The very first Hero Rush, Maryland 4/28/12 was as good as you could get for a first-time race. The staff and volunteers were top-notch and on top of everything, and the headquarters staff has listened to seasoned runners of this novelty kind of race. The check-in process was really fast, but that might also have been because of registration numbers not being what they could be until the race series gets a little more exposure and word-of-mouth testimonials.
For me, this race has been the most creative and unique of the obstacle races. I’ve run other 5k races like Rugged Maniac (twice), Warrior Dash, and Run Amuck, but Hero Rush sets themselves apart by not making themselves to be another “mud run”. You’ll get wet, but you don’t need mud for a race to be fun. The obstacles vary in difficulty, some (namely Basement Entrapped,Towering Inferno, and Entanglement) being some of the most difficult but funnest in any of the 5k obstacle races I’ve seen, but for this race it is not about the difficulty or the extreme-ness of the obstacles/distance, but it’s in the “experience” of playing firefighter for 5-7k. To add to the “hero” experience, you can run the “343 Wave” which is dedicated to the 343 firefighters who died in the 9/11 attacks and sport a special runner’s bib displaying the name of one of those firefighters. The atmosphere and the feel of the obstacles make you feel “heroic”, as you face other kinds of mental obstacles such as darkness, tight spaces, heights. I feel this race, versus any other, encourages the thought of pushing yourself past your limits by running to honor someone who can’t, be it one of the 343, or a loved one.
The food is really good too. Being a firefighter-themed event, barbeque is a most fitting food offering, much different (and better) than most races. On top of that, with registration you get $5 in what is called Hero Dinero, good towards food/beverage. No other race I can think of even does that, and when you consider the registration rates ($54-$74), it’s still a solid addition to the registration package. I may be wrong about this, but I think the Dinero in future races can also be good towards Hero Rush apparel. Hero Rush’s apparel stands for more than just the race, you know it stands for honoring the firefighters and servicemen of today, yesterday, and tomorrow. It stands for a loved one you gave you themselves; perhaps someone you know is fighting cancer; perhaps you want your children to be proud of you. When you sport the Hero Rush logo, it is for something bigger than personal glory.
The MD Hero Rush has impressed me so much that I will also be driving 5.5 from Virginia to run the Pennsylvania event in August, and very likely I will drive that same amount of time in the opposite direction to go run the Carolinas event in October. This will be a first for me traveling to a different state to run a different location of a race I’ve previously run. I can’t wait to see how they utilize the paintball site in the Poconos, or the motosports track in North Carolina. With each race it will only get better and better and even more crazy, within the firefighter theme. The staff have thus far been very prompt and receptive to suggestions and comments. It’s almost as although the founders created the race and the bones of it, the fans are the ones who have shaped it and truly made it what it has already become: a different kind of race put together and run by a different calibur of people.