Tri-State Tough Mudder Review

Pirate’s Booty

I took on the Tri-State Tough Mudder at Raceway Park in NJ this past weekend, and had a great time. I didn’t do much research on the event and didn’t really know what to expect. I checked out a few of the obstacles the week before and thought it could go either way. Some looked challenging while others looked routine. Tough Mudder bills itself as a “Hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” I think they hit the mark on some of these elements and missed on others. Overall, it was a fun race event with some great obstacles. Anyone who can run a few miles, should finish this course.

The Hits

The Event was very well organized. The parking was offsite, which sounds like a nightmare, but it was fine. We didn’t have to wait for buses on the way in or out. It was convenient, easy, and free (4 in a car). Registration was fast and efficient. The atmosphere inside was fun. Costume contest, band, mohawks, and all the usual pre-race goodies.

The course was well laid out, but I noticed there were signs that posted potential wait times of up to 30 minutes for some obstacles. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait more than a minute or two throughout the course.  This does signal, however, that the organizers see this as a potential problem, and that would be a deal breaker for me.  We started at 10am with several waves in front of us.  I wonder how the runners starting later in the day made out.

Arctic Enema

The obstacles were very well done and were more about overcoming fear than strength. Getting wet is not my thing, and many of the obstacles had you in cold water. The first obstacle of the day, Arctic Enema, required you to jump in a dumpster of ice water. It was a crazy situation that I never imagined myself in. If that ever happens in real life, you don’t have long to get out. It was quite a shock to the system.

Smoke Chute

One of my favorite obstacles, Smoke Chute, has you climb up to a platform maybe 15′ high where you have your own chute that resembles an air duct. You have to just jump in and trust that you won’t smash your head on the way down.  Of course, it dumps you out in a mud pond.

Two other highlights were Boa Constrictor and Trench Warfare.  Each feature crawling through tight spaces with rising water or complete darkness.  These was the only obstacle where I saw people bail once they got a close look.

The course was very unique. The Tri-State Mudder was at Raceway Park. It was cool to have a Monster truck lead us out, and to spend the afternoon on the dirt track without the dirt bike.

The Misses

Chain Gang

It’s a participation event. This may work for some people and I get that, but you can’t claim to be the “Toughest Event on the Planet” and not offer a competitive option. They could add a competitive wave for singles and teams. Imagine obstacles that require teamwork and strategy. Think log carry or river crossing. How would you get all 4 teammates over the 12′ wall? Could you get yourself over without any help? I understand this is where the camaraderie comes in, but I imagine most of the participants are competitive people and would like to compare themselves to the field.

Ladder to Hell

There wasn’t much of a strength component beyond the running. The rings and bars require some upper body and grip strength, but the climbing was fairly easy with knotted ropes and steps on the walls. Balance and fear of heights was more at play here. Most of the obstacles put you in unfamiliar situations but they aren’t overly difficult to complete.

If you are looking for a fun way to get dirty with your friends, you’ll love this event.  My complaints are mostly personal.  If you are a serious competitor looking for the toughest event on the planet, this probably isn’t for you. At $150, I’m not sure I need to do it again.


1 thought on “Tri-State Tough Mudder Review

  1. I did this run on Saturday in November 2011 and again in October 2012. I’m 44 and not a runner but finished the course in less than 3 hours in 2011 (we started at 11.30) and loved every minute of it. That year, it was 40 degrees out and windy – we were very cold but had the time of our lives and were super excited to sign up again for 2013. However, in 2013, TM added 50% more registrants and sent the waves out in 20 minute intervals (vs. 30 minutes the year before) – it took us over 5 hours to complete because of backups at obstacles. The weather was 20 degrees warmer but we still were shivering while waiting our turns. IMO, you need to start very early to avoid serious backups – the congestion on the course last year made for an entirely different atmosphere. In 2011, there were much less people but everyone acted as a team and helped individuals through obstacles all the time, 2012 was a nightmare where most everyone just seemed more interested in getting their turn through them and less interested in camaraderie. It was seriously less than half the fun the second year – as a side note, we considered Sunday instead (which is apparently far less congested and never sold out) but the big difference is the course is trashed and full of lost safety pins by then. Conclusion: TM has had it’s run. It’s for a good cause for sure but they have to limit the amount of people. They did add a Phila, PA event this year which may help but I will be looking at other mud runs I’m sorry to say.

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