Rebel Race is Not Ready for Prime Time


When it comes to mud races, the event is about a lot more than how tough or messy the obstacles are or how much fun it looks like people are having in the pictures posted on the event’s website.

The Rebel Race is a relative newcomer to the world of obstacle and mud run events – they’ve only been operating since 2011 – and they’re a great example of how bad execution can turn a good idea into a so-so event.

From haphazard race registration confirmations to late starting times, from poorly marked courses to mediocre swag, the Rebel Race organizers seem to consistently make the mistake of focusing on the fun parts and totally ignoring attention to the kind of details that make a race a success.

Though there are certainly those who have run the race and exulted in the thrill of plunging into mud and scaling cargo nets, to do so they had to turn a blind eye on the many organizational snafus. It’s no wonder that so many veteran mud runners have crossed the finish line annoyed and ready to spread the word that this one isn’t worth the time.

Fun, Fun, Fun?

fitness2xtreme-images-rebel-race-costumesThe race does a pretty good job of publicizing themselves. They have sold out every event that they’ve held and attracted a crowd of runners who are ready to have a good time.

Many participants show up decked out in war paint and costumes, flexing muscles and doing pre-race push-ups that make it clear that they are ready to dig deep and do battle. With both a 5K and a 15K offered at each event the race is appealing to a broad variety of fitness buffs ranging from those who want the thrill of a mud run without committing to Tough Mudder’s distance, to those who are actually training for a longer event and hope that the Rebel will be a good warm-up and a fun time.

fitness2xtreme-images-rebel-race-jumping-over-duraflame-logs-flThe challenges are many, and are made up of standard mud/obstacle fare that is for the most part well done. The event takes place in a variety of locations around the country and the organizers are limited by the topography of the sites they choose, but they do manage to find locations with good streams for crossing, and where there are no hills, they build them.

Tunnels, cargo nets, fire pits and plenty of thick mud to crawl through are all there, but even some of those seem to be slapped together.

On one occasion a cargo net climb was only anchored on one side, forcing a back-up of racers who all had to use the other side to go up and over; at another race the fire pit to be hurdled was described as a trench with a Duraflame log thrown in. Now that doesn’t exactly conjure up a legitimate race, does it?

Legitimate complaints

One racer complained that instead of having a drill sergeant barking orders to do push-ups, a mild-mannered “biggest geek in the world” ASKED people if the would do them, and in what was perhaps the most frequently heard complaint, the ropes that were provided for a river crossing were inappropriately thin and poorly strung, either leaving those who were using them hanging down low enough into the water that they might as well have swum across, or with horrific rope burns.

Once I got past the confusion-driven backup, the obstacle essentially consisted of four routes. One option was to cross the river entirely on a rope stretching from one bank to the other. A racer in front of me climbed on and the weight of his body caused the rope to bend down until he was nearly in the water. The second option was to use the rope to climb down into the water. The rope was so thin and tight that it nearly burnt your hands trying to hang on during the descent into the river. The third option was to slide down the embankment and entirely skip the rope, which most people would up doing. The final option was to sit on a dolly suspended between two ropes and pull yourself across. Unfortunately, there was a 10-person wait and the it took ages to get across on the dolly and for the volunteers to send it back. I opted with option two on my first lap and option 3 on my second, but this obstacle should have been eliminated completely. –Michael Sandercock

Beyond the problems with the obstacles, the complaints about the way that the event is organized – or more accurately stated, disorganized – are frequent, and seem to pop up from location to location.

Starting lines aren’t posted until moments before the race, and the first group often doesn’t begin until several minutes after the official start time. The delayed start would be forgivable if not for the fact that the races that follow have been allowed to start at their scheduled time, resulting in bunching up and lines at obstacles.

This is particularly where races have been so poorly marked that entire waves of runners have run off course for half a mile, and then crossed through a neighboring yard to get back on track.

After waiting a good 5 minutes and barely advancing, we opted to skip this obstacle. Call us cheaters, call us rebels. It didn’t matter because they didn’t even time the race – something some racers took issue with as well. –Lori

Participants have reported concerns about safety – there have been comments about a notable lack of attention paid at some water crossings, no evidence of walkie-talkies to report injuries mid-course, a lack of water stations on the 15K trail, and even insufficient water in a mud hole that led several runners to report the event to the Better Business Bureau.

fitness2xtreme-images-rebel-race-barbie-doll-completion-medallionMore petty but still importantly, complaints have been lodged about the lack of supervision of the gear storage area, the demand for proof of age at the beer stand despite the racer’s age being posted on their race bib, a cheap white tee shirt as race gear, and lots of complaints about the finishers’ medal, which has been described as appropriate for a Barbie doll (see picture when compared to Warrior Dash medal to see what we mean).

As for the after race party, participants have loved the competitions that the Army and Marine reps have hosted, but felt that the rest of the event did not quite deliver what has been promised – participants enjoyed the local bands, but complained about the lack of variety in the food, as well as the need to purchase tickets in order to buy beer. Here is what Chris at CrazyMudderEffer had to say:

The Rebel Race folks are extremely disorganized when it comes to the actual race. And, having the parking area so far away from the beer tent/registration area is a HUGE MISS. I mean, it’d be different if I had any confidence in the gear check, but when I was there it was totally ignored. Walking an additional half mile AFTER running 3 to get a beer is just not acceptable. –Chris at


With lots of great mud races out there to choose from, the organizers of the Rebel Run need to get their act together pretty quickly because negative word of mouth can kill, especially at the speed of the web.

The consistency of the complaints, always about the same problems, indicates that the fixes are pretty simple – all they really need is to care enough to address the problems.

But if their response to hundreds of Facebook complaints after a Saturday event is any indication, not caring may in fact be the issue. Though they apologized for the problems and promised an improvement for the next day’s course, not enough visible action was taken, and word spread quickly.

If Rebel Race continues down the path they’re on, expect them to keep changing locations instead of returning to the scene of previously disappointing events where their (muddy) reputation precedes them.

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