Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Urban Mudder NYC recap

Urban Mudder NYC

Brian and I took part in the inaugural Urban Mudder event this past weekend at Randall's island. For those of you that have never heard of it, Urban Mudder is put on by the same folks as Tough Mudder, except it is only 5 miles, has different obstacles, and has NO MUD. I'm a huge fan of doing obstacles, but not a huge fan of always have to do them in mud and ruining my clothes and sneakers (or getting mud in the unmentionable places...) So when I saw the mudless Urban Mudder advertised with some of the most innovative obstacles I had ever seen, I was sold.

Here’s our GoPro footage of the event, both first and third person POV, and subsequent event recap below:

The event location proved to be a royal pain in the ass for these 2 New Jersey participants. Randall's island, as I found out after the fact, is an island located across from Harlem and the Harlem River in NYC, with no ferry and no parking on the island for this event. Urban Mudder did offer transportation from grand central station for a fee, but that would have added an additional hour to our already hour long commute. So, Brian and I planned to just park right in Harlem and walk our butts over the 103rd street footbridge to the Island. We were unfamiliar with the area and honestly were slightly worried our car wouldn’t be there when we got back…

As it turns out, like is usually the case, my fears were unfounded. There was a minor blooper where Brian and I almost walked directly into a project whilst looking for the entrance to the foot bridge, but a nice police officer saw us and immediately pointed us in the right direction without us even having to say a word really. (We must have been a few of many people looking out of place that day in search of the bridge haha)

We arrived safely about 1.5 hours before our start time of 12:45, checked in smoothly, and got in line for the warm up/start. Now, Urban Mudder, if your reading this, you are well aware of what I'm about to say next, as I'm sure you've heard it 1,000 times by now. We waited in line OVER an hour to start. It is somewhat expected to have some bumps in the road at inaugural events, but the 88 degree sun baking everyone in line made for some unhappy people. (Nothing that can't be fixed for future races though I'm sure.)

urban mudder NYC
We were just trying to get to this in reasonable time!

Once we started, we ran about .25 mile over a few barricades and around a track, then got in line for the second obstacle, called Head Rush, where we would wait another 40 minutes to attempt it. Many people just ran past it but since I paid good money for these obstacles I was damn well gonna try every single one. And, adding insult to injury, according to race volunteers, this obstacle is impossible for anyone shorter than 5’5. I'm only 5'0 so it wasn't looking good for me.  I attempted it anyway (facing the opposite way, as instructed) and managed to get the full halfway across before the poles became too far apart.

Urban Mudder head rush obstacle
Head Rush Obstacle

I'm pretty sure the water at the bottom of this obstacle was taken directly out of the Harlem River as it stunk…Luckily, I managed to only put one foot in it, since I stepped down from the poles and didn't fall in. To the girl in the video that face planted into that water right at the start of the obstacle.... I hope you kept your mouth closed and are doing ok today! Ironically, despite all this, I actually really enjoyed this obstacle. Urban Mudder - just make one of the sections a little closer together for us short people, and it would be hands down one of the best on the course.

So, what I described above was the worst of it, as the rest of the obstacles were a lot of fun and the congestion eased up as everything was spread out more over the remaining 5 or so miles. 

Heavy Metal (Pole Carry) - this was just challenging enough with some added difficulty in the form of carrying it over and under walls. 

6 feet over - this consists of running and jumping onto a huge inflatable black obstacle with ropes hanging off of it.The concept was good, but a shiny black inflatable obstacle directly in the sun on one of the hottest days of the year, not so much. Anyone wearing shorts that day can feel my pain on this, it burned! 

The close shave (spinning beam obstacle) was one of my favorites. I at first tried to go slowly but started to lose my balance, so I regrouped and just went for it in an all out sprint, which I found much easier.

Second Avenue Subway was just a piggyback ride...

urban mudder second avenue subway obstacle
Second Avenue Subway

Under Pressure was like a barbed wire crawl, without actual barbed wire or mud.

urban mudder under pressure obstacle
Under Pressure

The laser minefield was a fun idea, except both Brian and I didn't give our eyes time to adjust from the sun and immediately hit lasers because we couldn't see them that well. 

On the fence - I was expecting actual fences, but they were regular race walls, which was probably more challenging. To the random guy that lent me a helping hand on the second wall (short people problems), thank you, you're awesome!

Ape Shit (monkey bars) and  Rock and a Hard place (spider climb between 2 walls) did have some long lines, but at that time of day it was to be expected and with the heat of the day, the running break was welcomed.

urban mudder ape shit obstacle
Ape Shit
Urban mudder rock and a hard place obstacle
Rock and a Hard place
Trapeze - There wasn't one. I could have sworn this was on the original advertisement. However, now when I  look back at the website, I don't see any mention of one. Either I'm going crazy or a very clever disappearing act has occurred. 

The grand finale - the rooftop series, was both challenging and fear inducing. Folks, I busted my ass on this obstacle in an epic fall.  Since i'm a good sport, you can watch it on the last minute of the video above... I even added sound effects...

Basically, I gave the 6 foot gap a running jump and just went wayyyyy too hard, resulting in a crash landing. It was sorta embarrassing as the landing was so loud everyone stopped what they were doing to look at me... I quickly jumped up and yelled "I'm ok" , having only bruised my knee and skinned my shin.. Then, the rising balance beam and final jump off the side of the building to the finish was probably one of the better obstacles I have encountered at an OCR event.

Once we finished, we had to make our way to the medical tent for the first time ever at an event. Brian got some rope burn on 6 feet over on his hands, which ripped opened pretty good after the monkey bars. (Don't worry, he's totally fine now and the cuts are healing.) Then we hung around for a bit for our free shock top beer and some pizza at the food truck

urban mudder nyc
Swag - Having yet to do a regular Tough Mudder, I was excited to finally earn a headband here. The socks are also awesome. The shirt didn't come in women's sizes, something that maybe could be improved for next time?
urban mudder race swag shirt socks headband

Would we do this event again? Yes

Again, even though the organization at the beginning of the event was lacking, that is somewhat to be expected at an inaugural event as they work out the logistics and obstacle placement for future races. (Urban Mudder, here's a hint - have us run the first mile, then dive into the obstacles. Move head rush to later in the event.) There also is an opportunity to add a few more obstacles over a 5 mile course, but overall I think this is the obstacle race of the future as people start to get bored with mud but still want to challenge themselves and complete obstacles.


  1. Sounds like fun, but ugh to having to wait to do the events! I've never done an obstacle course, heck, I trip over the sidewalks, so I'm afraid of getting hurt.

    1. That wait for this particular one was excessive! I'm really clumsy too (hence why I fell on the last obstacle.. haha) The risk of injury is definitely real! For me personally, I like to think I know my limitations and if I think I am not trained enough to safely complete a certain obstacle, I go around it, which hopefully minimizes risk. If you ever change your mind, the Spartan stadium sprint is a good one to try - no mud and crossfit type obstacles ( think jump rope, slam ball, burpess, etc.) Have a great week!

  2. Sounds like a fun event minus the waiting and man's size shirt! I'm not a huge fan of mud either so that's a plus.

    1. The shirt thing is a pet peeve of mine. The men's sizes look like dresses on me haha. Have a great week!

  3. I've always wanted to try one of these -- thanks for the the video and review!

    1. You should give one of them a try! They are a lot of fun, as long as you go for the obstacles and don't worry about your time or trying to race. Have a great weekend!

  4. I hadn't heard of this race before, but it sounds like crazy hardcore fun!
    Those hands made me cringe, but shows how tough it is. Cute bandaid though:)
    That would have been hard to wait around in the heat for an hour before starting though, thats too bad that portion of the race couldn't have got you guys going a bit sooner!

    1. It was a lot of fun despite the wait. Hopefully they could figure that all out for the next event. In fairness, Brian already had callouses from rock climbing, the event just aggravated them a bit.... Isn't it strange that the medical tent was giving out those bandaids? hah!

  5. Sounds fun but I too wouldn't have liked waiting so long especially in the heat! Great job trying every obstacle!

    1. Thanks Sharon! The obstacle part was really fun, the waiting part not so much. Have a great weekend!


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