So how do you battle not feeling like writing or working out? I guess you “accidently” schedule two super fun events back to back to end the summer! The first was Rugged Maniac New England and the second was Cycle Martha’s Vineyard. More on the bike ride next time; this update is about all things Rugged!
First things first, new team shirts! Designed by a wonderful friend, Katie.irst, I need to thank my great friend Katie who designed the teams awesome shirts! We always name the team after the blog but we never had a great shirt to go with it. Thanks to Katie we were looking very stylish in our shirts. I also want to thank everyone who came out to run this race. My best friend Norm ran his second race with us and my sister in law Beth flew all the way from Florida to run. Best of all, my wife made her Rugged Maniac debut after a huge assist from the race organizers. Also in the list of “thank yous” is one for my father in law who took a ton of great race photos, all images here were taken by him.
I cannot say enough about how helpful and friendly they were in helping Katie find a last minute spot due to cancellation as well as keeping the entire team on the same start waive. Every year Rugged Maniac puts on a great race and the staff does whatever they can to make each person’s experience a positive one. I emailed the staff a week prior to see if there was a way to get Katie in because of a cancellation on the team and they came through. Then there was an issue with start times where we somehow were split up and they were able to help again. Even the volunteers out on course were on another level from other races, cheering for the team and encouraging everyone. Again, I can’t say enough good things about this race staff and volunteer group.
Along those same lines I need to say a few things about the venue. Running an obstacle race on a motorcross track is a stroke of brilliance. Most other local races seem to struggle with creating obstacles on a flat course; Rugged Maniac had the great idea to make the entire course an extra obstacle! The jumps and landing zones made great hills and the low spots between gave the organizers a great starting place for many water obstacles. On top of that the series has really benefitted from the infusion of funds from the Shark Tank investors. The manufactured obstacles were better than ever. The pacing was spot on as well. I never felt like I was running to far between each obstacle and they were varied enough where I never felt like I was crawling through another barbed wire crawl just because the race needed one more obstacle and it was the easiest thing to do.
Lastly, before I get around to writing about my race I should mention the after party. This is one of the rare races that actually spends time and effort on getting the party right. There is a hosted competition of games, from pull ups to holding a beer at arm’s length there is a game for everyone. There is a mechanical bull and live music. There is food. Sooooo much good food. Oh, and a free beer if you are old enough and interested.
In addition to all of our guests the usual suspects ran the race as well. Angie recovered nicely from her injury in the Gaylord Gauntlet and ran well. Ronna, Steve, and Joe also ran well. Clint ran away from us and then ran back. He even did some of the obstacles twice while he waited for us. The biggest surprise to me is that I ran well too. Really well. I was able to run well enough that I could almost see where I was before I kept hurting myself all summer. I wasn’t as fast or as strong as I was, but I could almost feel it as I went through the obstacles. I held onto the ring cross longer than I thought, and came thisclose from getting up the warped wall. It was just enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can get back, and this is the race I could almost see being there. It is huge for me.
The best thing about running obstacle course races is the messy fun that breaks up the monotony of a normal race. I run to train for cycling and to train for OCRs. I run 5Ks and other races for charity or for the experience but I never really enjoy running. It is very different running an OCR! You run until your team hits an obstacle and then you all work together to clear it. Sometimes it’s fairly easy, you jump a small wall and then cheer on your team. Other times you hit a 15 foot high wall and you have to help your teammates over that are scared of heights. Or talk the claustrophobic ones through the sewer pipe crawl. Or untangle a teammate’s hair from the barbed wire. No matter what the race is always challenging your limits in every way which keeps things extremely fun. Races like this quickly turn from intimidating to addicting. My wife started the summer deathly afraid of OCRs and now she is looking for the next challenge.
I said a lot of positive things about Rugged Maniac New England in the beginning of the story, but in any review or recap the real result is would you run the race again? Would you recommend the race to friends and even put your hard earned money down? The answer is this, my entire team has already signed up again. There was a booth in the finish fest for pre-registration for 2016 and no one even hesitated. Once again I will put out the call to anyone wanting to join us. Team Big Joe’s Soap Box will run again next fall in Southwick Massachusetts, who wants to join in?