What is known as the “World Famous” mud run, isn’t exactly world class anymore. With the advent of Spartan Runs, and Tough Mudder, the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, is nothing but a glorified 10K trail race. Having done the run for the past several years, I question why I go back every year. Be it the tradition of friends who go, or my belief that every year has to get better? Wrong. It doesn’t.
Registration: Midnight, January 1st. This means no partying, no nothing on NYE. Trust me, I tried to bring my computer to vegas one year and register at midnight. That didn’t happen. If you’re lucky, you can still get dates for some of the later dates, but who does that? All the cool kids go to the 1st Saturday run. Always. My first year of registering, I made the rookie mistake by going to their website to register, not knowing I could go to Active first. As you guessed it, their website crashed and I stayed up very late to figure out all I needed to do was go to Active directly. Last year (2013), they decided to go with a new company hosted through their website. Knowing full well (far from their first rodeo) the kinds of traffic that shows up to register for this event. And it crashed. I stayed up till 2am till I could register. On top of that, they eliminated the B&U group which cheesed off a ton of people. Eventually they brought it back due to the complaints. This year (2014), they went back to Active.com, and it was seamless.
Cost: Increases every year, for zero value-added justification.
Packet Pick Up: Just have it mailed to you, at the extra expense. The kind(?) people at packet pick up failed to realize 1. Some of us have a full time job. 2. Traffic, on a Friday, to San Diego is a small bit of hell. 3. You might have a few stragglers who don’t make it to packet pick up by the cut off time. I apologize, for showing up 3 minutes after cut off, while you still had bibs out, but due to the line at the Camp Pendleton entrance, traffic, etc., I was unable to get here on time. But thank you for being kind & understanding in telling me to come back before the race tomorrow. I really did enjoy the 1 ½ hours of traffic I sat in to drive 60 miles there, and the 1 ½ hours of traffic I spent going home. Extra expense < Gas money, time, traffic, frustration
The course: Is it challenging? If you’ve never done at 10k, yes. 90% of the course is on dirt (trail) which means it’s less impact on your joints versus a road race. 3-4 of the miles are uphill. But that is the entire challenge of this race. They used to have this lake-reservoir (not O’Neil) to swim through, but due to our very dry climate, it’s been dried up for the past 3 years. The first year without it I thought, odd, it’s been dried up all year. Why not put an obstacle, or something, in place of it? But they didn't. This is world-class remember. And so for the past 3 years, we run through, what used to be a lake-reservoir with no additional challenge. Can I at least get a slip-n-slide? Crocodile Mile? Something? Way to step it up, and take my money while doing so. I feel, the 2012 course, was an epic low for the race. It hadn't changed in several years and the complaints were piling in. 2013 was supposed to be filled with fun & new exciting challenges. New meant, two new obstacles, one with a 30 minute wait time. I, however, applaud that an effort for new obstacles was made even if it did come with a wait time. Also, there were very new and bright mile markers. Awesome? Definitely worth the increase in registration. Not. As for the 6 ft. walls, there’s very nice Marines who will help you over if need be. Give them hugs ladies, they love it! Vulture Hill tip: Walk on the sides, and not right up the middle if you don’t want to slip & fall.
Oh and the mud? Not very much of it until the end of the race. But I do happen to love the final mud pit.
T-Shirts: Big fan of the old style t-shirts the give out. Last year they switched to those mesh-style shirts (like most races), in a dirt-like mud cream color. I never wear it. As a female, it’s just a heinous color. But I still wear my t-shirts from previous years.
Medal: In 2013, the only thing I was excited about was the fact that they gave you a dog tag for a finisher’s medal. Having paid for several, or got one in a VIP package, in previous years, it was nice to see the extra effort. Finally, one area of success! And guess what? Check out their Facebook comments to see they ARE NOT bringing that back for 2014. No dog tags, no finishers medal. Sorry. Hopefully with enough complaints they’ll bring it back.
Post Race: I believe, this is where all the race money goes. As stated, not much has changed in the course over the past 4 years. But this post race after party continues to get bigger and bigger. 2 years ago they had the BEST Journey tribute band. I don’t know who they had last year as I had to leave right after. There are many many GREAT food trucks including Panda Express and Hot Dog on a Stick. And beer, and margaritas!
Most important piece of advice: Plan to be at the Camp Pendleton gates no later than 6AM. Wait any later and you’ll likely miss your wave time. You need photo ID, and I believe insurance/registration to get on base. Because of this check, it takes time to get on base.
Final Thoughts: I don’t think I would do this race if it weren't for the friends that I do it with. After seeing other races, it’s evident Camp Pendleton Mud Run has a long road ahead of them to get back to when they were considered “world famous.” The bar has been raised with better mud runs, and it’s just not worth the money anymore. However, I would go to cheer someone on, and enjoy the after party!