Tag Archives: Mud Crusade

Mud Crusade: Finding a Niche?

By Pete Williams

DADE CITY – Had Mud Crusade debuted a year ago, before Florida became saturated with obstacle mud races, athletes probably would have been quite impressed with how the Dade City Motocross and Pasco County Fairgrounds was converted into a short, muddy course over the weekend.

Now it’s tough for any mud run or obstacle race to stand out in a crowded field. Considering many of the 5,600 or so athletes who participated over the two days paid $25 or less via various early-bird promotions, it would be tough to say they didn’t get their money’s worth. Nobody seemed too bent out of shape about getting an insulated tumbler instead of a T-shirt. If the course fell short of the advertised 5K mark by a few tenths of a mile, well, that was okay too.

But given the fierce competition in the obstacle race category, led by national series such as Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash, along with Florida-based tours that have put on at least two successful races (Savage Race, Highlander), it might be a challenge for Mud Crusade to establish a foothold, especially if it doesn’t plan to offer $25 discounted entries the next time.

Race director Marshall Chmura says he’ll continue the aggressive early-bird marketing efforts that in January caused him and his partners to revise their projected attendance from 1,800 to more than 5,000. With so many getting in for under $25, T-shirts became cost prohibitive and Chmura erred on the side of caution with the course layout, not wanting to take out too much parking. That turned out to be unnecessary, he said, but it accounted for a course that likely fell shy of 5K.

“Our whole philosophy was to keep it affordable,” Chmura said. “When you’re new to the game, you’d be naïve to think you could challenge Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash. We wanted to build a reputation and build for the long term. There’s a niche group of people who do these events willing to give you a shot, but you’ve got to make the most of that first opportunity.”

We liked the flow of the course. Traffic moved well and there were few backups. It’s difficult at this point to come up with new obstacles, but navigating a lengthy fishnet was a different wrinkle. All of the obstacle race staples were there: balance beam, monkey bars, cargo net, mud/barbwire crawl, water slide, walls of various heights.

There wasn’t a signature obstacle nor anything involving ice or claustrophobia. If this was your first obstacle race, and it was for about half of the 50 crazies I ran with, it was perfect. For those coming off Savage Race in Clermont last month or the Spartan Race in Miami in February looking for a greater challenge, however, it might have seemed a bit of a letdown.

Given the escalation in entry fees for obstacle races and how the category – unlike triathlons and most road racing events – charges $10 for parking and does not provide free refreshments beyond the first beer, we think there’s a place for a race like Mud Crusade — if it keeps its rates at $59 or less. None of its obstacles were so big they couldn’t be easily moved around the state by the event’s Jacksonville-based owners. In that sense, it could fill the first-timer obstacle race void left when Muddy Buddy left the Sunshine State after last year.

Chmura says he plans to launch registration next week for the Sept. 15 Mud Crusade at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Registration is $49 through June 30 and Chmura says he might provide discounts comparable to those given in January for those who signed up early for the Dade City event.

We’ve seen a lot of one-and-done mud runs in Florida in the last year including Iron Crusader, Champions Mud Bash, and Ragin’ Warrior. All had visions of moving beyond the state, though we’ve yet to see a Florida-based promoter pull it off. Savage Race has a number of out-of-state locations planned, though no dates announced. Mud Crusade would be the first to open registration for an out-of-state event. The Miami event listed on the Mud Crusade website for Dec. 1-2 will change, Chmura says, since he does not want to go up against Tough Mudder, which takes place in Fort Meade the same weekend.

Will Mud Crusade ever be as challenging as Tough Mudder or Spartan Race? Probably not. But it could fill a niche staging compact, lower-cost events in central locations within striking distance of its Jacksonville headquarters.

“I simply think that we can deliver as good or better a race at an affordable price,” Chmura said. “I don’t determine what these races cost. Ultimately, the consumer does. Based on what we did here working, we’re going to build better, bigger obstacles, and refine our technique. We did this with not a lot of experience, but a lot of determination and hard work. We’re looking forward to taking it to Atlanta.”

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Mud Crusade Attracting Big Numbers

By Pete Williams

Coming April 21-22

Like most people, Marshall Chmura is blown away by the explosive growth in obstacle racing.

As the race director of the upcoming Mud Crusade, which takes place April 21-22 at the Dade City Motocross/Pasco County Fairgrounds near Tampa, he’s preparing for a crowd of 5,000 athletes for the inaugural event. More than 4,300 have registered.

“We built obstacles initially thinking 2,000 people but quickly realized we had to adjust for bigger numbers,” Chmura says. “We don’t want logjams at obstacles because the last thing you want when your blood is pumping is to get stuck and have to wait.”

That means waves will be restricted to 250 each and obstacles placed to minimize congestion. As for the course itself, there’s a map at mudcrusade.com, but Chmura is keeping the specifics of the obstacles secret. He will say that there will be water obstacles but no water deeper than four feet.

“Due to the length of the course (5K), we can’t compete with a longer event like a Tough Mudder and won’t try to,” he said. “But this is not going to be a walk in the park. At the same time, we’re trying to promote the event and grow the industry and have people come out and have a good time.”

Chmura, who is based in Jacksonville, comes from an athletic family that includes older brother Mark Chmura, the former Green Bay Packers tight end who is lending his name to the event and pitching in occasionally. Most of the workload falls to Marshall and Matt Chmura, who like Mark all fall in the 6-foot-6 range.

“There were a lot of meat and potatoes eaten in our family growing up,” says Marshall Chmura, who is 6-foot-7. “We’re never tough to pick out of a crowd.”

Like most obstacle races, Mud Crusade charges $10 for parking, though there is no fee for spectators. The course will be mostly on the Dade City Motocross property, taking advantage of terrain and obstacles used for dirt bike racing, but also include part of the Pasco County Fairgrounds. The company will continue the motor racing theme in September with a Mud Crusade on the property surrounding Atlanta Motor Speedway. There also are events scheduled for Memphis (Nov. 3) and Miami (Dec. 1-2).

“We’re totally focused on the Tampa race right now,” Chmura says. “We want to give all runners and spectators a great time and deliver an awesome event.”

(Listen to an interview with Mud Crusade race director Marshall Chmura on The Fitness Buff Show HERE:)

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