Fifty Shades of Mud: My Rugged Maniac Race Report

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

The Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Race AKA Mud, Mud, Hills, and Mud

Crawling in mud on my hands and knees while ducking under barbed wire on a chilly Massachusetts morning isn’t usually my idea of fun, but it turned out to be a blast.

I had been hemming and hawing about signing up for the Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Race for months, especially since the other women on my team dropped out. I prepared and got to the point where I felt confident enough about the running, but the obstacles — huge walls, tunnels, cold water pits — were something that I didn’t know whether I could do on my own.

Rugged Maniac race report

Our team, “Fifty Shades of Mud,” ended up being just five of us: my husband Randy, my two teenage boys, my husband’s friend Jordan, and I. I planned to let the boys and men run ahead at their own paces and go at my slower pace, and that is what we did.

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

I had some occasional stabs of loneliness when I saw teams helping each other over certain challenging obstacles, but one thing I didn’t anticipate was how empowering it would be to get over, under, and through all the obstacles on my own. Especially those dreaded walls!

I did hold hands with one woman to navigate the pilings, tall columns that were about five feet apart that we had to jump along. She was a woman I had chatted with before the start who was also on her own, so it was nice to have a hand when I really needed one.

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Here’s how the race went down. (I didn’t have my camera during the run, so the photos are from before and after my race, except for the very end when Randy was able to take some of me and one that I purchased).

Rugged Maniac Race Report

We lined up for our 10:45 start time at about 10:30. The first obstacle didn’t even count as part of the race, a plywood barrier about four feet tall that I needed to climb over. Eying it made me nervous before the race even started, but when I got over it with no problem, I felt a little burst of confidence. (Regular readers will know that I am inept at anything involving scrambling or climbing. I’m talking about you, Mount Katahdin.)

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Rugged Maniac Racer Entrance, Southwick, MA, 2012

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

It was a fun atmosphere in the waiting area, with people stretching, hopping, joking, basically a lot of visibly nervous people killing time. A lot of teams dressed up in cool costumes. Tutus were particularly popular. I loved the man in the gilded Roman toga, and we saw a team in business suits and ties. (I wish I saw them crawling through the mud!)

The announcer shouted, “Rugged!,” and we yelled, “Maniac!” a couple of times, and then we were off.

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

My two teenage boys shot ahead, then Jordan, then Randy, then me. I settled into a pretty good pace (for slow me) and held it until I came to the first obstacle, a stepped wall of about 13 feet to climb up and over. I did fine on that one, but was a little freaked going over the top.

My hardest obstacles came next: two separate 7-foot walls to get over (height estimated). Thankfully, there was a little lip of wood to step on, and I then reached with my arms to pull myself up to standing, flung a leg over, and painfully scraped the rest of me over. I was worried about dropping down the full height on the other side, and I bruised my hands and arms trying to hold on while I lowered myself. On the second one, my technique was a little better, and I didn’t get any new bruises. Those obstacles were my most dreaded, so I felt really good getting over them and running ahead.

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

The rest of the race is a jumble in my mind, but these were some of the obstacles:

  • Crawling in mud under barbed wire (actually kind of fun, but very cold, and I really didn’t appreciate the rocks)
  • Crouching through an underground tunnel (I was in pitch black darkness for about 8 seconds of it; freaky)
  • Jumping into water pits and climbing out the other side (cold, and seemingly increasingly colder as the course progressed)
  • Swimming over or under floating barriers in a muddy water pool (I went over; I was really cold by then)
  • Climbing up through a watery, muddy tunnel with the help of a knotted rope (challenging)
  • Sliding down a gigantic slide into a pool of chilly water (bashed into people in front of me and got bashed by those behind me, and this was supposed to be the fun one!)
  • Running over fire (looked badass, but not a problem)
  • Hills, hills, and hills, up and down a Motocross course (ugh, I admit to walking the  steep, muddy hills)
  • Rolling across an elevated cargo net (this was the last obstacle; I could have put up with anything by that point)

One perk of being slower than the rest of my team? My husband was able to get our camera back and cheer me on for my finish.

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

I am on the top waving.

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Just before crossing the finish line

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

High five at the finish

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Fifty Shades of Mud

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

After the race, we got cleaned up with the milk jugs of water we had stashed in the car (avoiding the freezing hoses) and returned for our complimentary beer from Harpoon Brewery. Now we’re talking.

We ate and walked around, soaking up the scene.

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

I am very glad to have checked this off my list, so to speak. It was fun, but I can’t tell you how glad I was that it was over. I have been worrying about this race for months!

And now I can finally say: “I’m a rugged maniac!”

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Some additional photos:


Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Gotta love a guy in a tutu

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Chin-ups after the race? Really? (This is the same guy who sprinted after the arduous Connecticut Hot Dog Tour.)

Rugged Maniac Southwick MA 2012

Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Race

Previous posts: I Am Not a Rugged Maniac… | The Off the Beaten Path (and Couch) Playlist | Bumps Along the Path to the Rugged Maniac | How to Train for a Race Like It’s a Video Game

 Have you run an obstacle race? Tell me how it went in the comments.

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About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.

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27 Responses to Fifty Shades of Mud: My Rugged Maniac Race Report

  1. Jolene says:

    MARCY – You are a Rugged Maniac! How awesome!! I have not signed up for any of these obstacle course runs – yet. I did complete my first 1/2 marathon last weekend, but I don’t know that I’m ready for obstacles, mud, or just being cold while running. People who can complete these things AMAZE me! Great job. What I think is even better? You did this with your family!! That is totally cool!
    Stopping by from Saturday Sharefest! Hope you had a great weekend!
    Jolene recently posted..3:12:14My Profile

    • Marcy says:

      Thanks so much, Jolene. What amazes me is people who complete a 1/2 marathon! You could definitely do a mud run, no problem. 🙂 It was a fun thing to do as a family.

  2. Oh my gosh you are my heroine!

    Doing a muddy race is something that is in my bucket list for SURE! This is super inspiring. Amazing!!

    Hope you are taking it easy and pampering yourself with lot’s of self-care xoxo
    Laura @ Joyful Shimmy recently posted..Fall 2012 Bucket ListMy Profile

  3. Katy says:

    I found your blog from the Rugged Maniac Facebook page. I completed the Rugged Maniac on Saturday and loved it! It was my third obstacle race to date. Previously I did the Mountain Mucker (a 5k race) and the Tough Mudder (a 10 mile race). So far I have to say I liked the Rugged Maniac the best. The obstacles were challenging, but fun. It could have been a little longer, but overall it was a blast! Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. You are awesome! What a great thing you did, you should be very proud!!! I have friends who do the Mudder Run, which is similar to what you did, but I know there is no way I could ever do that! Cheers to you!
    Yvonne Salvatierra recently posted..VintageMy Profile

  5. Beverly says:

    CONGRATS! That is even more awesome because you stayed committed when the other females didn’t 🙂 I don’t do things like this because of severe arthritis in my knees but my husband and sons have done WarriorDash and Mud Ruckus. Have to say people in these pics somehow look much cleaner. What’s next on the list? 🙂

    • Marcy says:

      We kept getting rinsed off in the water pits. Oh, and my sons were so much faster than I that they had time to shower before the “after” pic. 🙂 Hmmm, not sure what’s next from my list. I need to find a cow to milk.

  6. What an amazing thing to do! I would never in a million years be able to do something like that. While I can do a 5K walk/run, there is no way that I would even consider those obstacles. Well done!! You really are a Rugged Maniac!!
    April @ The 21st Century Housewife recently posted..The Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
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  10. Maria C. says:

    I’m about to sign up for my first Rugged Maniac. I’m just starting to train for running now, and I figure I’ll get a personal trainer to help me with the rest. I’m very nervous but reading about your experience made me feel a little more confident. Thanks!

  11. Katrina Voshall says:

    I’m getting myself in shape for Rugged Maniac June 1st in Portland. I am overweight and have never done anything like this before, your blog helped ease some of my fears and nervousness. Thank you. How long did it take you to complete?

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  13. Cassandra says:

    Thank you for posting this! I found your blog after I signed up for Rugged Maniac Brooklyn 2013 (my first obstacle course 5K) and was looking for people’s experiences. It can be intimidating, especially if you read their training guide. I can run a little over 4 miles, with hills, and have been practicing climbing over stuff. Reading your blog gave me a real person’s experience to go by. The race is this Saturday! I hope I am as successful as you were 😀 So awesome that you did it with your family!

  14. Chris says:

    Hi Marcy! I’m signed up to run this course (Southwick) this weekend (2013) but had some training set backs because I was sick so have been really nervous about going through with it. Well, that and I’m supposed to be at a wedding ceremony in CT at 2pm (I have a 10:45 start time. Poor planning, I know) 🙂 Anyway, after finding and reading your post I feel like it’s something I should push ahead with. Thanks for blogging about your experience and good luck with everything you try!!

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