I can’t say that I have had many opportunities to say this but “Watch out Spartan Race, here comes (MGG) Mud Guts and Glory. I ran MGG on May 24th 2014 and although I will express to you, in the best possible way about how Fantastic the course was/is, I also feel that words cannot fully explain/grasp the overall experience I had, for you must participate in it to really know. The race takes place at a stationary course location called Kings Domain which I have written about in the past and if you follow me, you also know that I feel strongly about the future of OCR racing is on stationary courses because they will undoubtedly be the most legit, challenging and in the case of MGG, technical obstacles one can encounter, and technical obstacles means leveling the playing field, which will only benefit the sport in whole because it will allow cross-fitters, military persons, obstacle junkies and runners alike, to have a chance to get the podium, provided that is your goal. Your goal may be to just challenge your physical capabilities or push yourself using a platform you may not have had elsewhere. In any case, MGG is the place to be.
One of the best ways to describe the course is, it almost told a story with each chapter you read getting more and more intense or in this case, each stage/level you enter, gets harder and harder and it’s all up to you as to how much harder it can be by opting to continue on and how fast you try and make it to the end and cross that finish line.
There are 5 stages, each stage offering you an honorable exit option, for those who choose not to go the distance. This is not to imply that stage 1 is a walk in the woods. After mile 1 you come across the infamous Gauntlet, where 10-12 cleverly designed obstacles stand back-to-back, with no running in between. If you are not exhausted already, this portion of the course will strip you of any explosive energy you have left because you must keep it moving, and for me, taking a break is not in my OCR vocabulary. Be careful on those monkey bars though, they can be a game changer as it was for me but I’ll get into that later. The Gauntlet, reminded me of Jarhead Playground, another back-to-back series of obstacles I have talked about in the past, that tests all your strengths and weaknesses and found only at the ABF Mud Run in New Jersey, another stationary course.
Somewhere in stage 2 you will find the sternum checker. It basically lives up to its name. If you don’t execute this obstacle well / correctly, for the lack of a better term, your sternum will 100% be checked and that, well…… really won’t be the most enjoyable obstacle. Approach this correctly and you will have fun soring over the huge log that stands 6 or 7 feet high. Not completing it will result in a penalty as that is the case with all the obstacles. What makes MGG stand out in this regard is that each obstacle you cannot complete has a different penalty, varying from a slosh pipe carry, box/tree stump jumps to burpees.
When I first approached Kings Domain in very west Ohio, I thought to myself that there were no mountains and that all the best races take place on mountains. Honestly, I still don’t know what I raced on, be it a mountain or a big hill but there was a hell of lot of steep climbing in a much wooded area. It certainly seemed as though we were on a mountain. Wendel Deyo founder and President of the Kings Domain and one of the course designers for MGG utilized his space brilliantly and beautifully. The grounds were kept extremely well and the overall environment was exceptional. I was taken back as to how well senior staff treated everyone, e.g., Wendel even gave me a couple of rides in his golf cart, from the top of the mountain where all sleeping arrangements were and where I was staying, to the bottom of the mountain where the race took place. How many people in general would be so kind, let alone the president of the venue? He probably knew that I was going to need a lift up and down that mountain, for he knew what stage 4 and 5 had in store for me.
Right before I hit stage 4, I entered what I believe was the Exodus if I am not mistaken or if you look on the MGG website, it is called Mt. Kill-A-Man, a steep climb where you must use a rope assistance. The name speaks for itself. There are only 2 ropes, one on the far left and one on the far right. I moved through this as fast as I could and when I reached the top, I had to stop completely and catch my breath hut let’s keep that detail on the DL.
That was just the beginning, there were several more even steeper climbs including the Leeann’s Insanity in stage 4, which involves no assistance except for the tree roots, rocks and braches around you, (don’t lose your grip or footing because falling down this obstacle is not an option), and Piannacle Hill in stage 5, which looks more like a cliff. It’s a near vertical climb back to the top of the ridge, assisted by ropes and whatever you can grab onto. It was like climbing up a 50 foot dirt wall. I would not recommend it for beginners, hence, why it’s in stage 5.
Besides the relentless climbs, you will encounter several military style obstacles, like Castle Wall, some Over Under, 10ft wall and of course the Weaver, which is one of the most technical and difficult obstacles I have faced. To complete this with minimal injury and a decent pace, you must have practiced technique and must get it down to a science. Although the other military obstacles can be technical, none are quite like the Weaver and it can definitely be a game changer as well, as it was for newcomer Macharia Yuot, who I felt, if knew how to approach obstacles like the Weaver, would have taken 1st place that day.
Staying on site is 100% the way to go. Kings Domain offers 2 bedroom cottages that fit up to 6 people, for $139 a person for a Friday and Saturday night stay, they have a full kitchen, living room and full bathroom. I stayed in the dorm rooms, which fit 50 people each section and they are separated by gender. I had to share the bathroom with others who stayed there but they were very big, clean and equipped with all your bathroom needs. They go for $119 a person for the weekend. There are cabins and camp sites also available for even lower rates and all packages include 3 very hearty, tasty, full meals a day from 7am to 6pm. The food is presented buffet style and there is always a variety to choose from. All this plus the convenience of walking down the mountain a few minutes to the starting line, makes this venue an extremely smart buy.
Registration rates are competitive at $79 for the standard Challenge Wave and $99 for the Elite Wave. It is also quite far from the north-east region of the U.S., as it is a 9 hour hike for me from NYC, nevertheless, I feel that, taking into consideration my overall experience as a whole from the race itself to the onsite accommodations/amenities, my trip out there was worth every minute and every penny spent. Not to mention Kings Domain and MGG is the home the OCR World Championship, sponsored by Andrian Bijanada and OCR Gear, teaming up with other great OCR companies like X Racewear, Mud and Adventure, Terrain Mud Run and Mud Run Guide, just to name a few. Because it is the home of the OCRWC, this is one course you must see before you compete that day on October 25th, 2014. MGG’s next event is August 16th, 2014, your last opportunity before try out this course before the championship.
I have some unfinished business there as I must take on the monkey bars with fierce aggression. I did not fall off them in May but I was a little unprepared with my initial approach. This knocked me back about 5 spots, causing me to lose ground I couldn’t get back, as it’s hard to do in the Elite wave, finishing 9th overall, where I maybe should have finished 5th. I will be back on August 16th to show that course who the boss is. See ya there!