2014 Denver Rugged Maniac

I ran this obstacle course race on July 26, 2014.  It was a fun event and one I would consider doing again if I could find a fun group to run it with.

Before:  Beforehand the race was pretty good.  Registration was easy but I was a little peeved with the nickel and diming they did during the process – insurance fees, defaulted contribution to the USO, a fee for timing, etc.  They have since changed that and advertise on their site that they have no surprise charges, “ever!”  Here’s a small tip that you may or may not want to count on if you are thinking about doing this race.  For the past two years there has been a half price coupon floating around after the early bird registration deadline.  The half price deal is about $10 better than the early bird discount, even with an additional discount code I found on www.mudrunguide.com added in.  The risk, of course, is that the coupon isn’t available or you can’t find it when the time comes.  And, there is also the risk that the wave you want will be filled before you sign up if you wait for the coupon.  I got an email in, I believe, early May that all morning waves were filled.

Check in couldn’t have been easier.  I showed up an hour early expecting long lines, but I only waited a couple of minutes.  Check-in itself only took a few seconds.  Check-in required showing a photo id (to get your “over 21” and free beer wristbands).  They also give you your t-shirt during registration.  Why do I mention this?  Because this is a mud run and you may not want to take your id on the course and risk losing it or have your nice new t-shirt get ruined on the course.

While check-in was easy, bag drop appeared to be a nightmare.  Luckily, I didn’t need to check a bag, but the line waiting to do so was almost 100 yards long when I made my way to the starting corral.  I wonder about the thinking that went into having 15+ people working the check in area and having only 2 people doing bag check.

Parking was ok.  There was limited parking in the moto-cross track itself, with the rest at Bandeimere with a few shuttle buses running between.  It was a less than 10 minute shuttle ride, but my family waited 45 minutes to get on a bus and missed my start by 15 minutes.  There is parking along the road.  For some big events, there are no temporary parking signs posted, but not for this one.  The race organizer was attempting to charge a parking fee to the people who parked on the street!  Sketchy.

My only complaint pre-race was the PA system.  This was done at a moto-cross track, so I suspect there is a booming PA system available.  But, they used a small setup at the start/finish line.  The group I was with couldn’t hear it from the registration area.  But, then again, we should all be adults and know what wave we signed up for and be at the starting corral on time.

During:  The race itself was fun.  I was little surprised at just how steep this moto-cross track is!  They advertised 23 obstacles over 3.1 miles, but they easily could have counted the climbs as obstacles.  The obstacles themselves were fun.  Some looked to be inspired by “American Ninja Warrior” (or, to be fair, maybe ANW was inspired by Rugged Maniac!), but on an easier scale.  For example, they had the alternating, slanted planks that you run/jump across, but it really was just a slightly longer and wider than normal stride and nothing that you really had to leap for.

Just a few notes about gear.  I wore all synthetic, wicking fabrics.  I didn’t wear skin tight lycra
type stuff (you can thank me later), but I did see several people who did.  I wore training type shorts, probably  8″ long over mid-thigh length compression shorts and a regular wicking workout t-shirt.  That seemed like a pretty good setup and I won’t hesitate to wear it again.  I wouldn’t go any baggier or longer with the shorts (ie, like wearing basketball shorts or man-pri’s) or wear anything with pockets.  You could make a fairly “clean” run of this and maybe not be submerged in mud up to your mid-chest, but I still think any pockets would be full of mud and stretch your clothes out of shape and be uncomfortable.  Baggier stuff will just be heavier with water than tighter stuff.

I didn’t wear gloves, but I saw a few people who did.  I saw the tight fitting construction/mechanic’s type gloves as well as the stretchy mesh with a rubberized palm type.  I also saw gloves left behind in an obstacle.  I doubt I’ll ever wear gloves, unless I do a run where it’s specifically suggested.

I definitely suggest appropriate footwear.  I noticed many times areas where people with regular road running shoes slid where I was able to run right along with my trail shoes (Brooks Cascadia 7).  Boots aren’t necessary, although I did see one guy wearing light hikers.  I saw a few folks with toe-shoes and even one barefoot runner.  I can’t confirm, but suspect that both slid just like the road running shoe folks and the barefoot runner really regretted his decision.  This course had a lot of sharp rocks, pea gravel and what appeared to be ground up asphalt.

There were also a lot of costumes and fashion statements happening.  I saw people running in jeans shorts and hiking boots, tu-tu’s and even a sarong.  Jeans shorts stretch and fall down.  And let me tell you, that sarong looked to be a couple feet longer than when the lady started, as it was wet, heavy, and dragging the ground.

I’ve been asked what my favorite obstacle was.  I have to say that it was Obstacle #0.  This is the entry into the starting corral.  It’s easy, just a short (around 4 feet) wall to jump over to get into the corral.  But, I just think it’s cool.  Sort of a confirmation of what you’re getting into.  If you can’t get into the corral, maybe you shouldn’t be running this event.

After:  Not a bad setup afterward.  They had water, bananas and oranges at the finish line.  There was also a company onsite with a few coolers of their sports drinks.  The beer was a disappointment – tallboy cans of Coors and Coors Light.  I’m a Colorado native and have drank many gallons of Coors products over the years, but definitely would have preferred something with a little more character than a standard mass market beer.  But, it was a free beer, so I can’t complain.  I didn’t stay for their “epic party”.

Overall:  It wasn’t too long and it wasn’t as difficult as I expected.  That being said, it definitely isn’t a run to do with absolutely no training.  I’ve done a couple of road 5k’s with nearly no training and tried to run as much of them as I could.  Those sucked and I felt terrible afterward.  I finished this one feeling pretty good and couldn’t imagine how bad I would have felt a year ago doing this with no training at all.  If you’re already pretty active (active as in exercising regularly, not active as in walking to and from your car at the office), there’s no need to bump up your training for this.  I was just running (2 miles +/-, 1-2 times per week) and mountain biking (5-10 miles, 2-3 times per week) and didn’t do anything extra.  But, that’s part of the point for me – just to keep a level of fitness where I can do this sort of thing, and feel good doing it, whenever I want without having to train for it.  I still can’t run a whole 5k without walking, but I can finish one and run most of it.  And feel great when I’m done!

I would have liked to see better trash handling.  By the time I left around 12:30p, all of the trash cans were overflowing.  And there were a lot of recyclable items that should have gone to a recycle bin rather than the trash, but there were no recycle bins.  I drove by on Sunday afternoon (the race was on Saturday) and the place was covered in trash – mostly gallon water jugs, water bottles, and beer cans.  I’m sure the organizer cleaned it up, but a lot of the cleanup and sorting all those recyclables could have been done on the fly throughout the day with bigger and MANY more cannisters, more cleanup throughout the day, and the availability of recycle bins.

My last comment is for anyone thinking of doing this.  This is an obstacle course.  It’s supposed to be hard.  And it may be uncomfortable.  You may even bleed (I did).  I read a review on a mud run website about this race and the person writing it complained about the pea gravel in the mud pit below the barbed wire.  Yes, you read that right.  This person complained that the the gravel hurt his knees while he was crawling through a mud pit underneath barbed wire.  Maybe a bounce house would be a better choice for this person in the future.  Don’t get me wrong – the race organizer has a responsibility to lay out a safe course, but not a course that is hazard free.  They shouldn’t line a mud pit with broken glass, but we all need to realize that a mud pit on a moto-cross track may very well have some rocks in it.  You may get a splinter.  You probably will get stepped on.  You might fall off an obstacle and break something.

A fun run and a great introduction to obstacle course racing. I recommend it.  Check them out at www.ruggedmaniac.com