True Mudd: An Obstacle Course Race Review

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True Mudd pin image

Before we begin, I must admit a certain degree of bias. In late July of 2014, a friend of mine invited a group of us for an experience like no other: a mud run. I’d never heard of this, but his description was intriguing, so I tagged along.

The passion and obsession began.

I participated in two races hosted by True Mudd later that year and won both, sealing my relationship with this local venue.1925224_1503385209903634_6346291305700958233_n

No surprise then that I’ve included a series of True Mudd races in my 2015 schedule, and so I arrived on July 5th to participate in their latest race.

The Venue:

True Mudd is a relatively young and permanent OCR course situated on 300 acres of swampland outside of Tabor City, North Carolina. The course is the latest development of the Low Country Preserve which also hosts various gun ranges and even a horse rescue. Unlike many mainstream venues, there are no huge banners, loud crowds, or vendors staked into the landscape selling their wares. A log cabin awaits all who dare to enter the race at the end of a long dirt road, guarded by a host of mosquitoes and horseflies, with such decor as shattered orange shot pull discs and a “flower bed” of shotgun shells.

The race begins on a dirt road where a mangled “START” sign hangs nailed to a tree. From there it’s a half-mile run along an archery trail where 3D effigies of big game stare out from the woods. Hunting dogs bark at athletes as they run toward the first obstacle.

The Obstacles:

Technically, the brooding landscape could be the first obstacle, however the official first is a long set of monkey bars. The early morning dew moistens the metal, so either wear gloves or be mindful of your grip. From there we move beneath the canopy of vines, trees, and hanging moss to a series of over-under logs and 6, 7, and 8-foot walls. This leg of the 5K course extends to the edge of a platform which leads to a 15-foot drop into a dark pond. True Mudd staff claims they’ve evicted all the snakes, however a stubborn, old, toothless gator is known to loiter the property according to legend.

platform truemudd

Most of the other nearly 30 obstacles are standard fare: wall climbs, log carries, rope swings and traverses, and plenty of dirt mounds and water pits, but what makes True Mudd a force of nature are its water obstacles. Long trenches of water knee-to-neck high wind through the course, which slow the pace of even the most tenacious athletes. Swim proficiency is a must for this course in order to surmount the muddy water. I’ve never seen so much water on a course.

Or as much mud.


As if the swim portion does not sap you enough, the “Battlefield” finishes the job with 100-yards of the thickest soul-wrenching mud trench I’ve ever seen. The trench terminates with a large, corrugated pipe where athletes must climb up and out, birthing them into the final 3/4 mile run of this demented course. In the end, a warped wall and slide into yet another pond awaits the athletes, washing them clean (sort of) of all evidence of the hell they just endured before a 100-yard sprint to the finish line.


What I Like:

  • Local venue, support of local small businesses and grassroots OCR
  • Permanent course
  • Inexpensive one-fee entry
  • Challenging obstacles
  • Unique water challenges
  • Small waves of competitors


  • Fixed obstacles. The venue sets course records, but alters obstacles. For this to work, it needs continuity.
  • New venue, new staff. This will improve with time, however without a greater OCR marketing strategy the venue will fade.
  • Podium recognition. Athletes are drawn to podium swag and cash. Even something small will make a difference and increase registration numbers.
  • More volunteers monitoring the course.
  • Official timing for every scheduled race.
  • Better marking for course direction. Those woods are dense and creepy. No Deliverance, please.
  • Better social media communication/interaction.

The Verdict:

3 12 splats

I love this course. There’s a rustic, untamed ambiance to the venue which offers a different pace and flavor to the more mainstream powerhouses of OCR. Think Teutoburg Forest, and you are General Varus (Google it). It’s that tough. True Mudd receives 3.5 splats out of 5 because it’s a brutal course, however it has not yet reached its full potential. Much of the woes stem from marketing weaknesses and recent staff changes, but these issues are far from insurmountable. I highly recommend this 5K course that will thrill amateur weekend warriors and seasoned OCR athletes alike. Be sure to visit their website for a race schedule and join their Facebook page for updates.

I’ll see you in the swamp!


  1. Great article. Agree with more volunteers on the course and especially all swimming obstacles.

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