. Climb to the top of the platform, feel like a champ for a minute, then down the other side to continue the race. These race-unique obstacles get an overall rating of 5 for both difficulty and uniqueness in an OCR.

     In addition the race-unique obstacles, expect to see many of your favorite obstacles, such as the Troylean Traverse, balance beam logs, ditches and hills, etc. For the terrain, one word: HILLS. The hills in Mud Ninja were definitely challenging. You spend a good amount of time going down or climbing up hills at decent grades. Upon completing the race, each finisher, whether timed or untimed, received a finisher’s medal consisting of a throwing star on a ribbon. For all timed runners, there were many different categories to win in, between top 3 overall and top per age group. Many of the top winners were awarded a ceremonial Samurai Sword. I give the overall course and race rewards a 4.

     To summarize, Mud Ninja presented a good combination of unique obstacles along with more familiar ones with their own twist. For an overall rating of an OCR, Mud Ninja deserves a 4. Mud Ninja does not rise to the difficulty of Spartan Race or Tough Mudder, but is an excellent and very challenging OCR. Given the consistent hilly terrain and price ranging from $27 to $69 not counting any discount codes, Mud Ninja is an excellent race to consider for the race calendar.

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TAME THE TERRAIN: THE MONSTER OF SOUTHERN INDIANA

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ucked away in North Vernon, IN is Muscatatuck Park (http://muscatatuckpark.com). Muscatatuck Park is almost perfectly centrally located between Indianapolis (1 hr 20 min south/southeast), Cincinnati (1 hr 30 min northwest), and Louisville (1 hr north). Known for it’s bouldering, rock climbing (yes, even in Indiana), mountain biking, and trails, the terrain at Muscatatuck Park is a perfect choice for an OCR. If camping or kayaking is your thing, Muscatatuck Park has this too. It’s an all-around treasure for outdoor activities.

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MUNCIE MUD MAN: EAST-CENTRAL INDIANA’S OCR

1 Muncie SWAT Course 2 2a Pre Race Brief 1 4 High Wall 2

Muncie Mud Man has become East Central Indiana’s own OCR in the home of Ball State University, Muncie, IN.  It’s 5K and consists of approximately 16-20 obstacles.  While the terrain is mostly flat, you’ll experience a good mix of running through streams, windy treks through dense woods, open fields, 1-2 good hills, and most importantly, several passes through the obstacles of the Muncie SWAT’s obstacle course.  When rating this course, 1 will be the lowest rating for a category and 5 will be the highest.

Muncie Mud Man is conducted one to two weekends each year.  After several races in April and October (all of which being below 40 degrees during the competitive wave), this race was moved to Labor Day Weekend.  Parking is next door to the Muncie FOP for the standard $5-$10 fee.  Being a smaller, local OCR, registration takes place in the FOP building.  Also, there are some real perks to running a small, local OCR:  spectators, bag check, and pictures are all FREE.  For the ease of registration and free perks, I’d rate the registration a 4.

If you have never been in the service or law enforcement, you’ll love the change of pace of being able to run on the Muncie SWAT course.   As you’d expect, this is a professional course designed to test you physically in several different aspects.  There are 3 rows of 3-4 obstacles each.  With minimal running between obstacle, you’ll go through an under & over wall, walk up a high wall with a rope for support, go across the balance beam, then across the “Troylean Traverse”.   In your second pass, expect to cross the monkey bars, ascend the “Stairway to Heaven”, and then up through an opening onto a multi-level platform.  In the final row, climb the rope, conquer the “Tough One”, go over the “Dirty Name”, and up & over the cargo net climb.  I’d rate this SWAT course a 5 for difficulty, layout, and quality of obstacles.

Away from the actual SWAT course, do not expect too many obstacles.  Expect to run through dense woods, up & over a pretty steep hill, and run through 2 fields.  You can expect a couple obstacles, but nothing too challenging.  In the competitive heat, this is a good opportunity to for faster runners to make up some ground or to advance their lead.  For teams or individual runners in the non-competitive waves, it’s not exciting.  Since Muncie Mud Man is marketed as a “5K Muddy Obstacle Run”, I have to give this part of the course a 1.

To summarize, Muncie Mud Man presented a good combination of multiple terrain types along with a professional obstacle course.  For an overall rating of an OCR, Muncie Mud Man deserves a 3.  Muncie Mud Man does not rise to the difficulty of Spartan Race, Rugged Maniac, or Mud Ninja, but is a challenging OCR as well as a fun team event.  Given the SWAT obstacle course, the price ranging from $39 to $59 not counting any discount codes, and the perks of free spectators, bag check, and pictures, Muncie Mud Man is a good race to consider for the race calendar.

The Road to Becoming a Mud Ninja

Obstacle_American Ninja Warrior

Mud Ninja is a “must run” obstacle course in the sleepy area of South Salem, OH. Located west of the city of Chillicothe, OH, the town of South Salem offers great terrain and a very nice landscape for Mud Ninja. Don’t expect to run through a stream during Mud Ninja, but rather expect to consistently trek up & down hills on a very narrow path.
Mud Ninja is conducted one weekend each year at the end of July. It’s 5K and consists of approximately 25 obstacles. Upon arriving at Mud Ninja, you can expect good organization with parking followed by a smooth check-in at the different registration booths. One unique aspect about Mud Ninja is the registration process. When you register, you can either choose to be timed or untimed. Upon arrival at the registration check-in tents, there are separate tents for timed and non-timed runners. If you’re a non-timed runner, you very quickly move through the registration process. This kept both tents moving quickly.
Mud Ninja had a good combination of familiar obstacles with some new obstacles. Of the familiar obstacles with a new twist, the 3 that stood out the most were the tunnel crawl, the giant wall, and the slide. Starting with the tunnel crawl, the obstacle Midnight Snakebite offered more than just crawling through a straight, tight tunnel. This was a rather longer, winding path with the maze-like feel to it. Nothing like coming out of the tunnel to see a snake right in your face. If you looked hard enough, you could see the serial numbers on the (thankfully) rubber toy snake. Well played!
About half-way through the course, you come to The Great Wall. I expect it was an 8-10 foot wall. Mud Ninja has several obstacles designed to force teamwork and this was one of them. Not super difficult as long as long as you have 3-4 people working as a team. To go this one alone, you’d need some mad Parkour skills. Let’s not overlook what seemed to be a favorite obstacle, the Tsunami Slide. This was a nice, simple tarp waterslide down a very long hill. Loads of fun.
For the new obstacles, you can expect to encounter a Slack Line at towards the finish line. Nothing fancy here, just a traditional slack line. Unless you’ve got good balance or have been practicing, you may end up wet. For anyone who does not like traditional monkey bars, Mud Ninja introduces you to Gorilla Bars. Instead of swinging bar-to-bar, plan on traversing a pit using 2 horizontal bars. And for the signature obstacle, Mud Ninja brings to you the obstacle they’ve named “American Ninja Warrior”. This obstacle was inspired by the Jump Hang from the American Ninja Warrior TV show. For this obstacle, get a running start, jump off a spring board across a ditch and onto a very short cargo net. This cargo net is intentionally short, forcing you to rely solely on upper-body strength to muscle up to the top of the platform. Just like in the American Ninja Warrior TV show, keeping your arms locked in at 90 degrees as you climbed the cargo net preserved upper-body strength. Climb to the top of the platform, feel like a champ for a minute, then down the other side to continue the race.
To summarize, Mud Ninja presented a good combination of unique obstacles along with more familiar ones with their own twist. Given the consistent hilly terrain and price ranging from $27 to $69 not counting any discount codes, Mud Ninja is an excellent race to consider for the race calendar.

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