April showers bring spring mud runs. Variety is key to any training regimen—so unless you’re regularly crawling through tunnels, climbing 12-foot walls, and launching into waste-deep mud pits, here are some events to help you round out your fitness goals this spring.
1. Hodges Farm April Fools Mud Run, April 11
“The problem some runs have is the obstacles need to be transported to another state for an event next week,” explains Frank Hodges, 12th generation owner-operator of the farm. “Our obstacles are designed to be more or less permanent. We’ve been building them for two months.”
Expect these to include five mud pits, walls up to 12-feet high, tunnels, and a few natural obstacles like stream crossings. There will even be a purpose-built log cabin to climb over.
Hodges Family Farm is working with several charities, sending $5 from each entry to the group designated by the runner at registration; Wounded Warriors is the house charity.
Parking: Free and on site
2. Spartan Sprint, April 11-12
One of the biggest names in obstacle/mud runs brings the shortest event in its racing line up to Porter Farms in 2015. The approximately 3-mile course is packed with more than 20 obstacles. Expect to carry heavy things, climb over high things, and crawl under low things. Oh, and at some point someone will probably try and hit you with a padded stick.
Although it’s the shortest of the Spartan Races, the Sprint is typically considered a next level event compared to the more laid-back atmosphere of other mud runs this distance. That being said, anyone in generally good physical condition can complete the course. It does pay to go have a team for this one, you may need help getting over some challenges.
For experienced Sprinters, expect a fast course without a lot of elevation gain. Those who can transition between obstacles swiftly should fare well.
There will be three or four water stations on the course, but given the difficulty of some of the obstacles and the time it can take less experienced competitors to finish, it might be a good idea to bring a Camelback and energy gels just in case.
Expect a festival atmosphere with music, food, beer, and vendor tents for the after-run party.
Parking: VIP on-site $40, otherwise $10/car ($20/van, $50 bus or RV)
Spectators: $20 online, $25 cash on site.
3. Warrior Dash, June 6
You will get muddy. You will get wet.
Among the 12 obstacles you’ll encounter on the 3-mile course laid out on the grounds of the historic Rural Hill, you can bet that you’ll probably be crawling through mud under barbed wire, slogging up and down hills of mud, and jumping into a muddy water pit. Not the location to wear your brand new Hokas.
A bit like a very muddy version of recess, the Warrior Dash is a great option for the first-time mud runner. The obstacles are challenging but most are surmountable by anyone in decent health. And it’s a self-timed event so a little less competitive than the Spartan. However, there is a competitive wave that kicks things off with a spot at the national championships up for grabs.
But you do still get to jump over fire. Good luck training for that.
Like every good race of this sort, the post-run party is worth a visit. Entry includes gear check, rinse-off stations, and one free beer. There are two water stations on the course. Plus, you get a fuzzy Viking helmet which will become a surprisingly versatile addition to your wardrobe and looks really cool while you’re eating a turkey leg.
Parking: $10 on site
4. Dirty Girl Mud Run, May 30
Supporting breast cancers research and awareness, the Dirty Girl Mud Run is specifically designed for the ladies. They even set aside 300 complimentary spots for cancer survivors.
But that doesn’t mean it’s soft. Eleven obstacles over the 5k course will require more than a little effort. And, as the name suggests, it won’t be short on opportunities to get good and muddy.
Rather than focusing on who finishes first, the untimed DGMR awards prizes for who has the most fun. Awards are given for the biggest team, most creative name, and best themed costume. Typical reward can be a case of wine, so it’s worth the extra effort.
Each entry fee includes a complimentary cocktail, access to an enclosed changing tent, and rinse-off station. Food and more drinks are available at the post-run party.
5. Rugged Maniac, May 16
Taking advantage of the wide open spaces at a professional drag-race track makes for a unique experience among North Carolina mud runs. And the Rugged Maniac uses every inch, packing 25 obstacles into the 5k course.
Rugged Maniac competitors will surmount towers of shipping containers, crawl through underground tunnels, and shoot a 50 foot waterslide before crossing the finish line and enjoying their complimentary craft beer.
Unlike some co-ed races, which tend to be male dominated, the Rugged Maniac is split evenly between men and women runners, says Rob Dickens, COO of Rugged Races. “This makes for a much livelier festival atmosphere,” he says.
While the obstacle-filled race is worth the hour-and-a-half drive from Charlotte, it’s that after party atmosphere that suggests Saturday night accommodations might be in order. Those not too wrecked after the run will find a foam pit, adult bounce house, and mechanical bull waiting along with beers from Harpoon Brewing.
Participants can make this one as competitive as they like by choosing to be professionally timed, or not, when registering. There will be awards for top finishers in several categories.
Parking: $10 on site
Some tips for your first mud run:
- Bring more towels than you think you’ll need.
- Have a garbage bag ready for muddy clothes.
- Don’t forget a full set of clean clothes to change into.
- If you’re not planning to rock the full body mudpack all day, bring a gallon of water and some body wipes. Most events have rinse off stations but the lines can be really long and the water really cold. Oh, and leaving the water in the warmest part of the car = warm shower. You’re welcome.
- Bring plenty of cash for parking, food, turkey legs, bribing officials, etc.
- Bring your I.D.—it’s usually required to get your race packet
- Have a bag with post-run essentials. Most races have a bag check and sometimes the trek back to your car is longer than the race
- And for the love of Pete get to the race an hour before your start time. There’s nothing worse than pulling a hammy racing to the start line.