a bit about me...
That's me at my first Tough Mudder, getting lit up with 10,000 volts of electricity.
Kinda crazy, I know. Even crazier: I’ve been obsessed with obstacle course racing ever since.
In addition to running dozens of these so-called “sufferfests" -- including 50+ miles at the astonishingly brutal 24-hour World's Toughest Mudder (twice!) -- I have written related features for places like Rolling Stone, Men's Journal and Outside. One of these, an exposé about the scandalous origins of Tough Mudder, had a distinct Social Network vibe, generating international headlines and inspiring a 60 Minutes Sports segment.
This Outside cover story made quite the splash within the cultish obstacle race community — and granted me a measure of fame (or infamy depending on how you felt about Tough Mudder). It also led to an unbeatable curiosity about the mud run phenomenon, which ultimately resulted in a feature documentary, Rise of the Sufferfests.
Simply put, Rise of the Sufferfests asks why — when the thrust of civilization has been safety and comfort — are millions of people suddenly paying for the things we’ve been trying to avoid for, well... ever.
Thanks to strong promotional support from Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and OCR athletes and influencers, the film was an instant hit within the community; it debuted at #3 on the iTunes doc charts in September 2016, and spent much of the next year as one of the top sports documentaries. It also trended on Amazon.
It really took flight in 2017 however — literally — when it was featured on Delta, United, Virgin Atlantic, British Air and nearly a dozen major airlines around the world.
And by some strange magic, it has given me the opportunity to pursue another passion project: OtherSide Sonoma. In short, OtherSide is a radical reimagining of the obstacle race experience, and an homage to my obsession with Tough Guy and Burning Man. It's a 5-mile night race featuring interactive art as obstacles, surreal lighting and sound design, digital projections, a custom soundtrack and conceptual course signage. The goal is to send participants on a Hero's Journey. It's like a sufferfest meets a vision quest, and it's coming to a Sonoma County in 2020.
To be clear, I never had any intention of getting stuck in the mud. When I signed up for my first Tough Mudder in June 2011, I was an aspiring humorist (slash David Sedaris fanboy) who figured an essay about a self-proclaimed “beta-male” training up and tackling a paramilitary assault course would make for funny material. That said, I was so profoundly moved by the experience I knew I had to follow this white rabbit wherever it led. It sure as hell hasn't been easy, as noted by Fast Company, but it's been a deeply fulfilling adventure.
The film opened several exciting doors, including a TEDx about “The (Unexpected) Magic of Mud, Sweat and Suffering.”
When I’m not obsessing over OCR, or writing essays about the things most people keep to themselves, I make a living writing and designing treatments for some of the top directors in music videos and commercials. I’ve collaborated on landmark videos for Rihanna, Madonna, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus (Party in the USA!), as well as Paris Hilton’s infamous Carl’s Jr. commercial.
I’ve also been known to play didgeridoo with the criminally under-discovered rock band OURS. The didgeridon’t, as many of my friends like to call it, has taken me on tour with Marilyn Manson, and, improbably enough, into Rick Rubin’s recording studio. Yes, it's been a strange trip indeed.
I grew up in New Jersey, received my B.A. from Boston College (’99) and my M.F.A. from University of San Francisco (’04).
I’m lucky enough to live at the Voigt Ranch in Sonoma County, with my bride, Amber, and two little humans, Raleigh and Birdie.
"Talk about a guy who owns his beat. Scott Keneally wrote the 2012 Outside magazine story exploring the feud between Tough Guy and Tough Mudder. That article, one of the best ever executed on this rising sport, is now bookended by Keneally’s mud-spattered pièce de résistance. His 2016 documentary, Rise of the Sufferfests, poses questions about obstacle racing which its rowdy, whooping participants may or may not ask themselves as they are shocked, frozen, exposed to tear gas and otherwise abused: Why am I paying to do this? What is the appeal of risking broken bones and hypothermia?"
Austin Murphy, Sports Illustrated
"A fascinating look at a fascinating world."
JEREMY SCHAAP, EspN