Not all Mud Runs are created equal.
I figured that would ring true no matter what Mud Runs were in question. My only Mud Run experience until Saturday was, of course, the Camp Pendleton Mud Run.
Now, I'm a veteran of another Mud Run, the SBSD Mud Run.
I want to preface this entire post by saying that I did enjoy myself at the Mud Run on Saturday and I will consider running it again. It may not sound like it at times but just wanted to get that out there.
Having said that, there were notable differences between Camp Pendleton and SBSD, and initially I had a hard time stopping myself from comparing the two. I didn't want to keep thinking "Well, at Camp Pendleton it's this way" and cause myself to thumb my nose at something. Just didn't want to do that. I wanted to experience this race for what this race had to offer, not how it compared to Camp Pendleton.
I am so fond of Camp Pendleton that I can honestly say that hardly anything compares to that. It's an experience that is hard to match.
But the SBSD Mud Run wasn't some cheapie race either. It was challenging and I felt tired afterward, and sore throughout the rest of the day and into Sunday and Monday too.
So how did the races compare?
Running The Race
There is more running at Camp Pendleton. This of course is not a surprise as that's a 10K and SBSD is a 5K. However, at last year's race they either offered a 10K or it was a 10K, and the 10K course was the same course twice. That would not have been fun. I hope if they do bring back the 10K, perhaps for the fall running of this, that they'll have it as one continuous course instead of the same course twice. In general, I'm not a fan of such races though I understand for logistical reasons it might be easier to do it that way.
Camp Pendleton is one continuous course, a 10K loop. You start where you finish. Now, Camp Pendleton is also more running. The first half of Camp Pendleton is almost all running, and a lot of it is hilly. It's a challenge just to get to where the obstacles start. SBSD had some portions of it that were running but there were also a lot of obstacles that impeded you from running too far. Now, I realize this might be a bonus for some, not having to run a few straight miles so take it for what you will.
Neither race had any obstacles that were easy. There was nothing easy about SBSD, and there sure as crap ain't nothing easy about Camp Pendleton. They differed, though. There was a greater variety of challenges at Camp Pendleton. There are two walls, each six feet high, that you have to scale - one of which claimed my watch last year - and there's also a river you have to cross at Camp Pendleton, an actual river with water that reached to my chest. SBSD had the mud pits and the mounds of dirt on either side, and that was actually challenging to get out of because it was so damned slippery. At one point, I got near the top of one mound and slid straight backward and would have slid all the way back down to the water had someone not stopped me. That was fun.
In both races I had lots of mud and stones in my shoes, but I probably had more of them in SBSD. And since I was in more mud during SBSD, that's natural. The obstacles in SBSD were more spread out, and muddier. I got more muddy at SBSD than I did at Camp Pendleton.
Each race was sorta in the middle of nowhere. Camp Pendleton is about a 10-15 minute drive into Camp Pendleton. While there's a checkpoint in front to get back there, you still have to stop and show your license and proof of insurance... I think, if I remember correctly. SBSD was fairly simple to get into. It was on the grounds of the San Bernardino Sheriff's training academy... next to a women's correctional facility :) There was plenty of parking, but SBSD was easier to get to the start line from your car. At Camp Pendleton you either have to take a bus from the lot to the start line (which really isn't a big deal) or walk about a mile.
SBSD was fairly easy to get to. I picked up the bib the day before, shot right in and out without too much hassle. But Camp Pendleton mails you your bib. You cannot beat that.
The hose station was pretty cramped at SBSD, and a water truck nearby had to turn on its water and just let it all spew out so we could get some reprieve. But at Camp Pendleton there are outdoor showers, I'm guessing where they make the marines clean up on a normal day. So it's better to be herded in to some outdoor showers with several thousand people I don't now versus having to wait for a garden hose.
There are thints to like and to dislike. Putting SBSD in front of Camp Pendleton would be tough, but I suspect any race would fall into that category. Camp Pendleton for me is tops, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.