Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rugged Maniac 2016 NJ - A Mud Run Done Right

Rugged Maniac NJ 2016


On July 10th I participated in the tri-state Rugged Maniac, which is now the 9th obstacle race I've done. You can check out the full list of events of this kind I've done on the Race Recaps page of the blog, but it includes everything from mud runs to inflatable obstacles to urban events.

I wrote a typical race recap post the day after the event, but instead I want to take some time to tell you all why I think you should try a mud run (or obstacle race, whichever term you prefer), and why Rugged Maniac should probably be the one to try.


But, before you get into all that, check out my best GoPro editing work of all time, my teams Rugged Maniac experience in 4 minutes 44 seconds, complete with a bunch of comical fails, mud, and funny commentary. This video shows the essence of the event better than my words in a blog post ever could.



Now that you have watched that masterpiece, let me first tell you, I am not one to repeat any type of event over and over again. I'm usually the person that rolls their eyes when someone tells me they visit the same resort on the same exact week for vacation every year. I'm a firm believer that variety is the spice of life, and new experiences are what it is all about.

This is why I'm shocked to tell you that I've done 2 Rugged Maniacs already, and am planning on signing up to do it again next year. It's that awesome!  In 2013, this was my first event of this kind and the obstacles were entirely different. It was more of the original format with more climbing walls, ropes, etc, but still a ton of fun. Ever since Mark Cuban became an investor from Shark Tank, the obstacles have gotten a makeover and are now even more fun that before, and you can guarantee that the bigger budget means more innovation and well built (read safe) obstacles.

I signed up for the Rugged Maniac again after having just done the Warrior Dash 1.5 months prior. While it was a great time, the obstacles were a bit on the easier side and there were only 12, so I was itching for an event that had more obstacles but didn't send you up a mountain for 10 miles in the process.

REASON NUMBER 1: Innovative Obstacles - Rugged Maniac Aces this

In all the events I have done, I can honestly say Rugged Maniac has the obstacle line up perfected. There are the signature obstacles everyone is used to seeing at mud runs (E.G barbed wire, walls, etc) but also some of the more unique obstacles that you don't see anywhere else.

Rugged Maniac Barbed Wire
Love when I actually notice the race photographers!

There are obstacles purely there for fun like AntiGravity (the trampoline to cargo net obstacle) but there were also obstacles that were challenging to even the fitter people of the bunch, like the Ringer.

Rugged Maniac the Ringer Fail
Epic Fail on the Ringer, but so much fun!

REASON NUMBER 2: It's just challenging enough 

In fact, the Ringer is probably one of the most genius obstacles on the course. It's so simple - traverse a set of rings over a pit of muddy water, yet so difficult at the same time. I came into the event thinking I would be able to complete it since I had been training my grip at the rock gym for a few months. Boy was I so, so wrong. My hands were covered in mud, the rings were covered in mud, and I was just completely unprepared for how much harder it is to grip in those conditions. Combine that with that fact that I hadn't ever really practiced on rings before, (I mean, it's not like there's a ring set waiting for me at the gym or even at a jungle gym nearby) and this was really tough - I failed at the first transition. But, not so tough that I don't think I can come back next year and complete it for redemption, and therein lies the genius of the obstacles. 

Rugged Maniac the Ringer
Pre Fail - I was concentrating so hard haha



Rugged Maniac the Ringer
Brian was one of the few that nailed the ringer

REASON NUMBER 3: You don't get to test your fitness in this way every day

Other obstacles that likely have this same redemption effect are the warped wall, and some of the balance obstacles (hello Ninja Escape.) I (and I'm sure many other people) will come back not only because it was one of the most fun things I did this year, but because I don't have the opportunity to test my fitness in this way anywhere else, except at maybe another mud run if it comes to the area.

Rugged Maniac Fire Jump
We don't get to test our vertical leap over fire every day...
Even the mud in itself brings on a challenge, as running in shoes covered in mud, over more slippery mud, is way harder than running on the pavement of a road race. I'm not really trying to compare per say, just trying to say that it's not comparable because it is THAT DIFFERENT. Sure you can get muddy on a trail run, but unless you throw yourself in a mud puddle and roll around a bit, it's still not quite the same...

Honestly though, for me it's not even about the mud. The mud makes for an entertaining video and some good photo ops, and does give that added challenge, but the obstacles could even stand alone as attractions in themselves. Raceway park happens to be one of the muddiest venues in existence in the USA, which you most definitely have probably realized from the video, but I would totally sign up for a muddles version of this race just for the obstacles. (Rugged Maniac, this means you should totally set up an urban version of your event!)

REASON NUMBER 4: You get to enjoy an awesome festival afterwards

Rugged Maniac Swag
All cleaned up and enjoying the festival

After completing the 25 obstacles over the 3.1 miles, I really felt like I got a great workout and awesome experience for the money spent - but the day wasn’t over. There was still a festival to enjoy with free beer, a mechanical bull, sumo costumes, stein throwing and pull-up competitions, etc. Rugged Maniac has more entertainment than I’ve seen elsewhere at these type of events.

REASON NUMBER 5: Rugged Maniac has top notch swag

Rugged Maniac Swag
Awesome shirt and finisher medal

If I haven't convinced you this is the best yet, let me tell you about the race t-shirts. They are women's cut and have an awesome logo of a buff woman on the front. No generic race shirt here! The finisher medal is pretty sweet too.

REASON NUMBER 6: You've been making excuses this whole time on why you “can’t” do a mud run, and Rugged Maniac is about to change your mind.

Maybe you're reading this and thinking that's all well and good, but the mud is disgusting and I hate being dirty.. Yes, it totally is kinda disgusting, but you are having so much fun that you don't care! It will wash off after the event, don't worry!

Rugged Maniac NJ after photo
We are super dirty, but still smiling!

Or, maybe you're reading this and thinking you won't be able to do the obstacles or you will get hurt. I don't have hard statistics on this one, but I highly doubt many people completed all the obstacles. I saw people failing on obstacles left and right, myself included, and no one cares or judges. It's all for fun, and strangers will even help you along the course because everyone is in it together and we all want to succeed! On top of that, the crowd extremely diverse. In the starting corral, we had a group of teenagers to our left and people 20 years older than me to my right some extremely fit and some at the beginning of their fitness journeys,… How awesome is that?

As for getting hurt, yes it's possible you could get hurt attempting an obstacle. Or you could get hurt falling in your shower (me last month), or slicing rolls for a BBQ (Brian last week.) Danger is in everything we do, but if you train and focus on the obstacle at hand, it is more likely you will come out with a few scrapes and bruises at most.

REASON NUMBER 7: You need to get out of your comfort zone more, and you will for this 3.1 miles

This doesn't really apply to just Rugged Maniac, but to life. If your the marathon runner most days, change it up and become an obstacle racer for just 1 day out of the year! Because, why not?

That completes my advocating for Rugged Maniac, and obstacle racing in general, so now I'm gonna go sign up for 2017. If I've convinced you to go for it, you can use code NJ2017 to sign up for the Tri-State NJ event. But hurry, because it will expire July 29th!

Have I convinced you to do a mud run yet?



(P.S. Rugged Maniac is not paying me or compensating me in any way for this, they don't even know I wrote this post... I just really love this event!)

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