RuggedManiacA brisk, but sunny September morning in southern Indiana made for a great race day.  The downhill start meant that people were going to go out fast and they did.  At the onset I immediately found myself in 4th or 5th trailing some really fast runners.  The terrain, dappled in shade, was tricky to interpret as we ran into the sunlight and I kept telling myself “just don’t get hurt”.  The Spartan World Championship is in Vermont this weekend and I can’t afford to be injured.  A turn brought us back up one of the many ski slopes with some walls, hanging tires, and another big wall impeding us.  Running like a maniac down the next set of hills (see what I did there?), I made my way to the front and built a small lead.  From this point on, obstacles were lost on me, but there were some tunnels.  Tunnels through corrugated pipe.  Tunnels through the earth.  Tunnels coming out of mud crawl that required a rope to pull yourself up and through.  Rugged Maniac apparently loves their tunnels.  Somehow I went into one of the tunnels with a decent lead, but came out of the tunnel in a somewhat distant second.  Not exactly sure how that happened, but I’m not super fast crawling through small spaces.  The pack thinned and there were 4 or 5 of us battling for position as we went up and down hills and over a variety of walls.  I liked the tall a-frames with just horizontal slats.  A fast running start allowed you to run up the slats like a staircase.  At some point a mile or two in, I somehow lost the 2 guys directly in front of me.   Apparently, they inadvertently went off path and cut the course, missing some of the running and a few speed-reducing obstacles.  Sucks when that happens!  There was a cargo net climb to the top of a water slide and without hesitation, I sprang off the net straight into the slide.  Great gosh amighty that was a fast water slide!  Before I even had time to think about how I was going to hit the water, I was already bouncing across it.  After I came to a stop, I burst out of the pit.  All breath had been removed by the rapid submersion in the frigid bath.   I don’t remember what came next, but there were a couple of good creek runs.  I may or may not have stepped on a fish.  I briefly saw it as I was setting my foot down right above it.   Part of the course ran down an old dirt road and I just took the experience in.  Yes, this was fun.  The volunteers were fun.  Spectators on the course cheered as I ran by.  That alone kept me going at full speed.  I mean you can’t be slow when people are clapping for you.  Another bright spot of this race was when I heard a fraternity brother yell at me from across the course as he was making his way down a hill.  The final run was uphill to a cargo net climb, followed by a traverse across a 2×4 over a mud pit.  Up a large dirt mound and a sprint to the final obstacle.  I dove under the barbed wire and crawled as fast as I could toward the finish when I heard and noticed my buddy Brad Kloha (who would be running his gazillionth race at the next wave) cheering me on and taking pics.  I converted to a fast roll and heard people commenting on that approach as I came out of it.  I stared at the ground for a couple of seconds to shake the dizziness and then sprinted across the line.

RM-BradAs it stands currently, my time was good for 4th place.  No podium, but official results aren’t in, so I don’t know if the two guys who accidentally went off course will be DQ’ed or not.  I hope not for their sake.  Regardless I had a blast.  After chatting with Brad for a couple of minutes, I hosed off at the shower, got my daughter out of the truck, and went back to the finish line to await my wife who was also racing.  We were just in time as she came around the corner, my daughter cheering her on.  She finished 7th among females and 47th overall.

What else can I say about my first Rugged Maniac?

Registration and packet pick-up was smooth.
Course was well-marked… least it was for me and I’ve been known to go off track when out in front.
Band was great.
Parking was onsite, plentiful, and close by.
Emcee did a great job.

Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  Maybe they’ll give me another free pass….??  Hint!  Hint!

WARNING: Shameless request to follow.

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