Over the past few years mud races, and other types of obstacle course races, have become the new running fad. Five years ago I had never heard about an obstacle course race before, but now there are so many different mud race options, such as Rugged Maniac, Boulder Dash, Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, etc. The great thing about these races is almost anyone can do them, regardless of if you are amazingly fit or not. Most of these courses are just a 5k with obstacles and mud, but the Spartan Race has different levels you can try depending on your fitness level. For someone that is more athletic, races such as Mudderella, Tough Mudder, or the Bone Frog Challenge are more challenging, if that is what you are looking for.
This was my fourth year running in the Rugged Maniac at the Southwick, Massachusetts location. Southwick was the first location of the Rugged Maniac when it first began in 2010. Over the past 4 years, it has been awesome seeing how much the race has grown, and the course is never the same. Each year the path you follow is different than the previous year, and some of the obstacles aren’t always the same. One of the obstacles they’ve had every year is a big water pit you have to jump into and rope climb out of, this year they added onto it and placed a line of fire along the edge that you had to jump over to get into the water pit.
Another awesome thing about these races is seeing how everyone dresses up. In our wave there were these 3 girls that had on spandex leggings and tank tops that had the print of your bodies muscles. It was kind of weird to see at first, but then was pretty cool to watch them go up and over some of the obstacles because you could see the muscle print moving, which gave you the image of what your muscles must actually look like while doing the obstacle. Lots of other people dress up as super heros, or have team shirts, etc. and it’s just fun to watch all these people running through the race in their costumes, or be in a huge group together.
I think what I like the most about the Rugged Maniac is that it isn’t set up as a competition. Sure there are the more competitive people who just run right through it as fast as they can, but so many people offer their help to other on obstacles and make sure you’re ok if you fall. They also do not time your results either, which gives you more of a friendly non-competition feeling. The first couple of years they did have chip timers, but the past couple of years they stopped giving out chip timers. Now they only have a clock at the beginning and end of the race saying what the actual time was so you can have a rough idea of how long it took to finish the course.
Rugged Maniac is my favorite obstacle race that I have run in so far because it is challenging enough that I am sore and stiff the next day, but not so challenging that I would never want to do it again. I run pretty regularly, but I don’t really lift or work out my upper body much, so that is what gets me the most in these races (that and I don’t really like heights so the up and overs I’m super careful on). I did a Tough Mudder a couple years ago, and it was sooo hard, but that’s mostly because the course is just so long and your body gets so tired by the end. The Rugged Maniac is nice because it is just a 5k and takes me about around an hour to finish. Out of all the 5k obstacle course races I’ve done, the Rugged seems to be the most organized also. I’ve done several races that not even a quarter mile into the race everyone gets bottle-necked. In one race there was an obstacle that only 2 people could do at a time right at the beginning of the race, so all the people in the wave got stuck and had to wait forever to go over this obstacle. And in another race I did, not far from the start line the trail size went down to a one-person path, which bottle-necked everyone and slowed the whole wave down.
If you’re interested in trying an obstacle course race, I definitely recommend doing the Rugged Maniac as your first one. Even if you don’t think you are physically fit enough to finish it, you definitely can and will because who doesn’t want the well deserved beer at the end!?