The Rugged Maniac Phoenix Race Recap & Review

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Rugged Maniac Phoenix to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

After years of running the Rugged Maniac New England, I finally got to try a second location by running the Rugged Maniac Phoenix this past weekend!

The Rugged Maniac races are so fun that even my non-runner boyfriend loves them. They are currently the only race he actually asks me to sign him up for each year instead of just tolerating me dragging him along 🙈 So when I mentioned the race he jumped at the opportunity to join me!!

Pre Race

One great thing about most OCR (including the Rugged Maniac) is that the race goes off in small heats. These heats are usually throughout the day so runners have the chance to choose what time of day suits them best. We arrived the day before the race because I like time to adjust after travel so we could have run in the morning, but my boyfriend LOVES diners, cafes, and large breakfasts. Last time we were in Phoenix we found an AMAZING all gluten-free cafe, Jewel’s Cafe so we opted to go there first and took a later race time of 12:45 PM.

We are not a timely people though, so we ended up late to the race anyway.. But the process to fix our mess-up was painless and didn’t cost us anything (thanks Rugged!!).

On an unrelated note, (I’m not going to pretend like this was the reason we were late because it wasn’t) make sure you listen to their special instructions as to how to get to the race. The address was slightly off, but they gave you special instructions that I originally confidently ignore that corrected the issue.

We ended up with a little time before our new start time (we chose to) and quickly realized we weren’t prepared for a race in the desert (will I ever learn??). We ended up having to buy water because we couldn’t wait for the usual bottle you get at the finish. To us it seemed kind of cruel not to have free water beforehand, but I realize now that not only have I never run a race with that, but literally no one else seemed phased. I think it was just us being out of our element, but a note for other non-locals.

The Course

The race course was really similar to New England in many ways. Both are held at some kind of motocross park and use part of the park’s course and part of the natural land surrounding it. Both, when on the park’s course, are comprised of a very fine dirt and had twists, turns, rises, and dips. I would say New England’s motocross course portion featured more ups and downs, while Phoenix’s more twists and turns, but they were still pretty similar. The natural land was where they varied, New England’s wooded portion versus Phoenix’s desert. I was happy they did add some more up and down into the desert with man made dirt mounds and by making us run stadiums. (Wouldn’t want it to be TOO flat and easy 😜)

The Obstacles

I love how they always seem to find the perfect mix of challenging, doable, and just for fun obstacles! There are too many to mention them all, but here are some of my favorite/most memorable:

Barzan – This one’s a new, classic arm & grip strength obstacle where you need swing across bars facing different ways & angles. It’s definitely one of the more difficult ones and I was excited to try it. I didn’t make it across, but my boyfriend did. I’m very excited to try again at New England!

Antigravity – It’s got trampolines!! Plus it’s hilarious how many people don’t seem to know how to use a trampoline 😂

Off The Rails – You have to run at and grab a rope with enough forward momentum that you slide on it down a rail to the end where you ring a bell. We’ve had many renditions of this type of slide on a rope obstacle in ninja class. Also someone got the bell stuck up in the metal framework a couple of people before our turn and my boyfriend was able to dislodge it to become the hero and be cheered as he left the water pit!

destroying the bell 💪

Full Tilt – A teeter totter hanging ladder! It’s almost like my ninja gym knew I’d need to climb an inclined ladder because we did exactly that the week before in class! In my opinion this one was a good intermediate obstacle that was slightly easier than Barzan. The only weird thing I noticed was this was the only hanging obstacle I’ve ever seen them have without a water pit under it. One of the things I love about the Rugged Maniac is they always have water pits under their hanging obstacles so you can try them without fearing the fall. (I’ve seen someone fall and break their elbow at a different brand OCR.)

Iron Curtain – Didn’t know about this one but I LOVE IT! But telling you about it would ruin it so just trust me it’s a fun one! 😉

Feed The Beast – I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. Blowup obstacles aren’t generally my favorite (except the slide!), but I really enjoyed the blowup walls you have to bounce over!

Check out the full list of obstacles here if you want!

Overall

This race gave me confidence to continue recommending the Rugged Maniac to anyone who will listen because it seems they put on similarly AWESOME races no matter the venue! Rugged Maniac are friendly for all skill levels and make sure everyone has a blast! For Phoenix specifically, I would just recommend you bring water and sunscreen if you aren’t a crazy local who doesn’t seem to notice they’re out in the middle of the desert 😂 Also the parking lot situation gets a little crazy toward the end so I’d recommend an earlier time slot if you need to be out of there ASAP.

👍👍

Why the Rugged Maniac is My Favorite OCR

This weekend will be my second racecation of the year, the Rugged Maniac Phoenix! The Rugged Maniac and I go way back since 2010! I honestly don’t remember how we got signed up for that first one anymore (possibly a birthday gift because it was around her birthday), but it ended up being me and one of my best friends running the race with her family spectating. Since then it has become a tradition, with more and more people actually running it each year!

Don’t get me wrong, I have really enjoyed every OCR I’ve run so far, but the Rugged Maniac is the most well rounded, caters to all skill levels, and makes sure absolutely everyone has a freaking blast!

They have the Best Mud

The amount of mud and it’s placement is PERFECT at the Rugged Maniac. While there are TONS of opporunities to get dirty (so you’ll end up just as muddy as a Spartan/other mudders), the parts of the course between obstacles aren’t just miles of mud for you to trudge through. This allows you to actually be able to run (unlike at some of the other mudder’s I’ve run)! They also have more water/mud pits, which I am a super fan of!

Mud pit that started off really shallow so I ran right into it
😂😂😂
Mid race mud fights are required!
They have the Best Obstacles

I really like their variety of obstacles! Not only do they have obstacles for all levels of skill, but the types of obstacles varies more than at other OCR as well. They have the standard climbing and arm strength obstacles, but also include a decent amount of balance ones too. This aligns more with my ninja warrior class and it seems overal ninja warrior. It also allows for more people with different skills to shine during the race! As for difficulty, they still have obstacles that take all that upper body strength and a high level of skill, but others that are easier, and some just completely for how insanely fun they are, like the giant slide! I feel like the mix of obstacles makes everyone able to leave feeling accomplished. I know both friends and I have left other OCR feeling kinda bummed about not being able to do obstacles, but no one I’ve run with has had this issue with the Rugged Maniac.

One of my fav obstacles!
THE SLIIIIIDE 👽

Another one of my favorite things about their obstacles are they put water pits under any that you could fall from. With the guarentee of a soft fall, I have tried many obstacles at Rugged Maniacs that I wouldn’t have tried at other OCR for fear of injury.

They have the Best Course

Again, the Rugged Maniac found the pefect balance. With their courses being actually runnable mud-wise, they seemed to know they could throw in a bit more challenge during the running sections. I LOVE that the course isn’t just pancake flat like most other fun races. Not so much vert that non-runners can’t do it, but enough to make it fun for actual runners too! In New England (not sure about other locations since woods isn’t always a local terrain) they also added in a wooded trail section! It was great to get to run through the woods, but also be on an actual trail (unlike another OCR we ran lol).

Oh also AMAZING and HILARIOUS free race photos!!! ❤

Overall the Rugged Maniac is excellent at being challenging, but never discouraging to all levels of runner/obstacle course racer. I love that I have a race that currently has a 100% success rate at sucking my non-running and running friends in year after year. It’s great to run an OCR and feel accomplished, but it’s even better to get to share that with friends and family and participate in all their accomplishments as well!

Why All Runners Should Try An Obstacle Course Race

I’ve actually been meaning to write this post for awhile now.. Like since I ran the Spartan Beast at Killington last year 😅.. But I figure since I currently have discount codes for two locations of my favorite brand of OCR there’s no better time than now!

  1. They are INSANELY FUN – OCR have all the positives of a rainy run without any of the negatives, mud and puddles but no wind and rain, heck yes! And the obstacles are just playground equipment for adults! The whole race is basically letting out your inner child!
  2. It’s Easy to Take Easy – If you have never run one you don’t have a PR to stress about beating (and you’ll get one automatically 😉), but even if you have, they are similar to trail races where the course is always different so you can’t really compare times and can take it easy instead. Also they are pretty much always on dirt so they’re easier on your legs!
  3. Branching Out is Fun – It’s really fun to be good at more things than just running. But OCRs do involve running so you’re already halfway to being good at it from the start!
  4. It’s a Gateway Exercise to Running – I’ve found most people don’t start these for the running, they just tolerate running between the obstacles at first. Once they’re hooked though and looking to get better, guess what they have to do? It’s start running! So many of my non-runner friends have been converted to at least part-time runners because of OCRs 😈
  5. The Adrenaline of Running will Make You a BEAST – While the running parts tire out non-runners, I find it pumps me up CRAZY amounts. During the Spartan Super, and especially the Beast (since there were more runnable bits and it was UP A MOUNTAIN) I was able to complete obstacles I wouldn’t normally dream of completing in ninja class. ‘The Bend’ obstacle was at the top of a big incline and I literally climbed the obstacle only using my arms like instantly, when I’m not sure I could normally make it even with the help of my legs. After I got down multiple strangers came up to me like, “THAT WAS INSANE!!”.

So have I convinced you yet? And for the record I was no way inclined toward OCR besides the running parts beforehand. Before I started ninja classes (years after I ran my first and many other OCRs) I literally could never even open a pickle jar on my own 😂 but still had a blast at the races!!

Anyway, soon I’ll be writing another extremely overdue post up on The Rugged Maniac and why it’s my favorite OCR but for now, just know it is and if you want to give the Phoenix, AZ (I’ll be there!!) or Dade City, FL race a try use the code RUN10 for 10% off!

Disclaimer: I received entry to The Rugged Maniac Phoenix to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Addaday Roller Product Review

Disclaimer: I received an Addaday Roller to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I recently was able to up my recovery game with the Addaday Pro roller. My old stick roller just didn’t seem to be doing anything anymore and I tried the R8 but it was too harsh and couldn’t get the spots I needed. I am happy to say that Addaday’s Pro roller seems to be the perfect solution!

The Addaday Pro is listed as the “Swiss army knife” of massage rollers and it seems to be just that! It has 3 different types of roller balls with different firmness allowing you to get the exact amount of massage you want. You can also simply unscrew the handle to swap any of the different massage balls’ positions.

My recovery kit ❤

I found out I much preferred these ball massagers to plain sticks with different sized ridges. They feel like they fit the shape of your leg much better and can still really get in there with some pressure.

After the cold of the Hyannis Half my legs locked up and were INSANELY sore and tight. I was a big baby for a few hours and didn’t want to deal with the pain of rolling, afraid it wouldn’t be worth it. When I finally decided I hurt too much and needed to give it a try I used my Addaday and my legs felt completely brand new. It was honestly AMAZING!

I would 100% recommend giving rolling overall a try if you’ve never done it, but I’d also recommend giving the Addaday Pro a try if you want to upgrade your rolling experience!

Check it out for yourself:
Addaday Website

Turtle Gloves Product Review

Disclaimer: I received Turtle Gloves to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

While the rest of me is almost never gets cold, my hands are terrible and constantly switch between too cold and too warm. Winter (and some of Spring and Fall) running used to be the biggest pain as I had to take my gloves off and put them back on every few minutes. I hated having to carry them when I wasn’t wearing them so some days I would opt out of bringing them when I really should have.

Now that I have Turtle Gloves though, I never have to debate it! Turtle Gloves are extremely versatile so they can be used in any amount of cold! I have now used them to keep warm in cold from pouring freezing rain for an entire half marathon to windy canyon side otherwise in the desert, and they were perfect for both situations. I want to say it’s partially because of their soft, stretchy, moisture wicking fabric (that keeps you warm, while also letting your hands breathe) and partially because of the flip design.

Turtle Gloves are actually mittens that you can flip the top of to turn into “fingerless” gloves. I put fingerless in quotes because there is still a tube of fabric that covers your fingers until you roll it down. I really like that they left this tube long so you can choose exactly how much to roll it, therefore exactly how much of your fingers are still covered. A few cold days, just flipping the top off for some extra ventilation (not actually exposing any of my fingers) was all they needed to be comfy. The fabric tube also means you can store items like keys and things in the gloves without them actually touching your skin and rubbing. I also found out I would much rather be able to quickly expose a finger to use my phone than mess around with “touch screen” gloves 🙄

These gloves keep your hands warm like no other! My first half of the year was in freezing downpour the entire time. So much that my legs went numb (that was a first!). It didn’t even hit me until after the race when everyone else was complaining, that my hands hadn’t felt cold AT ALL during the race. I also didn’t get that stiff, “can’t move your hands fast” feeling, which I usually do after even slightly chilly races. The gloves are not waterproof (they were soaked with all the rain that day), but kept my wet hands perfectly warm through the windy race.

Two thumbs up in the freezing rain 👍👍

An almost opposite situation where Turtle Gloves saved me was during the Antelope Canyon Half. This half was in the desert, but had a ton of cooler sections along the rim of the canyon. It was too hot for a shirt, but my arms were cold. I also forgot any of the pouches I brought in order to carry my fuel and things. Turtle Gloves saved me by functioning as arm warmers with pockets!

On the canyon’s edge!

Turtle Gloves have now become a staple piece of Winter running gear for me. If you want to check them out for yourself:

Use the code TurtleBibRave for 15% off
Turtle Gloves Website

Zwift Virtual Running Product Review

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift Running Footpod to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

If you’re a highly competitive person who sometimes needs to run on a treadmill (or cycle indoors) then you need to try Zwift. I originally didn’t think much of it but figured I’d give it a shot since nothing could possibly make treadmill running worse.

Zwift is an app (for running and biking) that allows you to hook up to your indoor equipment and run virtually with others using it. You need a phone or tablet to view your adventure and either can hook up to a Bluetooth treadmill or their footpod for reading your pace. You can then see your avatar running along with others in a virtual world full of interesting scenery! (I ran through volcanoes one run!)

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My avatar resting after my run 👍

You’d think avatars on a screen would be completely different than real people on the roads, nope, my brain went straight into race mode and I upped my speed to pass anyone I could see just like on road runs/races 😅 It was CRAZY motivating and highly entertaining for me. I hadn’t cared to run so fast on a treadmill in FOREVER (or ever, I’m not sure)! It’s also helpful on the other end, where while it keeps you entertained, it takes actual action to increase your speed, so you can’t pick it up without noticing and ruin a planned slower run/interval.

I ran two different types of runs with Zwift: a 5K race (kinda free for all mode where you just go run) and then a workout with intervals. The race was really neat and brought runners I “know” from all over the world together, but the workout was what really kind of blew my mind. I am someone who SUCKS at staying on pace for workouts so doing one on a treadmill where your pace is set for you is AMAZING. I still had to manually change the speed by pushing buttons, but that was easy enough and then I got to just run without thinking. It also alerts you when to change speeds and what you should set it to! I honestly will probably be running more workouts than necessary on a treadmill with Zwift now that I know how magical it is.

With Zwift allowing me to enjoy a treadmill run now, I finally ordered myself a treadmill the other day. I’m excited to have no excuse on days with extreme New England weather when it’s dangerous to run outside and I can’t get to the gym. I’m glad I found Zwift to add to my 2019 training arsenal and think it will be a big help making the year amazing!

BUFF DryFlx Neckwarmer and Headband

Disclaimer: I received the BUFF DryFlx Neckwarmer and Headband to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

While I love Winter running, I generally hate Winter gear. The gear that is supposed to keep me warm smothers me and causes me to sweat so much I become drenched and even more susceptible to freezing. I’ve had gloves and buffs get so wet they froze solid later in the run.

After trying the New Original BUFF earlier this year, I was excited to get to test their new DryFlx fabric to see if it was just as magical and could solve my cold gear problems. Turns out, it is and did!

I was able to keep warm using both my headband and neck warmer on a variety of runs without them causing me to sweat! One of my biggest dilemmas at the start of Winter is whether or not to wear ear warmers. I hate the wind and cold air blowing in my ears, but also hate the inevitable ring of sweat headbands will leave around my head. I threw on my BUFF headband on a warmer, windier day to see how much it would cause me to sweat and was extremely happily surprised to find out it didn’t at all! It’s honestly really cool how well the fabric keeps you warm and protected from wind while still managing to let your skin breathe. I wore both on a below freezing run as well and didn’t get a single chill. It also felt easier to breathe through than other buffs when in face-mask mode.

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Another feature I really liked was they added elastic to the ends of both product. It’s on the inside so it doesn’t catch on your hair, but gives a slightly snugger fit. I am super picky with ear warmers because I refuse to have to keep pulling them back over my ears every 5 minutes the entire run. There is elastic on one side of the headband that’s perfect for securing it over your ears. The neck warmer also has elastic, of slightly different sizes on each end. (My guess would be for different sized heads/faces.) This elastic was a huge game changer when I wore it as a face-mask. Normally I have a very difficult time keeping a buff up on my face, but I didn’t have to fix the DryFlx BUFF once!

Lastly, as you may know, I’m all about COLOR, reflectiveness, and really anything to make gear more crazy (and safe, I guess). Well the DryFlx comes in THE MOST NEON GREEN (and BLUE and some boring colors 😜) AND has a reflective design!!

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I was told I looked very ninja turtle and I love it!

If you want to check them out for yourself:

BUFF DryFlx Headband

BUFF DryFlx Neckwarmer

They also have a hat version!

BUFF DryFlx Hat