In the words of Rocky Balboa- “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.”
“That’s how winning is done!”
Each year now I put myself through one of these mud runs and obstacle course races. Whether it’s a Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Urban Mudder, etc. 3 miles, 12 miles, 5 miles. Each year I end up a bit bruised, battered, bloodied, and scraped up. I do it for a cause. To give something back. Anything.
They say it’s a young man’s game. I’m probably one of the older dudes out there on event day. I don’t let it defeat me. Maybe I’m crazy. Why do I put myself through this pain? Because I can. Because I won’t ever give up. Life is too much fun, and too short, to sit on a couch and watch it all go by. Even if what I do makes a tiny bit of difference in someone’s life it’s all worth it to me. It’s worth the aches and pains my body feels after these races. Plus, I will admit I do enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I cross that finish line.
I recruited my bud Francisco to get out there with me for his first OCR and we conquered the first ever Urban Mudder NYC in 2015! It was a terrific day and experience. Even with a sunny hot 88 degree day out we crushed it. Boom!
We want to thank all those who offered their support and donations. You rock! We were one of the top 5 fundraising teams for the Make A Wish charity with over $3400! The Make A Wish Foundation was very grateful for our efforts. In total they raised over $40,000 with Urban Mudder. Again, thank you all who helped support us with this cause.
Being that I have participated in a few obstacle course runs these past few years you would think that it would be old hat to me by now. A few months out I step up my training and hit the gym more frequently, while also hitting the pavement multiple times a week. Sure, it gets pretty easy to run a 5K after all this, but the knuckleball comes when you add in a bunch of crazily innovative obstacles along the five mile race course. No matter how many dumbbells you lift, pull-ups you do, or jumping jacks you perform it’s hard to prepare for some of these obstacles that will test your grit and willpower. Some things are just about getting over your fears essentially – heights, water, etc.
Heck, sometimes I can barely balance myself on one foot!
What was very cool is that this event was a just a short cab ride away from where I live as it was held over on Randall’s Island. As we entered the Mudder Central Festival area we were greeted by the pumping sounds of DJ’s spinning music, vendors, food trucks, people getting ready for their race waves, and overall hustle and bustle. A bit of excitement and nervousness crept in my normally confident being. Plus, we could see some of the obstacles and they looked like fun! A wee scary, but I really wanted to try them. It was like a big party going on and the camaraderie was infectious. Everyone was all in this together. It’s not about achieving the best time, but working with others to help each person get through it. Building confidence. Hopefully in one piece.
These events are not without their perils as I have seen a bunch of twisted ankles, cramped legs, injuries, and even some broken bones along the way. Even saw a few of them on this day but hopefully none were too serious.
We checked in and headed over to the Make A Wish tent which we were privileged to have access to. Being that it was a hot day out it was a blessing for the runners and their spectators to hang out in who had fundraised for the foundation. Cold water, fruits, shade, bag check, lunch, and comfy seating were a nice perk. Plus, the staff there were super friendly and helpful. We got to run in the special Make A Wish wave of fundraising runners at noon. It all made us very proud to help support such a great cause.
Now getting to the actual race course. The first part of the run and obstacles took place right on the racetrack of Icahn Stadium. We had to run the track (which felt great by the way – its top notch) and jump over some hurdles called the Mafia Blocks. That set in motion the next five miles of assorted conundrums to get through, up, and over. Obstacles with names such as Head Rush, Swipeout, Ape Shit, Heavy Metal, 2nd Ave Subway, Six Feet Over, Rock and a Hard Place, and Rooftop Series among the dozen or so to attempt and conquer. Honestly, with the heat being what it was and the length of the course it felt like more than five miles! This is where all those months of gym time and hours out running really paid off. Gotta get in that prep to be successful! We were also smart enough to apply sunscreen before we started. I saw a bunch of sunburned participants by the end of the race. Ouch!
We were basically the guinea pigs for this first ever Urban Mudder event which was both humbling and exciting at the same time. We were the first group to run this course and check out these new obstacles. The trailblazers so to speak. It gave us a first hand shot at testing out the course and seeing what was great, good, and what could be changed to make it better. Some obstacles were challenging and some could have been a lot tougher. Some maybe need to be moved to a different part of the course to help keep things moving along. Runner backups kill momentum. Some need to be eliminated for better ones. More water stations along the way were needed. Loved that there was music at certain points with some DJ’s jamming and MET-Rx gummies being handed out. Sure, as a first time event you live and learn, and there are always things that could be tweaked. That’s why honest feedback is essential and I made sure to respond to the survey that was sent to us after the event.
My favorite obstacle was the Rooftop Series which was the closing one. It was an evil genius who thought this one up combining climbing up a few building stories, jumping between rooftops, walking across a balance beam, and then jumping off the building into a giant stuntman balloon. What a blast! Definitely plays with your mind if you have a fear of heights. Head Rush was one of the tougher ones and made sure I ended up wet while working out my arms and legs. Also, the Six Feet Over was a trip as it resembled a giant inflated black hefty bag we had to run up to, jump on, and climb over. As it was made of heavy black rubber it was scorching in the sun. Yowza, but a lot of fun.
Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves at this mudder, even if there wasn’t any mud or electricity involved here. It was a good time! Thousands attended and most were pretty happy with the outcome. It was like a big party atmosphere mixed in with an athletic event. The Beer Garden tent brought about a sense of community for all the finishers and spectators. Having that first cold beer hit my lips after finishing and getting my headband was a trophy in itself.
I felt it was well organized, and the Urban Mudder staff did a great job putting together this first one. Everyone we came in contact with was helpful and more than pleasant. Would I recommend this event to others looking to try one out? Sure would. It’s a good length and just the right amount of obstacles for someone who might have completed a 5K race but not ready for a full Tough Mudder. Even as one who has completed a few obstacle course races before I was pretty satisfied. Big props to Francisco for sticking with it and gutting it out for the last few miles with a badly cramped leg. He did a terrific job.
Great way to spend a warm sunny NYC summer day! Proud members of Mudder Nation!
Urban Mudder – http://urbanmudder.com/
Make A Wish – http://wish.org/