* From: Danielle Carrier
* Event: Rugged Maniac
* Date: 2015-09-26
* Event Details
The venue was fairly easy to find although I only saw one small sign. There was plenty of parking for 10 dollars per car. The lot we parked in was a short walk to the festival area and start line. Registration was slow. It took us 10-15 minutes to get up to the table. There seemed to be plenty of lines open and volunteers, I just think the procedure of assigning bib numbers, having people sign the waiver sheet, handing out t-shirts and putting on the bracelets for free beer/over 21 was time consuming and did not work efficiently. Bag check was free and easy. You had a tag attached to your bib that you zip tied to your bag and when you picked up your bag a volunteer made sure your bib and bag matched. Unfortunately I lost my bag and my ID was in my husbands bag but I was impressed that the volunteer was vigilant and asked me if there was anyway to prove my bag was mine. It was a bit of a hassle but I appreciated that someone could not easily walk out with someone else bag. The festival area had a great view of the start line and the warped wall with a good sized area to hangout and relax. There were plenty of port-a-potties and I never saw a line. The “showers” to rinse off were just a hose attached to a pipe with holes in it that gave you a trickle to rinse under but it was decent enough to get clean. Changing rooms were clearly marked as women’s and men’s.
Further down the line away from registration there were some tents set up with various items and samples. There was a stage that had music playing and different contests running throughout the day and a mechanical bull that people could ride. Harpoon was the provider for beer and they had 5-6 you could choose from including a Cider option for those who didn’t want beer. Food was available for sale. There were cheeseburgers and hot dogs in one area and then pulled pork (which was delicious) and grilled chicken in the other hut. Down this end of the festival area spectators could watch quite a few different obstacles and get closer to the course to take pictures.
T-shirts are a nice soft material and come in a men’s cut and women’s cut. The medal was a fairly big, nice, heavy medal
* Race Details
The course was fun. It wound all around the Motocross track and through the woods. The course was plenty wide to accommodate for a large volume of runners. Even the trails through the woods were 3-4 people wide so it was easy to pass safely.
The course made great use of the track and the jumps. Running in the sand definitely takes a toll on your legs and energy level and made things more challenging. Rugged Maniac takes the cake in creatively naming the obstacles. The obstacles were well constructed and very stable. There were 27 obstacles on the 3 mile course and they were spaced so that you never had to run for a long period of time without hitting an obstacle. There were many standard obstacles with walls of varying heights, crawls under barbed wire and through tunnels, cargo net, balance beams, and a wreck bag carry. It was definitely a good variety.
Obstacle highlights for me:
– The ringer: Rings suspended from a rig that you have to traverse by tarzan swinging between them (like they did on American Gladiators in Hang tough). If you fail (which I did) you fell into a nice waist deep water pool
-Accelerator: A giant water slide that can safely accommodate up to 16 people at once. Volunteer at the top did a great job of making sure the people at the bottom were cleared before the next group left and kept things moving efficiently.
-Antigravity: Jump on a trampoline up onto a padded wall with a cargo net, climb over to a ladder and the do it again. This had to be one of the most fun and creative obstacles of the day.
– Frog hop: Run across water via some floating boards/plastic floats. This was a lot tougher than it looked.
– The warped wall- Everyone wants a chance to channel their inner Ninja Warrior and this was a great chance to do that. There were plenty of volunteers up top to help hoist you up the rest of the way and most people who attempted it were successful. For those who didn’t want to attempt it there was a ladder option to get up to the top of the wall to proceed to the finish.
– Wreck bag carry: This obstacle was a 25 – 50 ft flat loop with either a 25 or 50 lb wreck bag. It was almost pointless. I would like this to be longer or include a hill or something to make it a little more challenging.
– Barbed wire crawls: I don’t mind crawling through the mud under barbed wire but there were 3 separate barbed wire crawls. I think the space could have been better utilized.
Overall I really enjoyed this event. It would be a great place to bring someone new to OCR and price wise this is definitely more reasonable than many others (I think 39 early-110 race day). We will be looking to do this race again next year.
* From: Kris
* Event: Rugged Maniac
* Date: 2015-09-26
* Event Details
Parking went very smoothly. I arrived at 9:30 so I even got to park in an actual paved parking spot. The registration/bib pick up went quickly because each of the 10+ volunteers had a complete list of racers so you could sign in anywhere. My friend switched wave times from 1:15 to 10:30 without issue at their customer service desk.
After the race, my friend went to the medical tent to get a band aid. They seemed delighted to have someone to treat. It didn’t look like they had been too busy.
That finishing medal was huge this year. 🙂
* Race Details
I ran from 10:15 – 11:30 (I’m a slowpoke) and didn’t really get stuck in any lines. It’s a Motocross track so there are MANY hills to jog up and down. I love the trampoline obstacle and the frog hop. My friend loved the water slide (which you can take multiple rides on if you want). I also appreciate that there was a little less barbed wire than last year (also loved the hill climb under barbed wire).
The trenches were a bit wide to jump across, but they were only 1-2 feet deep. The only obstacle I had a real issue with was the fire obstacle before the warped wall. The fire was a bit too high and wide for me (5’4″) and they were close enough together that I got an eye full of smoke from the next fire after leaping the first.
* From: Amy LaPanne
* Event: Rugged Maniac New England (Sunday)
* Date: 2015-09-27
* Event Details
Parking: Close & easy access to the venue, still $10. We were a little worried when we got there because the parking lot was empty but when we walked into the venue, we saw plenty of cars in the parking area by the baseball field.
Vendors: Lots of Harpoon choices, even cider with little to no waiting. Yummy Nesquick chocolate milk samples, Honey Badger energy drink, Vita Coco. Local rugby team looking to recruit some Maniacs. USO. Cool atmosphere for spectators between watching the racers and the other stuff going on (pull up contests, stein lifting contest), mechanical bull, etc.
Schwag: My favorite shirts every year because I can get a ladies cut shirt, and a small is actually a small! Cool logo on the front & back. Nice fabric – soft, not sheer & cheap like some other races shirts have been recently. The medal – McDang! The little poker chip from last year has morphed into a heavyweight belt buckle size medal with some serious heft to it, still rocking the muscle man logo on it. It’s cool as hell. I have a running buddy that I send medals to, and one of the sweet volunteers at the end of the race gave me an extra one to send to him. Can I confess though that I think it would be nice to have the muscle lady on the medal too?
Registration: Easy. No preassigned numbers means any line is available for check in. I really like that. I showed my id, got my number, t-shirt & beer bracelet within less than 5 minutes. My husband was using a race transferred from a friend, and while that line was a little long, everything was smooth and only cost $10, which I thought was fair.
Bag check: Free, and again, so easy. You tag your bag. You put your bag inside the tent. When your race is done, you go back to the tent, grab your bag, show the bag tag and your bib number and you’re out the door. No wait at all.
* Race Details
The course was very similar to last year, with a few obstacles just changing position or being combined, like Tipping Point and the Ninja Escape where they alternated a see-saw with the ninja steps. I don’t think there was anything new to the course, but some of the obstacles were improved upon. The perfectly placed Leap of Faith had a row of flames to leap over before we landed in the water, and I really hope my flying sidekick jump ends up looking cool on camera from that location. The jump was right in front of a huge spectator area and people were cheering on the runners. The fire department volunteers located at the obstacle offered their suggestions too (“The crowd seems to want belly flops with lots of splash” one of the guys said to me.).
The Ringer and the Warped Wall seem to be real highlights at this event, and I like them both. I got about 3 rings across the Ringer before I missed a ring and went in the pool, but was able to get up the Warped Wall on the first try. FYI, if you have not done the warped wall before and had your children witness it, this apparently scores major “cool points” because for the rest of the day my 12 year old son kept saying how proud he was of his dad & I for making it up the wall on our first try each.
2 obstacles disappointed me: The Trenches, and Pack Mule. Despite running early on Sunday, there was a lot of erosion at the trenches, so the leap wasn’t as far as it’s been and the trench wasn’t as deep as in prior years. It’s been so dry in New England so that may have had something to do with it. Pack Mule, which had been a short, but challenging, carry up a very steep slope with either a 25# or 50# wreck bag was now reduced to a tiny, flat circle. I grabbed the 50# bag and felt like I should have gone around the circle twice to make up for the lack of challenge, but we were moving on…
There was a minor medical problem at the Accelerator that backed it up momentarily, but the volunteers handled the situation well, the semi-injured person walked out of the obstacle, and it resumed and the back-up resolved quickly.
I will continue to go to Rugged Maniac races as long as I can race. This race is what a great race should be about – all fun, no hassle. The venue at Motocross 338 is very spectator friendly. There are risers to see the racers go all around the main part of the course, and plenty of walkways where they are needed. There are great areas to watch the start, finish and the Warped Wall obstacle, which is a huge crowd pleaser. The event has gotten better each year I’ve run it (3 now) with the quality and type of obstacles, schwag, and the way it is run. Every obstacle was well built, though I will say that we all commented on the overabundance of barbed wire. It’s a good, mid-level difficulty race with obstacles that can challenge you without being impossible.
Changing tents and portapotties were super clean this year when I was there, compared to last year. Every volunteer I interacted with was friendly and helpful. Changing the registration was only $10! This is so appreciated because my friends & I signed up for this race on Black Friday 2014 at an awesome price, and one of our kids couldn’t make it. “Another Race” coming up this Saturday in Connecticut would charge the difference between the price I paid, and today’s price and then tack on another $5 or something for the “convenience” – Not happening. Rugged Maniac, I will DEFINITELY see you next year!
* From: Nicole
* Event: Rugged Maniac NE
* Date: 2015-09-26
* Event Details
Getting to Moto-X 338 in Southwick, Ma was not very hard. While there was not any obvious amount of signage pointing you in the right direction, as you drove down Rt57, it was obvious where to turn thanks to the police officers directing traffic. This also made getting to the venue a breeze, as they handled the flow of traffic excellently. Upon driving up to the venue, plenty of volunteers were available to point you in the right direction, 3 available volunteers to take the $10 parking fee kept everything moving smoothly, and I was able to park within easy walking distance to the start.
As with last year, you walk under the last obstacle (warped wall to ladder wall to cargo net to ladder wall descent) to enter into the event. Everything is right there; registration to your left (where it seems as though all the runners who’ve yet to run have gathered into a chaotic mess), straight ahead are the volunteer check-in, bag check (free!!), showers (aka light water falling station), shoe collection, and changing stations. This is followed by entrance to the festival area, where you could find many vendors, free samples, the music stage (which was rocked out by a DJ and festival emcee this year, versus a live band that there had been in previous years), beer (provided by Harpoon with 4 different beer options and their hard cider), and some pretty affordable food. They also had a merchandise tent (which was incredibly mobbed), as well as a tent where you can sign up for next year’s race for $39 (can’t be beat). And also from this area you could access the bleachers and get to see much of the race course. To the right of the entrance was the start and finish lines, with another emcee working up the runners in the corral. This event has free spectators, and it is obvious that the perk is well taken advantage of, as there are possibly just as many spectators milling about as runners.
Thanks to Chris Loiselle, I got a last minute entry, so my goal upon arriving was to find him. Thankfully, he knows the set-up well, and was incredibly easy to find. We head over together to the registration tent to the side which is for registration changes (of any sort). The lines were not as bad as I’ve seen them in the past at this event for regular registration, but not as streamlined as I’ve seen at many events. Check-in got you your over 21 bracelet, your free beer bracelet, your bib with your time written on it, and your t-shirt. The t-shirt is hands down one of my favorite t-shirts from all the races simply because it is female cut!! As a petite girl, if you want me to wear your shirt, give me one made for females! Isn’t that the point of giving out t-shirts? Give the runner something to remember the race and give you free advertising. If you’re not catering to your clientele and the shirts are just ending up in a drawer, forever forgotten, you’re both losing (end soap box rant).
My biggest complaint about this event is that there is no where to easily meet your teammates and friend if you arrive separately. No biggest team tent offered. And the layout of the festival/check-in area is not friendly to those who are in search of others. Add that to the fact that they do not group teams or even make it easy for teams to sign up the whole team in one wave without outside chatter, this is a bit of a nightmare for me. I think if they were willing to either offer a team tent, or space for a team tent and/or were willing to group all the people who sign up under “NE Spahtens” into a morning and/or afternoon wave, this event would be so much more exciting for me. As it was, I was only to spot 5-6 Spahtens on my own before running on Sunday, and I know we had minimum 25 people there.
After check-in, I was lucky enough to find two of my favorite people ever, and then were joined by a few more, so I quickly swapped out shoes (note: Icebugs were not the smartest choice for this event) and put my gear in bag check. This was pretty quick and easy. Pull off the bag check tag attached to your bib, they give you a zip tie, attached said tag to your bag, then go and find your bags resting place in the tent. I was a bit off put that anyone could enter the area, however, one small exit and a volunteer dedicated to checking to make sure bibs and tags matched put my worries to ease. I reminded myself not to lose my bib! Truthfully, most of the cars were close enough to walk to, so if you had a place to safely store your car key, then bag check wasn’t overly necessary, but it was so convenient, and free, that I couldn’t see taking the walk back to car!
Once it was time, I headed to the corral with a few (mostly new to me) Spahten friends. This year, they had 2 volunteers who would collect the part of your bib with your time on it (which you could rip off), and that is how they attempted to prevent people from running multiple laps for free, and people jumping heats. Was this fail proof? No. Volunteers could easily be overwhelmed with people attempting to drop their tag, that it was quite easy to just throw any tag in there, regardless of time, or even get lost in the crowd. The new $25/additional lap was not well liked. It definitely stopped me from running additional laps that I would have, considering the distance I traveled versus the distance of the race. Considering the past had free extra laps, this was a bummer. Considering their growth, it sort of felt like a money grab to me.
* Race Details
This was an untimed course unless you paid an additional $20 for a timing chip to run competitively in any wave. Take that as you will. One thing I will have to say is that this course is FUN. The motocross track offers nice little rolling hills and plenty of places to add water obstacles. There was more mud and water obstacles here than any other race I’ve done this year (and I’m at 15+) and plenty of barbed wire crawls in the mud to get you dirty. They also chlorinated the water (the muddy water definitely smelled like pool water), to help put all those “you might lose an eye to bacteria” excuses in the dust. The trails are very well marked and even when we were separated from the crowd and I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going, I was never once in danger of getting lost. There were about 25 obstacles in the 3.1mi stretch and spaced out well so you never ran for a long time. At least 3/4 of the obstacles was something anyone could do who would show up to one of these races. This allowed the race to be very beginner friendly. There were no penalties for failed obstacles or choosing not to do an obstacle. There were a lot of beginners out there too, which was great! There were a few obstacles that still gave the seasoned veteran, like me, something a little more difficult, and it’s those obstacles that keep me coming back for the fun of it! I was very proud to know I could have finished the rings (I bent a nail back and after I decided to fix it, I was stuck with one hand on the ring and couldn’t swing myself hard enough to reach the next one), and that I got up the warped wall with (almost) no help.
This is my third year running Rugged (2012, 2014, 2015) and I still love it. There isn’t overly much space to work with, but they still managed to change the course to keep it fresh. There was only one or two things on the course that just didn’t work (the near pathetic wreck carry), and there were changes to old obstacles that were awesome (fire at the ledge of “Leap of Faith” was a personal favorite). They had a water stop at every mile marker and full bottles of water to offer at completion (as well as some fruit and a medal). It’s hard for someone like me to be truly challenged at a race catered to beginners, but I enjoy it so much that I still go back!
On site parking
Awesome festival area
Free spectators and very spectator friendly
Free bag check
Beginner friendly without being boring to veterans
Funny signs/well marked course
Some obstacles are too easy
No catering to teams (either in festival or with wave times)
Costly multiple laps for a non-timed event
* From: Glenn Tonkin
* Event: Rugged Maniac
* Date: 2015-09-26
* Event Details
Parking was very easy, $10 per car, I arrived around 9 am so I was able to park on a ball field just outside the main entrance, close enough to walk back and forth at any point during the day.
Registration was plain and simple took about 10 minutes. I was well staffed and you were able to use any line as they all had a complete list of registered racers. I was even able to move my starting time up without hassle, did require standing in another line but it was quick and painless as staff was eager to help which was greatly appreciated.
There were plenty of portable toilets and I never saw any lines of racers waiting for them.
Bag check was very simple, tear your tag from your bib, attach it to your bag with a zip tie, put it wherever you wanted to in the tent. When you picked it up, a volunteer checked your race bib to make sure you had the right bag.
The race shirt seems to be a good quality tee, fits true to size. The finisher medal is kinda cool and has a bit of weight to it as well.
Festival area :
The beer tent was easy to get to, no lines that I noticed with a handful of options to choose from. A couple different food vendors were available anything from burgers to pulled pork and grilled chicken sandwiches.
The stage was lively with different competitions from pull ups to beer stein holding events with a variety of music going all day. I did think that the area was a little cramped but I guess that was all the room they had to work with due to the motocross track layout.
* Race Details
The race itself was a lot of fun to run, they made good use of the track layout offering multiple hills to go up and down. The sand of the track made for a good workout on the uphills and you had to be aware of your footing on the downhills to prevent wiping out.
Obstacles were varied from simple dirt mounds to go up and down to plenty of barbed wire crawls ( the wire was remarkably higher than that at the Boston Sprint last month, I can’t recall the guy who helped set those up) anyways there was a few different water related obstacles as well as fire jumps to see saw balances etc. The highlight of the obstacles was both the water slide ( a fair amount of speed was able to be generated on it) and the warped wall, for everyone’s inner American Ninja.
I ran at 11:45 in the morning and there were plenty of volunteers on the course who all were very encouraging.
Finish line offered cold water, orange slices and banana halves to refuel.
As far as difficulty went I would compare this race to something like the Down and Dirty race, although it was certainly a little more challenging. Overall a great event to bring new people to as well a seasoned OCR veterans who might want a fun race day. I ill go back again.
* From: Josh Chace
* Event: Rugged Maniac – Southwick, MA
* Date: 2015-09-26
* Event Details
Southwick, MA isn’t exactly a hotbed for the OCR community. The only time i’ve heard the name before was in reference to the Southwick Zoo. After this past weekend though, I’m thinking an annual trip to Southwick, MA may be in order as Rugged Maniac, the brainchild of Boston’s Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder, bankrolled by Shark Tank entrepreneur, Mark Cuban uses Southwick as the location for it’s flagship event. If you caught the episode of Shark Tank where the owners were pitching Rugged Maniac, they struggled to differentiate their product from the likes of Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash. I shared the same mindset but the old addage stands tall — “Don’t knock it ’til you try it.”
Rugged Maniac was held at Motocross 338, an outdoor motocross/ATV track and terrain course. Seemingly a perfect fit for an obstacle course event as you’ve already got a pre-carved out track, built in obstacles, and a spectator seating. Arrival was easy, as parking was right nearby, organized neatly across the nearby baseball fields (sorry for driving over your pitchers mound!) The standard $10 parking fee was.. well.. standard.
The festival area surrounded you quickly as you walked under the cargo net bridge to enter it. Crowds were gathered at the starting corral, as well as the warped wall where spectators and racers alike cheered on runners to get up that slanted beast – the mark of a good festival area is one where everyone feels like they’re part of the event, not just occupying space while they try and keep their eardrums from bursting from some local DJ’s desire to pump techno at 8am. No, Rugged had their festival area well organized, and packed in well enough to be convenient. The layout made perfect sense. Registration table and check in were well done, and here’s why. You show up and sign in, they give you the next bib number in line. No worrying about getting your bib numbers before the event or bugging your friends on Facebook about why they aren’t posted on the website yet. Timing chips on some pesky little bracelet that you need to bug Mama Hen to trim for you? Nope. A disposable timing tab that you can attach to your shoe, or slip inside your sock. Once I put it there, I immediately forgot about it, that’s the sign of a perfect piece of race gear. Once I was ready to go, I needed to stow my gear – guess what? Bag check was FREE. Self service too. Pop in to drop stuff off. Forget to put sunscreen on, white boy? That’s fine, pop back in and apply! And the best part? Rugged even gives you a clear plastic bag to store all your dirty gear in, so as not to ruin your car on the ride home. Small simple logistical choices by Rugged continued to impress, and I hadn’t even run yet.
Rugged does both timed and untimed versions of their races. For a small fee, you can run in one of the first waves of the day, and pit yourself against the other racers who paid a very easy to swallow $10, timing fee. I opted for a timed race, as I was interested to see what the competition was like at an event that wasn’t dominated by sponsored athletes and women who could curl my bodyweight. We filtered into the starting corral and were greeted with the typical hype-man intro, motivation music (props to the techno Imperial March track choice), and countdown to race time. I will also add, that your wave started EXACTLY as advertised. They had a clock right at the starting line, and they stuck to it. Punctuality is a trait lacking in this industry. Rugged nailed it.
* Race Details
The clock struck 10:30a and we were off. Rugged boasts a 5K course, with 25 creative and fun obstacles. The course they have in Southwick is perfect for this. It’s a re-purposed motocross dirt track (it appears to be closed for those events according to their website) so you’re snaking back and forth past earlier and later runners, all while navigating some seriously fun obstacles. Rugged isn’t claiming to be Spartan Race. No huge gimmicky rigs, no giant inflatable mammoths. “Natural” obstacles like rolling hills, dirt mounds, tunnels to run and crawl under, and trails carving through the woods between open areas. Every race has one or two obstacles that others don’t. Spartan has the rope climb, Tough Mudder shocks you, but Rugged had TONS of obstacles that I loved and had never done before – obstacles that were more about having fun, than breaking you physically. Could it be that this could be a FUN OCR? Inconceivable! Or not – hold on while I jump off a ladder onto a trampoline, up to another ladder! Trampolines are fun! Or, let me run at full speed across these floating platforms! As one woman who was struggling to maintain her balance put it, “He’s like Jesus!” After that, it was jumping over a fire into a huge pool of water, then a giant slide, some barbed wire crawls, a balance beam with huge red balls to dodge, again, all super fun yet not overly taxing obstacles. There was a Wreck Bag carry that was more about proving that you could finish it, rather than questioning whether you should try or not. The hardest obstacle of the day had to be either the swinging rings over water, which claimed a few laughing bodies into the cold water below, or the slick wall, which was part of the final obstacle. Thankfully, with the good natured crowd that was at Rugged, there was always a willing helper, hoisting folks up that struggled. Myself, NES Ginger Ninja – Kevin Grant, and a few others staked out there, pulling folks up over the wall, just enjoying the atmosphere of people succeeding where they had previously had failed.
After crossing the finish line at Rugged, I found myself smiling, and compartmentalizing how truly fun the event actually was. I was ready to go again! But first – that age old tradition – post race beers! Rugged brings Harpoon beer into their festival, always a solid choice. They also compliment their festival area with great audience participation events such as, jousting, mechanical bullrides, a stein-hoisting competition (Yup – I definitely attempted that one), and all kinds of other things to keep you busy.
All in all – Rugged Maniac puts on a FUN obstacle course race. After a season of intense races, and a week removed from Killington, it was great to be reminded as to why we run these events – to have FUN. Rugged was a great time, managed by Staff who makes great racer-friendly decisions, and an atmosphere of folks who just want to have the same fun. Props to them – this Spahten will be back again. In fact, I already registered for 2016. Did I mention it only costs $39? Yup. See you there.