MudGear is always happy to support events that challenge and inspire gritty warriors and aspiring adventure athletes. That's why we've been happy to make some noise about Ruckfest, held August 20-21, 2022 in New Jersey. We knew it sounded like a cool event led by dudes with real street cred in terms of rucking. Still, we're leaving it to the competing athletes to pass/fail this event. MudGear-BOTL Pro Team member, Rachel Watters was there.
Good morning, MudGear. Rachel Watters here to talk to you a little bit about Ruckfest, which I participated in this past weekend. Thanks for having me.
Ruckfest was a two-day event. Saturday was the day of individual competition, and Sunday was a team event day. So, two separate days; athletes could do just one day or both days. I did both. So, I'm going to give you the rundown on what we did.
DAY 1 | Individuals Competition
So, Ruckfest on Saturday was an individual competition. There were two separate events that you could sign up for. One was a Trail Ruck Run and then one was a Ruck Games event. So, these are separate events. Anyone could sign up for one or both.
There was of course a competitive field there, but also open-level athletes. This event was designed for anybody. So, a lot of great different athlete levels out there; great people.
TRAIL RUCK RUN
First event is a Trail Ruck Run. It was about 11K; so, a little over six, maybe 6.5 miles... and had about 1300 ft of gain. The rucks we were outfitted with, and this is for the entirety of the weekend, women had 20 lb. plates. Men had 30.
So, the first event was pretty simple just to ruck. (Actually) Run with a ruck. The trail was rugged, gnarly, technical, and steep. It was a lot of fun.
All of the athletes there competed against each other, and then there was a subsequent podium for your top three finishers.
So, that was the ruck; and then, the next part of the Ruckfest for Saturday was The Games.
So, The Games were, again, something that you could register for in addition to event one, which was the ruck, or just by itself. The Games had two strength workouts, and your time for those two would be put together. Total times would make the podium for The Games event.
The first workout was called the 21 Gun Salute, and it was just sort of chaotic. It was a mixture of heavy sandbag carries, running, tire flips, functional movements with sandbags, swamp crawling, (again) a little chaotic. We were crab walking, dragging sandbags with rucks and lunges, and that was an awesome workout.
So, that one took me about 30 minutes. So, that was kind of the middle of the road type of workout, as far as length duration. I wouldn't call it quick, and I wouldn't call it endurance; but that was the first event. Then we had a little break and debrief; and then, the second event was an adaptation of the Brute Force Mile.
We were outfitted with our rucks and sandbags. We had to go do a trail mile that had a good climb in it and then come down with our sandbags and also do a WOD before the finish line.
The WOD had overhead sandbag holds and sandbag cleans; 21, 15, and 9 on the reps. That was sort of a nice combo there on the mile. That was about a 20-minute event.
So, those two events put together made the podium for The Games; which was, again, the second part of Saturday.
What was unique was that for the athletes that competed in the ruck run, which was the first event, and then those combined Games events, total times were put together, and then a top eight of genders was drawn out. Then, these athletes got to compete in a final elimination. So, the top eight men and women did a three-workout elimination.
First, all eight started. The top five advanced to the next workout. Then, top three went down to the final workout to compete in that work out for the podium.
So, the first workout was pretty simple (lol). It was running with a ruck and doing burpees. Sounds simple. Right? Not when you're going as fast as you can!
The next workout that the top five did was a sandbag run, and you had to then submerge completely in the lake with your sandbag and ruck, come back out, and do some functional movements with that sandbag. So, the top three from there then moved on.
The last workout was just this wild combination of ruck running, sandbag over the shoulder, log carrying, rope climbing sort of chaos. And from that last event, your top three for the full festivity sort of emerged.
So, that was sort of the breakdown. I know that's pretty high level, but the event was so much fun on Saturday. It was well organized. The race Directors Brandon and Mark did a fantastic job putting this together. They were very clear, and it was a lot of fun with a great group of people. Plus, there was so much swag out there... not just on the competitive side. MudGear was there and some other really cool sponsors giving out raffle prizes. It was a really engaging, fun event!
So, Saturday was really neat. I met a lot of great people, competed with some incredible athletes, and I would definitely recommend the event for somebody who wants to test their endurance, test their grit, and try something different.
What was neat about this is that you could come and do the full day. You could come and do the ruck run and then, maybe, stick around and watch athletes compete in the other events. So, great, great group, and well organized. I just had a great time!
So, that was sort of a rundown of Saturday – a lot of rucking, a lot of throwing heavy sandbags around, functional movements. No obstacles here. I don’t know how many obstacle course racing people might have that question, but there were no obstacles at this event. This was really more of a ruck/strength hybrid event.
DAY 2 | Crew Events
Sunday was a completely separate day (event). I decided to do that one as a team. If I was going to come all the way up to New Jersey, I wanted to have all of the fun that I could. So, the team event that was on Sunday was three-person teams, and mixed-gender; it didn’t matter. You’re all thrown into the pot together. There were six evolutions – unknown. Clock started at 6AM. Start your first evolution. As you finished, then, you got instructions for the next; and first team to complete all six (evolutions) in the fastest time would be your winner. So, these were all unknown. We were getting the instructions as we went. There was a lot of teamwork with some heavy carries. I’d say across the six events, we probably did at least ten miles on our feet – as a team out in the woods. We did log carries, plate carries, sandbag, a lot of unique, challenging things that made us work together as a team.
One of the events that was really cool was doing this ruck, and then we show up in the woods, and there’s Yancy (Culp) setup with a DEKA STRONG. As a three-person team, we did a triple Deka Strong – meaning we did three times the workload or intervals in a Deka. And we could switch off and work together. That was really unique to see those two worlds kind of clashing together. So, again, that was one of our six evolutions.
It was really setup and designed for all fitness levels. My team, I kept yelling at them, “Let’s go. Let’s go. We’ve got to win!” I was pushing our team. I wanted that spot on Sunday. There were a lot of athletes from all backgrounds out there. There was great camaraderie, and it was well organized.
Ruckfest is definitely going to go on my list as one of my top weekends. I loved the ability to have two days of competition out in the woods doing something different; throwing sandbags around; competing head-to-head with folks; and challenging myself.
I can say that Ruckfest pushed me as an athlete in a way that I absolutely loved. I know that this isn’t going to be the scientific explanation, but there’s this burning you feel in your core and in your back when you push to your max; and that’s not something that I feel a lot as an athlete. I felt it at Ruckfest this weekend. I had these moments of focus and awareness in that competition; feeling that burning, and your body saying fight or flight, but you mind going, “No. Breathe. You’ve got it.” I loved that Ruckfest pushed me to that level.
Great event! I would definitely be willing to be back next year. It was great seeing all of the MudGear swag out there; MudGear socks, and other great sponsors…great group of people!
So, thanks for giving me some time to tell you about it. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next year.