Last Updated on September 29, 2019 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP, CSCS
A few weeks ago I reached out to the good people at Rugged Maniac asking if they would let me review their race. I had a friend running, and really wanted to join her for her first obstacle course race. And besides, a race promising you “Mud, Sweat, and Beer” always sounds like a good time!
After I registered (thank you Rugged Maniac!) I started talking to local mud run/obstacle course racing enthusiasts about this race series. The responses were not all that positive. Rumor was that 2010 was horrible, 2011 just slightly better. I was bummed to hear that, and needless to say, I showed up to this race with less than stellar expectations.
Thankfully, my expectations were absolutely blown out of the (muddy) water.
The Rugged Maniac in Southwick MA was a flipping BLAST. 24 hours later, Geoff and I are still talking about how much fun we had yesterday on the course.
Now, coming exactly one week off of the hardest race I’ve ever done in my life, I was very happy to run a down right muddy, easy (comparatively), fun race. The course did not disappoint, and I also feel it would be a FANTASTIC race for a first time mud-runner or someone looking to step out of their comfort (clean) zone.
But let’s get to the details, shall we?
PARKING: FREE. And right on-site. A very, very nice surprise.
REGISTRATION/PACKET PICKUP: Easy peasy. Very well organized, great volunteers.
SHWAG: ehhh….more on this at the end. 2/5.
THE COURSE: Fun level: 5/5. Difficulty level: 2/5.
But let’s emphasize the FUN factor. It was so much fun (have I said that yet?)
I’ll start from the beginning.
To get INTO the starting corral, you had to jump over a wall. I found this HILARIOUS, and totally appropriate. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I heard complaining. OK maybe complaining isn’t the right word, but hesitant and not happy about this wall. I (and I’m assuming the race directors) think the point is this: you signed up for an obstacle course race to, in theory, challenge yourself. If you can’t hop the wall to the starting corral, maybe you shouldn’t be here. Double high fives Rugged Maniac, that was priceless.
The obstacles we encountered were downright FUN. Sure there were the traditional wall climbs, fire jump, barbed wire crawls and tons of mud. But there were things I have never seen before at other obstacle course races, such as underground tunnels (pitch black..couldn’t see a thing in there!) and tunnel slides into FREEZING cold water (both face first down, and climbing back up). As far as difficulty level goes: it wasn’t hard for an experienced obstacle course racer. For a first timer or someone new to fitness, there certainly were some challenges. Climbing, crawling, heights, etc certainly push people out of their comfort zone. However, I feel this course/series would be perfect for the first time obstacle course racer, or someone just looking to have a muddy good time.
Enjoy some pictures from the course (and a huge THANK YOU to my amazing Geoff, who never once complains when I ask him to run with the camera!)
|Found a downed log on the trail…couldn’t resist a little balance work!|
|Mary B. *owning* a wall in her very first OCR! She kicked butt !|
|The hilarity of this picture is that it was pitch black in that tunnel. Geoff’s camera flash captured my excitement in the dark!|
|Mary emerging from the tunnel|
|Nothing is more disappointing than an OCR that lacks water/mud. This course did NOT disappoint!|
|barbed wire crawls…no army/stomach crawl necessary, but you still had to crawl, and that water was cold!|
|I LOVE MUD!!!|
|Down the tunnel…|
|…through the freezing cold barbed wire crawl, and back up the other side.|
|Mindi, Mary, and the rest of our team head down the slide|
Unfortunately the camera died before we could capture the very last obstacle on the course, but it was a giant cargo net hung between two storage containers about two stories up. It was fun , and probably the most difficult thing to navigate across during the course.
I was given a generic t-shirt at registration. It was advertised that “each runner will receive a high quality Crons shirt with registration”, and well, that’s NOT what we got. One of my friends got a kick butt V-neck, super soft, women’s specific T shirt with updated logos on the front and back (that I assume was the aforementioned Crons shirt). I asked if I could trade mine for one of those, but it seemed they had run out (and we were first in line for registration Sunday morning). I was super bummed, as that was one of the nicest race shirts I’ve ever seen. I think they may have resorted to last years left overs or something, I’m not sure.
And finishers item? Well there wasn’t one. No medal, no sweatband, not a shirt that said “finisher”, nothing. I know some people don’t care about such things, but I think it’s a great touch to a race, for numerous reasons. Call me sentimental, but I like these sorts of things. Plus, when you have first timers (I ran with 4 of them), it means A LOT for them to bring home a finishers memento from their very first race. Anyone can register, get their t-shirt, and **NOT** run the race. Only finishers get the bling (headband, whatever).
A COOL ADDED TOUCH was the ability to reserve a point-of-view video camera from “POV Adventure” from the race. My pal Mindi chose to do so, and we let Geoff run with it on his head. It was very easy to reserve, pick up, and drop off. The coolest part is that POV Adventure will do the editing, and set it to music, so in the end we will have a professional video of our race adventure. I can not WAIT to see it, and I’ll certainly share it with all of you when it is done!
***Entry fee for the Southwick Rugged Maniac was provided to me for free, however, all opinions expressed are my own.
Heather Hart is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), UESCA certified Ultrarunning Coach, RRCA certified Running Coach, co-founder of Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching, and creator of this site, Relentless Forward Commotion. She is a mom of two teen boys, and has been running and racing distances of 5K to 100+ miles for over a decade. Heather has been writing and encouraging others to find a love for fitness and movement since 2009.