Are you Rugged?

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Today, I ran a race unlike any race I’ve ever run.  It’s called a Rugged Maniac 5k.  You can check it out here.  It is most definitely not your typical 5k race.  There is mud up to your ankles, barbed wire forcing you to crawl in the mud, walls to scale, tunnels to crawl through, swinging tires to duck and weave, tangled pipe webs to maneuver through,  rope ladders to climb, fire pits to leap and oh yeah, 3.2 mils to run.  Insane?  You betcha.

Back in February a friend of mine mentioned wanting to run this race.  I thought it sounded crazy but exciting.  So, using my powers of persuasion I convinced Brian, his sister and her fiancé, and my coworker to join me in putting our ruggedness to the test. 

The alarm sounded at 6am.  Our heat started at 10am but there was an hour and a half drive to the race destination.   After snoozing for a bit we finally drug ourselves out of bed to get dressed and eat a good breakfast before the race.  We purposely donned crappier running attire knowing our clothes may wind up ruined.  And having viewed pictures of other races and what you look like after you finish, changes of clothes and towels were also packed.

Here we are on our way. 

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We arrived at the parking “lot”, which was really just a big cow pasture, and I could smell all the onion grass in the field.  In fact, the onion smell was so powerful I immediately started gagging when I got out of the car.  But anyway, the rain the day before had turned the field into a tricky parking area with lots of muddy ruts.  We were beginning to have serious reservations about getting the car out of the lot later!  Walking over to the loading area (you had to ride a shuttle from the parking area to the race start) I found myself complaining about having to walk through the mud.  My complaining was a bit ironic seeing as I had willingly signed up for a race knowing several obstacles involved crawling through mud.

Anyway, we quickly found the 5th person of our team and posed for a picture before catching the bus to the start.

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Registration went smoothly and we were soon ready to be corralled at the start line.  Taking off our extra layers was tough.  It was a bit chilly!  But nonetheless we were excited to get racing!  There were some pretty hardcore looking folks at the start line…and I’m sure we looked just as menacing…ok, not really.  I was shivering my tail off jumping around like an idiot trying to stay warm. 

Suddenly, it was time to start.  10, 9, 8….4, 3, 2, 1 GO!!!!  And off we went.  The first test was running over several motocross moguls.  Easier said than done…the track was covered in about 5 inches or more of thick, gooey mud.  I almost lost a shoe in the first 2 minutes of the race and wondered if I would even have shoes by the end! 

Within the first 2/10ths of a mile we were crawling on hands and knees under strings of barbed wire.  Oh, but we were crawling through a giant mud puddle.  Thankfully, the barbed wire was high enough above me that I didn’t have to put my knees down and avoided soaking my shirt and shorts.  BUT my arms got soaked and the cold water and air combined to make them feel like lead weights.

As we got through that obstacle and rounded a turn, my wet, muddy feet kind of went out of control.  I had no traction and my feet started slipping every which way.  I felt like one of those cartoon characters whose feet are moving faster than their bodies.  Except instead of having them propel me forward my feet just shot me, literally, off course and I fell. I got a good laugh out of it as I mentally pictured what I must have looked like!  My only battle wound of the day came from that!  I’m thankful it wasn’t worse considering all the crazy bruises I’ve accumulated recently from mountain biking.

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After surviving the switchbacks of the motocross track it was off to the woods.  At this point my body felt like giving up and we were maybe 1/2 a mile into the race.  I was beginning to wonder what in the world I had gotten myself into.  There were several walls we had to jump over or crawl under in the woods.  They were only about 5’ high so no boosting was needed.  Then we came upon this thing that Brian thought at first looked like some kid had built a fort in the woods.  Nope, it was a tunnel you had to crawl through.

This is getting long so I’m going to just do highlights now:

We had to climb a 20’ or so tall rope net thing and at the top you had to jump down onto this mat.  It was fun, but it was definitely the first obstacle where you felt like you could get seriously hurt!  We jumped over 2 fire pits, which weren’t that scary, but there was a lot of smoke…and the warmth was nice on such a chilly day!  We then had to scale these pretty tall walls.   They were probably about 7’ or 8’ high.  There was a ledge at about 3.5’ that if you could get to you could use to jump over the top of the wall.  Brian was able to boost me high enough so I could grab the top of the wall, get up to the ledge and clamber over the top.  It was a little nerve-wracking because so many muddy people had already gone over that the tops (being only 2” wide) were super slippery.  I was sure my hands were going to slip sending me spilling over uncontrollably.  But I didn’t….shew!  You jumped down to an air pad and then raced to the next wall.  There were 2 of these.

The final obstacle was this big water slide.  At the top the crew told us “go down any way you want, just don’t hold onto the sides.”  Well, there wasn’t any way I was going down other than feet first…there was no telling was lay in the bottom of that mud puddle!  And oh, down I went.  I hit the water and went completely under!  Once in the puddle, you had to go under or over these long buoys (there were 5 or 6).  I never realized how little lung capacity I had.  I could go under one then couldn’t catch my breath so I had to wait and then slowly go under the others.  I tried going over one but when I slid off the other side I tweaked my back so I thought going under was safer.  The scary part was that while I was going under, other racers were going over pushing the buoy down.  I kept thinking, what if this thing traps me underneath?!  A bit irrational, yes, but hey, I was exhausted at this point.  This is where Brian got his battle wound.  His leg caught the top of the slide and he got a good cut.

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Made it through the pit, up the incredibly slimy hill and across the finish line!  Not sure of our exact time but I’m thinking it was around the 30-35 minute mark.  Pretty happy with that! 

Wish we could have taken pictures during the race.  But if I had taken my camera it would have been any combination of the following: smashed, drowned, caked in mud, lost.

Here’s our rag-tag bunch after finishing!  Right after, still soaking.  Enjoying some post race refreshments and waiting for the bus to take us back to the car.

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Oh, and we were able to get the car out of the mud pit without getting stuck.  Good driving, Brian!  We also stopped at Johnson’s in Siler City on the way home.  Best burgers around!  Mmmm, yummy!

What a fun race.  I think we can confidently say:  Yes,we’re rugged!

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