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.
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.
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.
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 Racer Entrance, 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.
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.
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.
I am on the top waving.
Just before crossing the finish line
High five at the finish
Fifty Shades of Mud
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.
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!”
Some additional photos:
Gotta love a guy in a tutu
Chin-ups after the race? Really? (This is the same guy who sprinted after the arduous Connecticut Hot Dog Tour.)
Have you run an obstacle race? Tell me how it went in the comments.
Read about my quest to complete 101 things in 1001 days: Timid No More (ebook or paperback at Amazon)