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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Truth in advertising (contemplating the Uff Da mud run)

I found myself getting pretty riled up the other day when I saw an ad on facebook for a mudman run in fargo.  it wasn't that there was another mud run in a city that might compete with our planned event, the Uff Da mud run (coming to Grand Forks in Sept. of 2013), or even that their winter obstacle run is called the Iceman (although that did irk me a little bit).  No, what got me is the following (unfortunatley all to typical) rhetoric right on the home page of their website -

WELCOME TO THE MOST EXTREME OBSTACLE COURSE RACES IMAGINABLE!!
Unleash your inner beast and meet us for a day you won't forget!
Only after you've conquered fire, beaten gladiators, survived hills, climbed tire mountain, braved the ice and endured the mud will you know that you have what it takes!!
I'm going to borrow a term from my friend John Stuart and call Bull Sh*t here - there may even be a mountain of the stuff (maybe thats not mud they're going to make you crawl through?)

Obstacle races may be awesome.  They may be a super fun way to get out of your comfort zone.  They definitely provide GREAT facebook profile pic material. They might (although then again they might not) even feel harder for most folks than traditional running races of the same distance.  But are they really that tough?  Will they really test your mettle?  Is the hype really true?  Well, considering nearly 2500 people ran in Mudman's 2012 race, what do you think?

Well, i found myself asking the same questions.  I wondered.  So i did what i do when i wonder.  I googled.

the requisite fire jump
I found heaps of point of view videos (here's ONE) taken by athletes actually running these races - not only the 5K obstacle runs but also the apparently much more difficult longer ones like the Spartan Race and Tough Mudder.  Hmmm.  Yeah, the obstacles look pretty fun.  you're gonna get wet, muddy, have to climb over things, crawl through things, get tripped by 'gladiators', and sometimes even endure shock induced epileptic seizures.  And, i almost forgot, you also might have to jump over some fire.  Scary.  Sarcasm aside - they do look like a fun day out - a really fun day.  But lets be honest - they can't really be that tough.

Why?  well for one, they wouldn't be the money making machines they were if they were that tough.  Watch the videos.  There are often massive lines at obstacles (long waits means lots of rest!).  The atmosphere is super cool - great camaraderie but with the trade off that there isn't really much running going on (to be sure if you're trying to go really fast it's going to be super hard -  but simply trying to run a 5K by itself at top speed might lead to a bout of dry heaving).  Add to that the fact that in most races obstacles are optional and the 'extreme' adjective starts to seem better applied to the licenses taken by the obstacle racing industries marketing departments than to the events themselves:
Can I skip an obstacle?
Yes, you can.  However, not every obstacle needs to be skipped.  Only the obstacles that are extremely physically challenging can be skipped.  If you just don't like mud or are squeemish , too bad!  You signed up for Mudman!  Those that can be skipped may have a military recruit making you do a little extra work to get by it.  Remember, there are no free rides in life, and there isn't any at Mudman either.  Come ready to be challenged!  

So where does this leave us - especially considering that ENDracing is going to be part of team building one of these events in Grand Forks this coming year?  Well, for starters, we'll aim for a little truth in advertising.  Yeah - you can expect a tough event - at least as tough (if not tougher) than other 'big name' mud runs of the same distance.  But we're not going to lie to you and tell you that you're a super bad ass for finishing our course - there are lots of much, much harder races out there to finish (just look at our calendar and pick one).  You will have fun though, even tons of fun - and most of you will likely get pushed well out of your comfort zone.  And as for skipping obstacles?  Yep - our obstacles will be optional too - but with a twist.... finisher awards will reflect how many obstacles you skipped.

Did you get a bronze medal instead of a gold because you couldn't get through two of those obstacles? Awesome job - you pushed hard and only skipped two.  But get off your butt and start training earlier next year and see if you can go for the gold.

And don't worry - you'll still get to update your FB profile with that sweet picture of you crawling through the mud under strings of barbed wire (note, actual picture may vary).  Now that's truth in advertising.   


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Next Year...

Well folks - I've got at least one more good year in me I think.  I mean i may also have a couple of decades left in me, so don't start panicking or anything... what i'm trying to say is that i've decided to commit again to a full series of events in 2013 and see where it goes.  2012 was pretty exhausting as i tried to juggle some form of more 'normal' employment with the challenges of putting on five ENDracing events, one Ground UP adventures event, developing youth programming for GUP, slogging my way through the mountains of paperwork associated with getting non-profit status, having some good adventures myself, and maintaining a (mostly) happy and fulfilling relationship with my wife and two crazy boys.

I feel pretty good about what we as a community (and that includes all of you too!) have created and am going to continue to work towards making it something that is sustainable - for me as well as everyone else involved.  Here is a glimpse forward -

looks like we'll need a bigger poster next year...
  • Late Feb - END-IT (iceman triathlon), Grand Forks, ND
  • Mid March (tentative) - END-SURE (Sandhills ultra run experience - 50K) - NEW EVENT for 2013, still pending approval.  Fargo, ND
  • Late April - END-SPAR (spring primer adventure race, 6+ hour).  Turtle River State Park
  • Mid July - END-WET (watersports endurance test).  Grand Forks, ND
  • Late August - END-AR24 (24 hr adventure race).  Walhalla, ND
  • Sept (tentative) - Uff Da mud run (5K ENDracing style obstacle run) - NEW EVENT for 2013, still pending approval.  Grand Forks, ND
  • Mid/Late October - Double feature, END-TOMBED + END-TRAILS (twelve hour mountain bike plus 12 hour trail run) - the latter would be a NEW EVENT for 2013, and is still tentative pending logistical issues.  The idea is to offer a format similar to END-TOMBED but for running.  Special prizes/recognition would go to folks capable of reaching some mileage both days. Turtle River State Park
  • Late December/early Jan - END-WAR (winter adventure rogaine, 3-6 hour) - NEW EVENT FOR 2013, still tentative, location TBD. 
Our goals won't change - provide top quality, challenging events that force people out of their comfort zone.  Make them as affordable as possible by focusing only on what matters in creating good experiences and relying on our education during years as dirt-bag climbers to keep costs down.  We favor smaller intimate races over big ones, feeling that 'our' type of adventure is served by some level of solitude; and that the sort of camaraderie that builds lasting friendships and community is harder to find when there are thousands at the start line rather than hundreds, or even dozens.  If you came out and supported our efforts in 2012 and had a good time, rest assured you'll have a great time in 2013.

Cheers,
Andy

Monday, October 29, 2012

END-TOMBED results!

Lindsey Gauld, Zombie Male winner, on his way to victory at 2012 END-TOMBED - photo by Tara Kenny
See the Results HERE

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

GearJunkie's super racing girl challenge (@ END-TOMBED)

Chelsey Magness sporting her GearJunkie buff in Untamed New England, summer 2012.
Chelsey Magness, team GearJunkie.com/Yogaslackers pint-sized bundle of fury, is heading out from her home in Bend, Oregon, to participate in END-TOMBED.  She may be small, but she's not only gunning for the zombie women's podium, but the overall podium too.


GearJunkie.com is getting behind Chelsey by offering a custom GearJunkie Buff for any racer that can keep up with her for the whole 12 hours.

Nothing like racing with a big old target on your back,  right Chels?