For the second year in a row, I signed up for the Rugged Maniac. My friend Jerri who also raced with me last year was back for year two, along with Nikki, a friend of hers. We had also convinced another boot camp attendee, Venae, to race with us, so there were four of us. Nikki had never done an obstacle course and Venae is scheduled for shoulder surgery in a few weeks, so we knew we wouldn’t be fast, but we assured them it was all about fun and no one would get left behind.
Last year’s weather wasn’t bad, but was a little on the chilly side, especially in the water/mud obstacles, but this year’s weather was perfect for me. I was able to wear shorts, long socks to protect my legs, and a sports bra tank top. At 10:30 our wave started and we were off.
Jerri and I noticed right away that the trail we were running on seemed more dusty and less muddy than last year, so I wondered if we would get as muddy. The first obstacles we encountered were the Quad Burners and Trenches. You had to run up and over a “muddy” hill and then jump across the trench. Again, we noticed that the hills were bigger this year and there were definitely more of them. Already, we thought the course was a little more challenging. But we were having fun.
Next up was the Barricades – climbing over a wall with a moving cylinder on top. Success for everyone. Climbing Jacob’s Ladder was also not a problem. But up next was one where I thought we might get wet for the first time – the Frog Hop. This is one that got me last year because I tried to be conservative on my approach. Last year I thought if I could jump to the middle of one pad, regain my balance and then jump to the next, I could make it. Wrong. When I jumped to the second one I slid in. Not this year. As I approached, the volunteer said “middle and fast”. So I went to one I the middle and I just ran across. I didn’t even really think about what I was doing and the next thing I knew, I was across. I had mad it.
After climbing up a ladder to cross a bridge and climb a ladder back down we came upon Jump Start. This was basically crawling up and over a wall, but the bottom rungs had been taken away so that you had to use arm strength to initially get up. We figured it out and were on our way. As we came to Fenced In, it was the first real mud we encountered. It looked like everyone was going head first backside down and pulling themselves through, so that’s what we did. Backsides were officially muddy. It wouldn’t be long until the front side matched as the Commando Crawl was next. You always have to be careful in this one as hair or clothes can get caught in the barbed wire. Jerri’s hair did and some guy had to “unhook” her. We had a good laugh at that.
Tipping Point was next and was definitely more challenging than last year. Last year it was one of the first, so the boards were not really slippery and you could just run or walk up and over. Being right after Commando Crawl this year, they were VERY slippery. Working slowly and together we got down and moved on.
We climbed the cargo net at Let’s Cargo and then went through another mud pit at Head Scratcher. Then it was time to really get muddy and wet. As you Bang The Gong, the only place to land is in a pit of muddy water. Because of the warmer weather this year, it actually felt good. Then we went head first into Pipe Dream. Down the pipe into muddy water, under the barb wire, and up through the pipe to the other side. This one is trickier than it looks because you do have to use your strength to pull yourself up the pipe since you are wet and muddy.
The next obstacle was a new one and I was excited about it because it’s similar to a Spartan obstacle, but with less weight. We had to pull a heavy chain (about 30-40 lbs) up off the ground several feet. Mission accomplished.
Earlier in the race as we had been running between obstacles we had heard some loud pops. The race was held on a huge ranch, so we figured there might be a gun range close by or maybe some hunters (it is hunting season in Texas afterall). We thought it was a little weird it sounded so close, but we didn’t think they would put us in harms way, so we just went with it. Well, we soon realized where that noise had come from – The Guillotine. This was another new one. You had to lift a heavy board, crawl underneath it and then let it go. As you let it go, it made a loud pop.
Pack Mule (carrying a heavy weight) and the ladder cross were no problem. The Gauntlet was next. This was one that I crossed last year, but almost got knocked in. Not this year. As with Frog Hop, I just ran and as I ran, I threw the heavy hanging cylinders out of my way.
I was a little disappointed as we approached the Pyromaniac as there were no photographers anywhere in site. Jumping over fire is the classic picture everyone loves from these obstacle course races and I love my picture from last year (although it was Joel who took it and not the race photographers). Guess I wouldn’t get one this year.
Through some more mud and then to the obstacle that I have yet to master – The Ringer. I’m working on it, but upper body strength in the pull-up position is still not where it needs to be for this. Add water and mud to the rings and, well, I just didn’t get far.
The Crag was next and this one was a fun one. Think of bouncy houses. I have always loved those things and trampolines, so I jumped up one side, went over the top and bounced my way down.
When I got to Antigravity, I knew I wanted to wait until my lane was clear to go since I was going to jump high. When the girl in front of me was at the top of the wall, I decided I would be ok and went.
Well, when I went to take my final bounce on the trampoline to propel myself onto the wall, I realized she was still there and had to jump sideways. I almost landed on top of her. I think I freaked her out. Oops.
After that it was up the Warped Wall, across Mount Maniac and down the Accelerator to the finish line. As we lined up for the Warped Wall, I looked for the biggest guys to help me get up. I made eye contact and took off. I grabbed their hands, but am not really sure I needed them as I ran high enough up the wall that my foot planted on the top and over I went. One lady after me was able to grab their hands, but couldn’t get her feet up and over. She had to slide back down and try again. I was still waiting on the rest of my group, so when she tried again, I grabbed one of her legs and the three of us helped her get over. Loud cheers and claps erupted from the crowd. This is what I love about these kinds of races. Most people do it for fun and really encourage and help each other.
When the rest of my group got up, we crossed the cargo net and got in line for the new, higher Accelerator. We made it where all four of us would go down together. Oh my gosh, what fun!
We were all laughing at the bottom and then I was like, “Guys, we aren’t done. We still have to cross the finish.” We got out of the landing pit and headed toward the finish line.
Once again, we had a blast and I’ll be doing this race again.