Last Updated on January 22, 2022 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP, CSCS
When I received the invitation to come out and run the 2015 Boston Muckfest MS race, I absolutely knew I had to go. Sure, the weather is still painfully cold here in New England (especially when covered in cold mud and water), but a race with a tagline of “Built for Laughs” could not be missed. Muckfest MS is a Nation wide, entry level obstacle course race/mud run, designed to help raise awareness and funds for the National MS Society, who hopes to put an end to Multiple Sclerosis.
I’ve already read a handful of disappointed reviews for this race, and I’m going to have to say that I mostly disagree with them. If you show up to Muckfest looking for a brutal course with challenging obstacles, then you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you show up with the mindset that this obstacle course race was created to be a FUN fundraiser, designed for people of all fitness levels, then you will have a blast. We sure did.
Now, I love racing my heart and lungs out, but I also love introducing first timers to the crazy sport of obstacle course racing just as much. After Geoff and I registered for Muckfest, we put out an invitation to a few friends asking them to join us. We were excited when two of our friends Cynthia and Steve accepted the invite. They are no strangers to our shenanigans, so we knew they’d be up for the adventure.
Saturday morning we headed to Devens, Ma, the location of the 2015 Boston Muckfest. Parking was free and located less than 1/4 mile from the race venue. Geoff and I were both shocked at the size of the festival area as well as the number of participants and spectators milling around. This was a much larger race than we had initially anticipated. Registration was quick and painless, port-a-potties were plentiful, and bag check was free. Loud, fun music was playing and there were a number of activities going on in the festival area.
When it was time for our wave, we lined up in the corral and were entertained by a hilarious emcee. Or…did we provide him with the entertainment? He told us as our warmup, we would be taking part in “Muckfest yoga”, which essentially meant rolling around in the mud.
(side note: we had GoPro lens issues…as in mud or something got on the actual camera, not just the protective case. I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures in this post)
Though freezing cold, it was funny. By the time our 2:30 pm wave crossed the starting line, the clouds began rolling in, and the only saving grace of the cold, windy day…the sun…was starting to disappear.
The website describes the course as “the fun mud and obstacle 5K for everyone. If you can laugh, you can do it. No special training required.” And the course was exactly that. Easy, rolling trails with a handful of hilarious obstacles along the way. Not a single one of the obstacles was overly physically challenging. Of course there was plenty of mud:
But instead of physically or mentally challenging obstacles you would see on a Spartan or Tough Mudder course, the Muckfest MS obstacles were reminiscent of the show “WipeOut”. Zip lines, giant swings, even a spinning merry-go-round type of obstacle that promised to drop you into freezing cold water if you fell off. They were all so fun, I couldn’t stop laughing.
(Note, not all obstacles pictured, and pictures are not in chronological order)
The only two downsides to the race itself were the crowds and the weather. While Muckfest MS obviously couldn’t control the weather, the crowds became a two fold issue in that a) no one likes to stand around and wait for an obstacle, and b) no one likes to stand around and wait for an obstacle while soaking wet and shivering. As you can see in the obstacle below, this was supposed to be a spider web of sorts, made out of nylon rope. Because there were SO many people, everyone pretty much flattened the “web” and instead of crawling through it, walked right over it instead.
I certainly don’t mind the crowds when taking into consideration that this race is a fundraiser: the more people = more money towards a good cause. However, I think this race would be much better suited in late May or anytime during the summer. April in New England is far too hit or miss with the weather…and there was A LOT of water on this course.
The course weaved in and out of open fields and very wide, very well groomed forest trail. The course itself was easily runnable or walkable for all fitness levels, no trail running experience require. The best part about Muckfest MS, besides the hilarious obstacles, was the camaraderie between the participants. Everyone was out having a fun time, and encouraging each other through some of the more challenging obstacles (which for most, seemed to be a fear of heights). One of the highlights of my day was when Geoff cheered “good job tutu!” to a woman rolling across the top of the cargo net. She yelled back down “Thanks. This is nothing. I was pregnant on a waterbed once!” which sent all 50+ people in that immediate area into hysterics.
The finish line approached soon enough, I didn’t wear a GPS but word on the OCR street is that the course was just about 3.0 miles exactly. (I wish I had the great finish line pics to share with you, but those will come later.) There were hoses to clean off with if necessary, though I found myself relatively mud free due to all of the water obstacles. We were given a t shirt, a bag full of snacks (banana, granola bar, and a tasty Muckfest MS cookie). In lieu of a medal, we received a voucher good for lunch: either a hotdog and chips or a veggie burger and chips. And of course, there was the free post race beer, courtesy of the Traveler Beer Co.
To sum up our Muckfest MS adventure: it was indeed built for laughs. We had a ton of fun running through the course, and sharing the afternoon with our friends. And the good news? The over 5,400 people that ran this race raised more than $600,000 for the National MS Society in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis.
Thank you Muckfest MS for a wonderful (albeit, cold) afternoon!
Heather Hart is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), UESCA certified Ultrarunning Coach, RRCA certified Running Coach, co-founder of Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching, and creator of this site, Relentless Forward Commotion. She is a mom of two teen boys, and has been running and racing distances of 5K to 100+ miles for over a decade. Heather has been writing and encouraging others to find a love for fitness and movement since 2009.