by Thomas Nastasi
On June 29th, 2013, I attended the nationwide obstacle race Rugged Maniac at the Aviator Sports and Event Center in Brooklyn, NY. Rugged Maniac is a well-known and very fast three mile, fifteen obstacle event on relatively flat ground that’s been around for a few years. I signed up for this race because I received a Groupon deal (it seems like a lot of races are offering deals via Groupon, Living Social, etc.). My usual crew of John, Ron, and Kelly attended this as well. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this race, but the lack of thought was justified.
We arrived at this humungous location bright and early; we had the first wave time at 9 am. The logistics of the event were excellent: very easy to get to, tons of free parking. By the time we arrived, there were already a lot of people lining up at the packet pickup tent, but for some bizarre reason they didn’t want to hand out packets until 8 am. The lines were growing, employees were ready to work, yet they sat there and stared at us. I could already tell that our problems were just starting.
For instance, this was the first race I have ever been to that you had to pay $10 extra if you wanted to be timed. It seemed almost ridiculous to me that anyone wouldn’t want to know their time. Well, I soon found out what it was like not to be timed. A frantic announcement was made that their timing computers were “fried.” Apparently we warped back to 1988 where things like that happened. I’ve been to hundred people 5ks that were able to time you with no problem. A huge event with thousands of people didn’t have a backup plan? Weak! This race just lost my interest.
We were all pretty much disappointed—we compete for the time. In the end, I decided to run with my cousin during this race. I usually split from him at the start, so I wanted to make it enjoyable and run with him for the first time. We could at least have some fun and make the best of it. So the race started and we were off.
Well over 300 people sprinted 100 yards to the first of about five mounds of sandy hills. This was a terrible course design flaw. There isn’t anything more chaotic than sending a herd of people to fight and push up and down steep, unstable hills. They should have allowed more running in between the start and the hills to spread everyone out. I saw a few people fall, and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. If I wasn’t such a nice guy, I would have ended some punk’s race right there.
There was more running with some of the worst obstacles I have ever seen. The only good thing thus far was the sun wasn’t shining and there was a nice breeze. The obstacles were lame and there was tons of moaning and groaning by OCR veterans. My cousin and I stuck together throughout, and I tried to make the best of it, but I was severely disappointed as the race went on. My goals were to not get hurt and to make it home so I could go to the beach. This was easily attainable.
Everything from the terrible course design to the sunbathing obstacle volunteers, along with the invisible professional cameraman, made this race one I’d be happy to forget. After about 35 minutes of pure boredom, we hit the only thing memorable. The last obstacle was a 30-foot steep waterslide. I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive. After completing 99% of the worst course ever, I wondered how this could go wrong, but fortunately it didn’t. Down we went into a pool of water. That was fun, but not worth enough to make up for such a disappointing course. The race was over. Since there was no timing, I assume I came in first place.
This race was extremely disappointing. Luckily, there were no other local races this day that I missed for this event. The one positive is that the shirt was kind of cool, but it has a rugged maniac logo on it. Ha! Maybe at other locations this event is good, but on this day, at this venue it was terrible. I could also be a bit scornful since there was no timing. I waited a week for the free photos to be posted. When they were, it was more of the same disappointment. My cousin received one photo where he was half cut off just standing in one place. I luckily received three terrible photos of me looking miserable, but one really good one. My friend Ron used an app to enhance our photos; they came out awesome.
The real tests are coming up soon. I have three more Spartan Races this season, and they are all going to be very difficult. I have been training hard and have increased my weights. My shoulder feels 95%. I need to be in the best shape ever for all of these events. I’m going into hardcore mode. It seems like every weekend I have some BBQ to go to, but I have no problem overcoming these obstacles. I just remember what it is like to struggle on top of a mountain, and then I decide not to have a beer or dessert. I’ve made oats a staple in all of my Sunwarrior protein shakes. I am taking one after my workout for breakfast and one when I get home from work. I am feeling good and am ready for anything.
To sum it all up, I always preach to make sure you sign up for well-known nationwide events. Unfortunately, things can go wrong at these as well. I know for a fact I will never do a Rugged Maniac again—it wasn’t rugged at all. Next up: Spartan Race Blue Mountain, PA.