Rugged Maniac Survival Tips

When I ran Rugged Maniac, back when I lived in Western Massachusetts, it was held in Southwick. I ran it twice, and I learned after the first time what you should bring, what you should wear, and several other Rugged Maniac survival tips so that you can have a great time. These tips also work for Savage Race, or any other mud/obstacle race.

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All my Rugged Maniac survival tips, rolled up in one neat blog post!

What to Wear to Rugged Maniac

Do not wear anything cotton anywhere on your person (socks, MAYBE, but make sure they’re wicking cotton). Cotton soaks up moisture like crazy, and all that moisture can weigh you down. Last year, I made the mistake of wearing a cotton tank under a long-sleeved tech tee in a very misguided attempt to stay warm. I was not a happy camper at the finish line. I was a shivering camper. This year, lesson learned: no cotton. I’ll be wearing the same moisture-wicking capris as last year and a tech tee. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, here are my picks from Academy’s line of activewear, which is very reasonably priced.

Also, do not wear anything you love when you run a Rugged Maniac race. This includes jewelry or clothing or shoes. I’ll be wearing an old pair of running shoes that I plan to donate after the race, along with items that can be easily washed. If you run a lot of obstacle races or mud runs, consider investing in a pair of lightweight trail running shoes, like these Merrells.

I’ll also be leaving my jewelry, including my wedding ring, at home. Look closely and you can see a tan line there anyway. If you must wear a wedding ring, consider a silicone wedding ring. These are less likely to get caught on obstacles – and if they do get caught, they tear away much easier than metal. Plus, if it slips off, you won’t have to explain to your spouse that your specially-engraved ring is now at the bottom of a mud pit.

Finally, if you have long hair, put it in a French braid. I’m serious. Ponytails might get caught on barbed wire or be distracting. Last year, I braided my hair. It was the best decision ever. I’ve started wearing my hair in a French braid for all my races, which keeps it from swinging around and whacking me. (I have really long, puffy hair.)

Bring to Rugged Maniac

Grab a sturdy backpack and stuff in it: a towel, a complete change of clothes (including socks, underwear, and shoes, and preferably something casual and comfortable, like jeans and a hoodie), Shower Pills for cleaning up afterward (because a rinse off with cold water really doesn’t cut it), deodorant, lip balm, and anything else you think you’ll need after the race. I also include:

  • Safety pins
  • Hair ties
  • Gluten-free post-race protein bar (There are rarely food options that fit my dietary restrictions, so I bring my own just in case)
  • Hand lotion
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A small first aid kit for any scrapes that need some attention post-race
  • Tissues
  • Advil
  • Ben-Gay (because you WILL be sore)

There will be a rinse-off station with cold water and tent-like communal changing areas. And no one will care about your stretch marks while you’re changing; we’re all cold and shivering and just want clean, dry clothes. You can bring your own water for rinsing off, too – but it will be heavy. This is why I recommend bringing the Shower Pills or some other form of wet wipe to Rugged Maniac.

You’ll also want to bring money for food or extra beer, as well as at least $10 for parking. Food can be hit-or-miss, which is why I bring my protein bar of choice.

Leave in Your Car

Leave your phone and major valuables in your car. Basically, anything expensive to replace should be locked up in your vehicle at Rugged Maniac. Bag check isn’t responsible if you leave your brand-new iPhone in your backpack and it falls out or gets cracked. Or leave valuables at home if you can.

Final Rugged Maniac Survival Tips

There are a few more things to remember before you head out for your Rugged Maniac race:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Even if the race is being held in a rural area, there could be traffic or other issues. If you leave early, you won’t have to worry about missing your wave.
  • Know that you’re going to get bruised and muddy. This is inevitable.
  • Don’t let anyone give you a shove over the walls. Trust me on this one: a nice fellow runner gave me a boost, but he pushed so hard that I pulled a muscle in my hip. It’s better just to go around them. And speaking of…
  • If there’s an obstacle that you know you can’t do, skip it. Last year, for me, it was jumping from one tiny, mud-covered post to another. I knew I would slip and hurt myself, so I went around it.

I hope these tips for Rugged Maniac were helpful for you! Do you have any of your own? Sound off int he comments. Have a great race, everyone!