Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DragonCon: A Beginners Guide and Checklist (Updated for 2012)

Below is advice I've collected from many friends, blogs, and my experiences over the past few years at Dragon*Con. Feel free to let me know if I missed something.

Things to bring:
  1. A Lanyard or some type of rope/necklace to hang your badge from. The badges only come with a clamp clip by default and those are easy to get knocked off. You lose your badge and you're toast and out another $100 for a new one.
  2. Backpack or Messenger Bag - You WILL find something you want to purchase
  3. Camera - Trust me, you'll need one
  4. Extra Camera batteries and memory cards - See #2
  5. Money - Walk of Fame Celeb autographs go from $35-$50 which includes the Glossy 8x10 photo you pick for them to sign.  This is in addition to all the incredible art you will find in Artist Alley.  This is your chance to get some original pieces directly from the creators.  
  6. Manila or Plastic Folders - to store autographed photos in while inside your Backpack
  7. 8x10 photos of any celebs you REALLY want to meet in case you bump into them walking around - Most will sign something for free in that situation but be brief, quick, and try not to cause a scene. The last thing they want is a huge crowd pouncing on them when they were just taking a break from a panel or something. NOTE: It is not necessary to have these for people on the Walk of Fame, they'll have many to choose from and its included in the signing fee.
  8. Cellphone/iPhone/Laptop/Camera charger plugs - when you take a break to sit and People Watch you will want to use the time wisely and feed your devices. The last thing you want is to meet your favorite celeb for an impromptu photo op and have your device die on you.
  9. Costume - DragonCon welcomes ALL types of cosplayers, if you feel like it then go for it. There will be all types of costumes from cardboard and duct tape to high end professional looking stuff.  
  10. Bottled Water - The Con has water stations all around but plastic cups are sometimes AWOL (Thanks Stephen)
Things to do:
  1. The Parade - The Parade is one of the biggest events you'll find. It is usually at 10a on Saturday but always check the schedule to be sure.  Hundreds of cosplayers braving the Georgia Heat and Humidity to march and display their costumes.  You'll see full Stormtrooper brigades, a Spartan Army, Zombies, Predators, and more Super Heroes than you can count.  NOTE: If you have seen the parade before and not too interested in being in the heat THIS is the time to hit the Walk of Fame.  Many celebrities that have insanely long lines have no lines at all due to everyone being at the parade.  
  2. See Celebrities (Walk of Fame) - Many celebrities from all eras of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, shows and films show up to this Con. They do autographs in the Walk of Fame (Hilton) and are there to hang out and interact with their fans.  It is not uncommon to see them walking around from place to place.  There is no fee to just meet them but if you want an autograph it'll cost you anywhere from $25 to $75+ depending on the celeb with the average price for last year (2011) being $40. 
  3. Panels Panels Panels - Once the schedule is posted (probably in a few days) you can check it for a Panel of your favorite show, celebrity, writer, or group.
  4. Gaming - There are groups that meet to play various different games from D&D to CCG to whatever strikes their fancy
  5. Book Signings - many authors will be present to sign their books for you. Some have copies for sale but you'd be better off planning ahead and taking a copy with you just to be sure.
  6. Meetups and Tweetups - If you're not on Twitter you're missing out on a valuable tool for knowing about gatherings and events that celebs decide to do at the last minute. Many of the Dragon*Con attendees or their followers are on Twitter and may post up something like "I'm hanging out at the Hilton Bar for the next 30minutes if anyone wants to come hang" Some Meetups are planned in advance and may require a fan club ticket or something so check the schedule and get on Twitter and get it on your phone so you can stay up to date.
  7. Parties - Some groups host parties for their user base. Some are private Invitation Only events and others are just open to whoever hears about them. There is always a party going on somewhere at Dragon*Con. and are having a Party at 1p Saturday the 4th in the main lobby of the Hilton to the left of the Concierge Desk. Marian Call will be playing a set for us so definitely get this one on your TO DO list.
  8. Shop - The Dealer Room is FULL of both easy and hard to find props, shirts, comic books, art, clothing, and anything else you can imagine. If you are a collector this is your Graceland. If you are looking for a little something to put on your desk then you can find it here too. Some Dealers put their stuff on sale Monday so they have less to carry/ship home. Don't count on it but sometimes it happens.
  9. People Watch - you will do TONS of this whether you want to or not. You won't be able to help yourself. When you're taking a break just find a good seat and enjoy the show.
  10. ENJOY YOURSELF - No matter what your job/position/status/etc in life you'll fit in at Dragon*Con.  Have a great time and meet all sorts of new and interesting people.
Where to hang out:
  1. The Sheraton host many panels and events and is the main location for badge purchase and pick up so not a lot of hanging out goes on there.
  2. The Marriott Marquis is the main central point of Dragon*Con. On Friday and Saturday nights this is the place you want to be. It will get CRAZY crowded as the night wears on so if you plan on hanging out for a long time and you find a seat NEVER leave it unless someone holds it for you. Seats near a plug are GOLD and you should acquire them and guard them as best you can.
  3. The Hilton is where the Walk of Fame is. This is your autograph for a fee location. Lines are plainly marked on the floor with tape so stick to the line you are in so you don't get some fan boy frothing mad at you for cutting. The longer the line, the bigger the star. I found last year that at the beginning of his allotted time, Joe Flanigan's (Stargate Atlantis) Line was long, like out the door long so I skipped it. After making a few rounds and getting other autographs the line was down to 8-10 people and I got right in. Patience and Timing are key.
  4. The Hyatt is where you find the Artist Alley and Art sections. This is where your favorite webcomic artist, comic book artist, or artist in general will be set up. In the area outside the Artist Alley you will find many good photo ops of costumes and groups setup that do some serious cosplay.
  5. The Westin has been slowly becoming the Browncoat and Steampunk event/panel hotel over the past few years.  Look for those type of panels and events here but always refer to the published schedule to be sure.
  • NOTE: The Hyatt in the past has pulled out some draconian "fire hazard" rules and has goons walking around to get in the way and stop you from taking pictures in their Main Lobby in the evenings. If you happen to be going through their Main Lobby and see a good photo op, be incredibly fast or they goon squad will show up and pull their power trip on you.
  • NOTE: Panels and Events take place in all of the 5 major Host Hotels, the above list is just for general info of what else you'll find at each
What to Expect:
  1. A visual treat you won't ever forget.
  2. Crowds - LOTS of crowds
  3. Good ol Georgia Heat and Humidity.  If you venture outside be warned.  Heat will hold you down while Humidity beats you to death.  
  4. Costumes of all shapes, sizes, and topics. Some people get VERY creative with skills that rival Hollywood as well as people that spawn thoughts of OMGWTFBBQ MY EYES!!!!
  5. Lines - the more famous or currently "hot or in trend" the celeb, the longer their line will be. Count on getting in line an hour (or hours) before a particular even if you want to be sure to get in. EX: if you want to hear an Adam Savage talk you better be in line 2-3 hours ahead of time. In 2010 I went an hour ahead and the line was already wrapped around a full city block. Only 1/3 of those in line would actually fit in the auditorium so I had to skip it.
  6. Meeting new and interesting people
  7. If you are in costume people will want to take a picture of you. If you have a "squire" to take the picture for them so they can be in the photo it makes people happy. Squires also come in handy for holding said necessary gear. (Thanks Stephen)
Cell/iPhone Battery Saving Tips:
  1. Turn off WiFi - odds are you won't be in range anyway and if you are so are 20,000 other people
  2. Turn off Bluetooth - unless you're using it it's just a battery sucker
  3. Turn off 3G and use Edge - face it, the cell network is going to be HAMMERED during the con. 50,000 people in such a small area always saturates the cell network. You're not going to get 3G speeds anyway.
  4. Stick to text messages to stay in touch - repeatedly trying to make a call that doesn't connect just pushes your battery closer and closer to death with each attempt. Text messages are short burst and will often get through just fine even when the network is clogged or sluggish. They just queue up and send when they can.
Avoiding ConCrud:

You know what I'm talking about. You're in closed spaces with 50,000 other people, many with questionable personal hygiene habits or a complete lack there of. You're GOING to be exposed to someone else's germs that should have stayed home but Noooo, they toughed it out to avoid missing the Con and showed up with a raging fever and illness. A few days after the Con you start to feel the scratchy throat, followed by a headache or runny nose and then BOOM! ConCrud sets up residence in your body for a few days making you wish you could find the specific person that triggered it and flail them to death with their own severed limbs. If you could just get out of bed that is.

To battle and hopefully precent this you'll want:
  1. Hand Sanitizer - Face it, you'll be touching all sorts of handrails, doors, and elevator buttons that you have no clue what might be on from a previous touch. Use it regularly.
  2. Multivitamins/Vitamin C/Zinc - whatever your preference, dose up on your preventative medication of choice starting a week before the Con so you have a good base built up and maintain that regimen throughout the Con.
  3. HYDRATE!!!! - As mentioned many times above. STAY HYDRATED! It helps your body flush out all that unwashed geek germy crud thats floating around.
  4. Take regular showers - wash off all the germs as often as you can. If you're heading back to the room to drop off some Art or a purchase or just changing costumes, take a quick shower and rinse off the funk. (I know, this isn't an alien concept to most people but after going to a few Cons you too will realize its never advice that is followed by all)

Friday, March 9, 2012

How Syfy (or another Network) can save Terra Nova

Well, as expected, FOX decided to cancel yet another good Sci-Fi show. No specific reason was given. People involved with the show said it made money so the only valid reason left is that it didn't make ENOUGH money to satisfy the greedy network execs.

It is a known fact that Terra Nova is an expensive show to make. Dinosaur CGI isn't cheap. Especially after Jurassic Park set the DinoCGI bar way up into the stratosphere. In addition to the Dinosaurs the citizens of Terra Nova took their high tech gadgets with them. Holographic heads-up displays and interfaces in all the labs makes just panning through Medical a Post-Production expense heavy scene. For all the expense incurred on those fronts they definitely saved money elsewhere. Some of the weapons used in the show are just Nerf guns painted to look real. The vehicles were seriously low-tech looking and at first glance looked more like something you'd throw together for a Mad Max reunion. They didn't look bad, just not "expensive" so I'm filing them under the "didn't cost too much" category. Besides the standard wardrobe for the citizens the military garb is also recycled from other shows and very low tech.

Taking all of this into account you end up with the conclusion that if they could reduce DinoCGI and holographic heads-up displays and interfaces then the cost of the show could also be reduced. The writers, unknowingly, gave us the answer with the cumulation of Season One's main plotline. .
SPOILER ALERT: If you've not watched the show and plan to do so you might want to stop reading now.
The writers unknowingly solved part of the "expensive to make" problem at the end of the season. They blew up the "bridge". The link between the Future and the Past was destroyed. This means no more pilgrimages, no more tech, no more supplies, no more anything, period. The colonist are officially on their own. They are now in the ultimate situation of survival. They have to conserve at all cost. This would naturally mean an immediate cease and desist on using any technology that had an expendable power source. Energy consumption would need to be reduced to maximize the lifetime of the devices in question. There are no replacements coming. Ever.

So how does this make the show cheaper? Simple. No more expensive panning shots in Medical. They used all their tech every day because they had it. As shown in the episode "Nightfall" (with the pulse that wiped out the technology chips) they could revert to Frontier Medicine except for live threatening situations and even then it doesn't need to be on camera for long. The focus of the story could shift to survival. Less indoor time and more outdoor time. Less high-tech, more frontier medicine based on what they studied or ran test on "the night before" aka "off camera".

But what about the DinoCGI problem? That too is simple. Less dinos. As we've already seen in episodes they can present the threat of a dino without actually showing it. Save any DinoCGI for major plot line issues or cliffhangers. Just use sound effects to set the mood when necessary and just elude to the fact that the dinos are there. The teased plot for Season Two is "WTF is in the Badlands and WhyTF did the bad guys make a bee line for it when they lost". Besides a little dino interaction randomly for effect, a good portion of Season Two could center around the tracking of the bad guys and the quest for what is in the Badlands.

With these simple modifications to production the show could save a good bit of money which would allow another network to save the show.

Another cost saving idea is shorter seasons. Terra Nova Season One was only 13 episodes long with the first and last being 2 parters. TV Shows don't have to shoot for 20 episodes any longer. Focus on a quality story and do shorter seasons and you have a good model for success. Do MORE shows of 10-12 episodes like this and instead of trying to glue people to the TV for a single 20 episode season. A network can gain fans and viewers by having shorter shows that survive rather than longer, more expensive seasons that end up getting cancelled.

I hope another network does decide to pick up Terra Nova. This was one of the shows we watched every week as a family. We all loved it even with the critiques others have thrown at it. Logan cried when he found out it got cancelled. For this reason alone, if I ever meet a Fox Network Exec, I will punch them in the throat. I would say I'd kick him in the nuts but those are already reserved for canceling Firefly and I aim to misbehave should the situation every present itself ;)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Zombie Run 5K 2012

This was the Inaugural Zombie Run 5K for Georgia and the first Zombie Run of the 2012 season. Being the first year of an event (here in Georgia) it had some complications and areas for improvement but overall was a very fun and enjoyable event.

The location wasn't too far to get to and there was plenty of parking available. The line to get in and park moved at a decent pace and, providing you listened to the arrival instructions and got there 1-2 hours early, you weren't delayed in getting to the Check-In area. Parking was $10 which is typical and expected. There were more than enough signs to remind people to "Get out your wallet!", "Take out $10","Roll down your window!" etc... The guys handling the money and parking kept things moving right along very efficiently.

Once we parked we had a few hundred yard walk to the Check-In area. I was expecting mud on the course but not 3-4inch deep mud covering every square inch of the Check-In and Spectator areas. This was incredibly annoying. From you minute you entered the gate you were constantly under the threat of slipping and busting your ass. Not to mention all the spectators that showed up to "watch" and had no plans to get muddy. I saw countless outfits and shoes ruined by all the mud. The mud was no big deal for those of us that showed up prepared to get filthy but this area shouldn't be your first Obstacle. It is my hope that next years event corrects this problem. The mud should start at the Starting Line and not before. It should definitely not be all over the Spectator Area. Granted we did have a serious storm the night before so the entire area did get a deluge of fresh rain and minor flooding. Still, that was some serious mud for a Spectator area.

The Check-In area, besides being muddy beyond belief, was rather poorly run. Lines were long for some last names and non-existent for others. My line was only 5 people deep including myself and Jessica and it still took far longer than it should to get our packets. Part of the problem was that the Staff was having to fight to stay upright on all the slippery mud just like the rest of us were. The race shirts were still in boxes near the back of the tent nowhere near the tables requiring a walk back and forth or a yelling for a particular size then a wait for it to be brought over. So much time was wasted just waiting for the shirt and bag with race info. Besides getting this area away from the mud next year I hope the race organizers separate the race packet hand out and shirt pick up if they don't figure out a way to speed up the combined process. It would also benefit them to have extra safety pins available, I had a broken one and it was damn near impossible to get someones attention to get a replacement.

The start was creatively set up into 3 lanes. Appetizers (<9min/mi), Entrees (9-12min/mi), and Dessert (>12min/mi). I found this to be a brilliant idea that other events should look to adopt. I've run in many adventure races and the bottlenecks that occur are usually because too many "Desserts" are in the front of the pack when they shouldn't be. I'm no "Appetizer" but I'm not a "Dessert" either. I don't fault anyone for doing these events no matter how fast or slow you run but if you're a "Dessert" you don't need to be at the head of the corral when your wave starts. You just cause bottlenecks and injuries as faster people try to weave around you. The 3 different corrals utilized by the Zombie Run still requires honesty on the runners part but at least they are trying.

The course was muddy, seriously muddy. I'm talking so muddy that you could barely run without gravity showing you who your daddy was. THUD! SPLAT! There were times when you could get a slow jog in but those were few and far in between. The previous nights monsoon of a storm didn't help matters any. I feel this course was overly muddy and hazardous at times because of it. I was nursing a bruised and twisted left ankle so I wasn't moving at a record setting pace anyway but all the mud made matters 1000x worse. There isn't much the organizers could do about this. I'm sure the course was planned to be muddy and nobody could have predicted the effects of the previous nights storm. I just hope next year that we don't get that monsoon and the course is only muddy in the areas where it should be and not every single step of the way. If we had a dry week prior to this I'm sure many of the flats and hills would have been much more manageable while the obstacles and low parts would remain muddy as intended. We'll see next year I guess.

What would a Zombie Run be without Zombies right? The course was littered with them. There were batches every so often with "breaks" in between to let people catch their breath or slow down for a bit. At obstacles requiring you to crawl over/under/through they had a few Zombies either in the obstacle or just after. When you came upon them on the path they were spaced out so you usually only had to dodge one at a time but sometimes they'd team up. It was times like this when it paid to be in a larger group. Like penguins on the edge of the iceberg we'd wait until someone made a move to draw them off and then the pack would break away and haul ass. Some people, many actually, would slip in the mud and become another distraction for the Zombies. Sometimes it was the Zombie that would slip and fall giving us all a window to get through. It was all good fun. Jessica lost her flags earlier on and decided to be my meat shield for the remainder of the race. It worked out pretty well and I finished "Alive" with 2 flags.
My only problem with the Zombies started near the end of the course. The rules stated that we were not allowed to touch or knock down the Zombies and they weren't allowed to touch or knock us down. They were only allowed to grab for our flags (1 on each hip and 1 mid-back). If you lost all your flags then you were "Dead" at the end of the course. If you had any left you were "Alive". I saw many Zombies, usually guys, deliberately take runners down hard. These weren't accidental slip and falls, these were deliberate body check and tackle moves. One kid got grabbed around the neck and thrown to the ground. These Zombies were clearly violating the rules and they didn't care. As I got closer and closer to the end of the course the attempts to throw or knock me to the ground increased. Zombies wouldn't just grab for my flags, they'd grab onto the belt holding the flags and then yank to try and throw me down. Near the end of the course I was no longer dodging Zombies that got in my way. THEY got into MY path so they were fair game for a body check and I did knock a few down. If the organizers want to push codes of conduct onto the runners they need to make sure their staff of Zombies adhere to the same code. This batch of Zombies definitely didn't get the memo about contact.

When we reached the end of the course we were split into 2 paths. Dead or Alive. The only difference is that the Alive line crossed another timing pad to register your time. I guess if you were Dead then they didn't care what your course time was. The paths converged again right after the Alive timing pad and everyone got the same award medal. I think there should be separate medals for each path. It doesn't make sense to track who made it if everyone gets the same medal.

After we got our medal the line began for the "Decontamination" Showers. Basically it was a PVC construction with holes drilled in it at stages up on a platform of pallets. The "showers" were piss trickles at best and quite ineffective. You'd have to stand there for an hour to get clean. Add to this the fact that there wasn't nearly enough room to accomodate the masses. It was a single setup about 12' across by 6' deep. You could fit maybe 16-20 people at a time up on the platform and that didn't leave any room to try and scrub mud off of yourself without elbowing someone behind or next to you. Most people just gave up after trying in vain to get clean. Next year I hope they have a wider "decontamination" area and more "shower" outputs with stronger force.

Getting into clean, dry clothes after the run felt great and definitely got you warm again but if you were planning on hanging out at the After Party it was an exercise in futility. You were going to get muddy all over again if you spent any time in the Spectator Area. The Entertainment selection wasn't bad. Sure you can't please everyone with a music selection but the MC running the show was friendly, engaging, and energetic at all times. He engaged the crowd and kept the mood upbeat even when it was pouring rain. He and the bands did a great job.

The food and beer selection at the After Party was the best selection by far of any event I've every participated in. ShockTop was on Tap and so so yummy. They had 2lb Turkey Legs that were incredibly flavorful (even better than the ones at the Ga RenFest), and they had menu items for Vegetarian and Vegan runners. This part totally surprised and impressed me. It's about time an event consider EVERY persons eating habits instead of just us carnivores. Having a vegetarian option was a nice bonus for Jessica. The Veggie Burrito she got was damn tasty too.

Overall, for a first year event, I'm considering the Run For Your Lives Zombie Run 5K a Success. I am hoping for a survey to be sent out so I can provide my feedback directly. In the mean time I'll just hope the organizers see this post and consider my feedback for next year and future events.

TL:DR - Zombie Run was a really good, fun time and I'll definitely do it again next year. It's got room for improvement but what event doesn't?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tough Mudder Georgia 2012

"Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, half a million inspiring participants, and more than $2 million dollars raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world."

This year was my second time running in Tough Mudder and let me say, it was quite different from last year. Last year it was held in early March and for some reason they moved it up this year to early February. Of course we have been having an abnormally warm winter right up to the day before the event when temperatures plummeted and the wind decided to show up with a vengeance. While it was warm when the Sun was out the wind pretty much negated that benefit. Add to that the water and ice we were tromping through and it made for a rather painfully cold day. The temps were in the low 40's but wind chill and being wet took the "feels like" temp down to the low 30's.


Team Twinkle Pony represented but due to a vehicle breakdown started in 2 separate waves. I ran with Abel and Elizabeth who both have the patience of a saint. They stopped repeatedly along the course to wait for me to catch up again and again. Why? On the first obstacle "Devil's Gaps" I took a rough tumble and landed sideways on my left ankle twisting it badly. Those of you that know me know that me twisting an ankle is nothing new so I trudged on with just a slight limp once the pain subsided. It wasn't until later on before the end of Mile 2 that I twisted it again on a slippery patch of mud. This time I felt and could swear I heard the crunch. It was bloody painful beyond words. I stopped and just hung onto a tree to balance myself for a few min and then, slowly and with a more pronounced limp, kept going. Many fellow Mudders stopped to make sure I was OK and didn't need any assistance. That's one of the things I like about events like Tough Mudder. It's not about time or me first, it's about having fun and helping others complete the course when they need help. Some obstacles require teamwork while others can be done solo with just the encouragement of the Mudders around you. It's all just a massive group of people working together to get to the Finish.


This year's event was at a much better venue than last year. For one, it wasn't a dry county so we could actually have Beer at the Finish. That part SUCKED last year. This year's venue was also much flatter than the mountainous terrain of last year. This made for a much faster trip through the course with less fatigue which was a real bonus. Some of the hills last year were meant to only be climbed with off road vehicles, running them on foot was a pain. While this year's location was flatter and appeared more spectator friendly it wasn't fully. The course spanned 2 open areas that had a large wooded zone between them that prevented spectators from getting from one zone to the other without a huge out and back again walking path. Because of this Jessica missed many opportunities to photograph us at the obstacles. There is a whole batch of obstacles where she lost us due to the long walk between zones. Luckily she found us again near the end because we really needed the supplies she and Logan were carrying for us.


This year had the usual repeat obstacles with the addition of a few new ones. Funky Monkey was there as was Hold Your Wood, Walk The Plank, Twinkle Toes, Boa Constrictor, Spiders Web, and the Berlin Walls (taller this year) but we had some new obstacles to conquer. Devil's Gaps, Arctic Enema, King of the Mountain, Trench Warfare, a second set of Boa Constrictor, Log Jammin, Electric Eel, Hanging Tough, Dong Dangler, and Everest were all new obstacles for Georgia this year. I liked some of the new obstacles and hated others. My hatred of them wasn't their difficulty, it was more the lack of thought put into them.
Electric Eel was rather pointless to me, it wasn't muddy, it wasn't difficult, it was just a reason to wet us down and make us crawl through dangling electric fence wires. It was sadistic and nothing else. I won't miss this one if it disappears in the future.
Hanging Tough was great in concept but poorly planned out. It had too few lanes to accomodate the flood of people coming through the event. When we arrived the Tough Mudder Staff had a guy on a bullhorn telling people it was a long (30min+) wait and it was OK to skip it. We did because waiting in the howling wind freezing for 30min would have pretty much knocked us out of the rest of the course due to our muscles seizing up. This event should have been much wider, with more lanes, and not as long across.
Dong Dangler was about the lamest "obstacle" of the day. It was basically just a walk through waist deep water holding onto a rope. If it was meant to be crossed differently there were no signs or Staff around to explain it.
Trench Warfare was just us crawling through a tunnel that twisted and turned a little bit, nothing difficult about it. No water, little mud, and not much effort required.
Everest looked awesome but if you didn't have people already on the top it was incredibly difficult if not impossible. The addition of a water trench right in front of it to muddy up the area didn't help either. I heard there were Staff at the top helping for a bit but I guess they go too cold because when we arrived there wasn't a soul on the top and nobody was having any luck getting up it. Hypothermia was beginning to set in at this point so we skipped this one.
Electroshock Therapy is always the final obstacle and a terrifying yet thrilling obstacle to dash though. This year though, some genius decided to lengthen it and add rows of hay bales to hop over. Add to this the fact that it was set up in a heavy mud zone and you have many unnecessary injuries and shocks. I saw at least 2 or 3 guys run through, trip and get zapped only to land and get zapped again and again and again until spectators or some other runner pulled them out. The hay bales were a mistake and shouldn't have been added.

Other than these critiques of the new obstacles everything else was excellent Tough Mudder grade fun.


Once we finished we discovered they had greatly improved the finish line support area from last year. We got Water, Juice, Fruit, Cliff Bar, our Shirt, an Emergency Blanket to wrap up in and then our much earned Beer. Last year we got a Cliff Bar, Water, and NO BEER. They had plenty of fire barrels all around the area to huddle around and warm up which helped but was no substitute for just getting into dry clothes and getting the heat cranked up in the car. We didn't hang out long at the after party but it seemed like others were enjoying it. The cold wind really impacted people's desire to stick around I think.

Most people wonder why I participate in such crazy events. To be honest I don't really have an answer besides It's Fun! It's something that I never thought I'd do and now I'm doing it annually in addition to doing copy-cat smaller events like Warrior Dash, Zombie Run, Spartan Race, etc... It's an opportunity to play in the mud again and just have a great time with family and friends.

Plus there is beer at the end. :)