Written by- Jeff Cole
If you combine a lot of mud, 25 innovative obstacles, three miles of wooded/motocross/open field terrain and a family friendly festival area you’ll get the New Jersey Rugged Maniac. It felt like a mad scientist developed this epic course. Rugged Maniac had everything anyone could want in a OCR. If you got to participate in either Saturday or Sunday (some people even participated both days or ran multiple laps) then you experienced a fun and very muddy event.
Let’s talk about the mud for a few minutes. We encountered mud from about the quarter-mile mark to well past the finish line. This isn’t an exaggeration. There was mud all over the course. I’m not sure if it was planned this way or not (rainy weather on Saturday may have added some extra water), but this was the most mud I’ve encountered all race year. This was definitely the most underestimated obstacle of the day. If Rugged Maniac planned that amount of mud then kudos to the race director for a job well done.
We spent the majority of our time on the motocross course. Rugged Maniac did a great job of utilizing the dirt mounds and the high bank corners to make the course challenging, yet manageable for everyone. Up until the first water station we were in the woods and came out covered in mud. There were trenches we had to cross that were filled with waist-high mud and a barbed wire crawl through thick muddy soup. At this point my forearms were completely buried in mud. There was no avoiding any of it. After we got onto the motocross course everyone was able to spread themselves out a lot better and handle the obstacles with little to no wait time. After mile two and until about the finish line we entered the stunt track course with another round of obstacles that greeted us. For those that wanted to run this was much better terrain to stretch your legs. All of us enjoyed this style of course.
All of Rugged Maniac’s signature obstacles were present with some new ones for me. Shoe Catcher, The Gauntlet, The Trenches, Ninja Escape and Frog Hop were literally tripping everyone up. At Shoe Catcher some people actually lost their shoes and left them behind. I haven’t seen that before. The Ringer was pretty difficult because all the rings were covered in mud and hard to grip. After two attempts I accepted defeat. I’ll be back next year seeking revenge. It seemed a lot of people were having difficulty with this one too.
By far the most challenging obstacle of the day was Commando Crawl. The slippery mud made it very hard us to navigate ourselves up an incline with barbed wire right above our heads. There was no traction for our hands or shoes. The best way to get through this obstacle was by using my elbows to dig into the mud and pull myself up. It wasn’t the easiest way, but it got the job done. This was also the part of the course I’d like to call the land of the lost bibs. There were bibs everywhere from those that lost theirs. I almost lost mine (thank you one last safety pin) and unfortunately, Tyler lost his. I’d like to know just how many were found there.
The Accelerator was the very last obstacle and the most fun on the course. I don’t think I’ve slid down a faster slide than this one. We attempted to slide down in unison, but failed horrendously. All of us wanted to do this obstacle again!
The obstacles that were new for me were Dragnet, Pipe Dream and The Blobstacle. At Dragnet we had to walk under a cargo net. I think we were supposed to crawl, but everyone was walking instead. Pipe Dream had a pipe I had to slide down then crawl under barbed wire then back up another pipe It was tricky because as a tall person it’s tough to move up narrow pipes. The Obstacle was a giant inflatable that I could only get up and over using the cargo net.
The Festival Area
Rugged Maniac’s Festival Area felt almost as big as the course itself. They had a huge area for vendors, the music stage, moon bounce, mechanical bull and seating. Almost all of the seating was under tents too. This was nice for people who didn’t want to be in the sun. Since we got there early we were able to play a game of cornhole and watch the stein holding contest. After the race we were able to catch the tail end of the pie eating contest. This was the type of festival area that runners could bring their family and friends to and not worry about them being bored. It’s truly a day for the entire family!
I got a different finisher medal this time. I’m not sure if this was planned or not, but receiving a different one was nice. The t-shirt was the same, a soft cotton shirt. There were a lot of vendors giving away free stuff too! I don’t think anyone left empty handed.
Quotes From The Team
After the event was over I asked everyone from the JAM! Just Another Mile team their thoughts and what their favorite part of the race was. Below are their responses!
Cait: “The amount of obstacles for the distance. It truly was a mud and obstacle course.”
Keith: “The course was well designed and had good obstacles.”
Lauren: The slide was my favorite of course!! I also think the location they chose was great because all the motoX hills made for an added challenge, unlike the usual flat boring areas between obstacles in other races.”
Tyler: “The atmosphere. It was a lot of fun, a lot of stuff to do, good location, nice people and well put together.”
We estimated it took about 1:15 minutes to complete this course. It wasn’t a runners course, with all of the mud, so that time was decent for walking and jogging.
Check-in was easy. Cait forgot her ID, but was still able to race. Don’t forget your ID!
FREE Bag Check!
I was told the Harpoon beer was good. Everyone got to choose from a couple different beer options.
Parking was $10.00, but spectators were free. This was good for people who brought family and friends along.
Everyone was utilizing the post race showers. They weren’t the best, but at least they worked and provided us with an area to rinse off. We all really needed it.
They had plenty of water for runners at the water stations and at the finish line.
There were small lines at Lets Cargo and Warped Wall. They moved quickly.
To get into the starting corral we had to give our start time tickets to one of the event services representatives. This prevented people from jumping ahead in wave times and kept any of the heats from getting overcrowded.
There were plenty of volunteers and medical personnel on site.
The NJ Rugged Maniac was awesome. We had a great time together and each us would do this race again. Rugged Maniac is my favorite OCR right now and in my opinion the best 5K obstacle race in the sport. There was one common theme amongst everyone I saw on Sunday. Everyone was having fun. I didn’t see one person not laughing or smiling before, during or after the race. Do yourself a favor and sign up for a Rugged Maniac (and use the promo code- MUDRUNFUN to save $5!) I promise you won’t be disappointed after you finish.
All photos are courtesy of Blubird Images.