This weekend signified great news for many of the OCR lovers in Florida. With the arrival of September, we know that this means the summer lull in racing is finally over! Each summer, as the sweltering heat and oppressive humidity bears down on our southernmost state, most Florida runners go quiet as races move north, and we opt to settle in for training which is scheduled strategically to avoid the daylight. Similar to how a vampire avoids the sunlight for fear of the searing burn that will tear away at their flesh, so a Florida runner seeks to complete their training prior to the first rays of sun peeking over the horizon, delivering with them an energy-sucking dose of extreme temperatures and dizzying humidity.
Now I must say that September in Florida is by no means cool (we typically don’t see cooler weather till October), but since we tend to be fully acclimated to the extremely hot and humid weather, and we slowly but surely begin to see slightly less oppressive morning temperatures, race addicts are eager to fill the void we’ve felt for months by attending the first OCR we can get our hands on.
This year, that race was Mud Titan, hosted at Roberts Ranch in Plant City, Florida. Droves of runners, hungry to tackle a race after the dry spell of summer, approached the venue with anticipation. The sprawling woods teased incoming racers, as hints of the signature bright yellow obstacles peeks through the trees. It was a family reunion of sorts, as local OCR regulars happily greeted one another, catching up on time gone by.
Being the 4th Mud Titan that I’ve had the pleasure of participating in, I was provided with a good foundation to compare this specific race to their previous events. I was particularly interested in how the race itself had evolved since our last go-around this past spring, as my main critique at that time had been of the stability of the obstacles. I was excited to get out on course, and was ready to see what Mud Titan had in store.
In case you may not know, Mud Titan has always been a race that my husband, son and I have run as a family, and we maintained that tradition at this event by embarking together shortly after the competitive wave had been sent on their way. One of my favorite things about this specific race series is how family friendly the entire event is! From providing bounce houses and slip n’ slides at the festival area, to the great kids course, not to mention the many families who run the main course together, this race provides the perfect way to spend a day of fun with your entire family!
Since Mason has also been a big part of the Mud Titan events, we were comfortable knowing that he would skip the obstacles that were too difficult for him, but those that we could either modify or not worry about injury, he was able to complete with us. He helped me flip tires, pulled the rope alongside me at the Bucket Hoist, rode piggyback through the waist deep water of the Log Carry as I propped the log he’d picked underneath him like a wooden seat, and dragged a tire with me through the dirt. When not completing an obstacle with us, he cheered us on as we tackled the more difficult obstacles, and we enjoyed a Saturday spent in sunshine and fresh air as a family.
There were a few aspects of this event that I feel are noteworthy, as I noticed a distinct improvement from prior events. To begin with, the volunteers were amazing! They were enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, & excited! I’ve been to countless races where volunteers either seem bored, annoyed, or simply have no idea what they are doing, so the fantastic attitude of the volunteers was incredibly refreshing. There was one specific girl who I’m certain won’t have a voice today, as she ran excitedly around her area cheering loudly for each participant.
Mud Titan also stepped it up in the photography department, as many photographers were seen throughout the course. I could also tell that it was no small bit operation, as the photographers were more than willing to get dirty to get the perfect shot. I’m excited to see the final product, and am sure that all participants will be pleased with their photos.
My previous concern over stability of obstacles must have been heard, as the obstacles in question were reinforced and much more solid at this event. Kudos to Mud Titan for taking this concern to heart and building a course where its racers don’t have to feel concerned as to the possibility of the obstacles themselves falling apart.
Finally, a few new challenges were added to this event, stepping up the difficulty level of the course, and adding a fresh experience for repeat racers. Extra rings were added at the top of my favorite obstacle, the Ninja Walls, making it the very first time I have ever failed this obstacle (gives me something to train for!). An I-Beam, which is a guaranteed upper-body killer, was added, and an incline wall with three different heights and cargo climb at the back was also an incredibly fun added challenge. Lots of mud, muck, and swamp filled the expanse between obstacles, and time flew as we were constantly encountering new challenges along with the favorite Mud Titan staples.
Hands down, this event was my favorite Mud Titan yet, and I’m excited to see the great things they have to come! With some exciting new sponsors, and events that just keep improving, they can only keep getting better and better! Check out their next event, Tactical Titan, coming to Brandon, Florida on October 18th! I hope to see you there!
A huge THANK YOU to Mike Nelson for allowing my family to be a part of your race! We truly loved this race, and Mud Titan is quickly becoming a local favorite of ours! You really do put together an amazing race that is not only challenging, but also family friendly, and perfect for anyone from elite to beginner. Thanks!