, 2014

Rugged Maniac no match for local team!

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

It started as a dare in Chris Valdrighi’s man cave in Weems last December and ended on a muddy obstacle course in Petersburg last Saturday.

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A team of 11, calling themselves Blood, Sweat and Beers, took on the 3.1-mile Rugged Maniac course at Virginia Motorsports Park and came out muddy, bloody, bruised and sore, but happy to have survived the adventure.

Rugged Maniac is a 5K obstacle race, held in 20 cities and towns throughout the country over the course of a year. The courses feature at least 20 obstacles constructed by a crew of licensed contractors.

The Petersburg race included climbing walls from 4’ to 12’ high, a 100’ water slide, a fire pit, rope wall, tire jungle, rugged terrain filled with concrete blocks and deep ditches to leap, balancing beams and pylons to maneuver and dark tunnels that led to steep, muddy climbs under barbed wire. And the prize at the end? The rugged warriors got a tee-shirt, a cold beverage and the satisfaction of the finish.

Races were held throughout the day with start times every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Some 2,761 racers were registered with the winner pacing the pack with a near unbelievable time of 23.26 minutes.

Of course, some competitors take the race seriously and some don’t, like the team of guys dressed last Saturday in tu-tus and wings and calling themselves the Mud Fairies. Blood, Sweat and Beers had a nice mix. Kim McManus trained rigorously for the last month or so, while Bill Smith said he was going to just “wing it.”

The team of Blood, Sweat and Beers included Valdrighi, McManus of Kilmarnock, Craig Oren of Weems, Bill, Shannon and Drew Smith of Weems, Dave and Sandy Zeiler of Kilmarnock, Rich Steensma of Weems, Dr. Joyce Cunningham of Irvington and Ryan Hinton of Glen Allen. Other notables that ran at different times were Dr. Mike Nickerson and his son, Beau, of Lancaster and Elizabeth Bedell of Richmond, daughter of Kilmarnock Police Chief Mike Bedell.

Dr. Nickerson is a veteran of the race. He ran last year and learned a few valuable lessons, which is why he came wearing gloves and knee pads, necessary equipment for climbing wooden, splinter-filled walls and crawling through gritty, rock-filled mud. No one on Blood, Sweat and Beers was prepared for those obstacles.

Steensma and D. Smith, who is a freshman at Lancaster High School, had the best finishes among Blood, Sweat and Beers runners. Steensma ran the race in about 40 minutes with Smith on his heels. Their male teammates all finished in under an hour. The three women crossed the finish together in one hour and four minutes.

“At what point during the race did you first want to throw up?” Valdrighi asked at lunch following the race.

“When I saw that sign that said ‘One-Mile,’” laughed Oren. “I said you gotta be kidding me...I’ve done all this and only been a mile! If I could just throw up a few times...”

There were some moans and groans around the table at the Petersburg restaurant. D. Zeiler couldn’t raise his arm above his head. Valdrighi’s lower back ached from a fall in slippery mud. His knees were busted up and bloody. The men’s arms and legs were cut. Oren and B. Smith both agreed they needed a long soak in a hot tub.

The women on the team, however, seemed to have come through unscathed. S. Smith, S. Zeiler and Cunningham literally smiled and laughed their way through the whole rugged run. Apparently, the website’s claim that the race was the perfect blend of fun and physicality was correct.

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