Wow! The Rugged Maniac was hands down one of the best days of my life. I could not imagine completing a 5k obstacle course race (OCR). My teammate Brandon and I faced down 25 rugged obstacles. I loved every minute of it.

Our team name was “Temporary Insanity.” We took our time and I was the LAST finisher. Brandon wisely pointed out if you turn the list of finishers upside-down, I would be the winner! We also ran in the last heat of the day so that was part of the reason. I did not skip any obstacles except going alongside the edge of the fire jumps more due to the heat inhalation overpowering me so fast than fear. It got my eyes instantly. Brandon completed that and everything else without hesitation. I see how my hesitation made things harder throughout the course. With the fire, there was no time for hesitation when the hot air hit my face.

Some of the obstacles I attempted unsuccessfully including all the monkey bars and zip-lining because I could not support my body weight one-handed. As a result, I fell into mud pits. A. Lot. The first one really hit me. Literally. I did not realize how deep it was and I fell so hard I went all the way underwater. I have never jumped into a swimming pool before in my life. As you can imagine, I got a nose full of muddy water.

Brandon assisted me on many of the obstacles so thank God for him and his strength and endurance. He helped me climb a solid wooden wall that looked insurmountable to me. When I got to the warped wall, it was even taller and I could not imagine either of us could make it up that high. Brandon went first knowing he would need to assist me from above. He climbed like a champ and pulled himself up with no assistance!

I attempted it, but Brandon helped me realize I was not running fast enough toward some of the obstacles because of my fear. If you run without full force, you cannot get the momentum to make it up them. He said, “you need to commit to it.” He was right. I did, but with the height of the wall and my aching quadriceps, the muscles I hurt a few days beforehand, I could not quite make it to the top. I attempted the warped wall four times. On the last attempt I was so close I could touch Brandon’s fingertips, but could not quite grasp his hand. Next year, I thought, and I climbed the ladder on the side.

The funniest moment of the course was when we reached an obstacle called “The Iron Curtain.” It just looked like we had to walk through a shallow mud pit. There was no volunteer around offering explanation or assistance so Brandon said it cannot be dangerous because someone would be here. I thought back to when I studied the obstacles online. I recalled the name, but for the life of me I could not think of what it was that made it difficult or scary to me. It nagged at me. Brandon went first. I walked behind him and the lightbulb went on in my head. “There are deep drop-offs underwater,” I squealed as fast as I could get the words out of my mouth. Not fast enough. As my mouth said drop-offs, all I heard was SPLASH! Brandon disappeared under the muddy water. He popped back up and I laughed so hard! Thank God he went first and that he is such a good sport!

The scariest moment for me was the fireman’s pole. Oddly enough, it was not that high, but something about jumping onto the pole and coming down terrified me. It took a few minutes, but I did it. The water slide was intense. It was my first time on a water slide; a three-story water slide called Mount Maniac. Brandon held my hand and we went for it. I screamed the WHOLE way down. One long scream! I have never screamed like that in my life. I could not stop myself. It was hilarious!

I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun and felt so alive. I could not have asked for a better day or a more supportive partner. I will post more pictures as they become available. Thank you to everyone for your support and presence with me on this journey. I am already excited for the next one!

Living and loving to the fullest,

Nikola Rosa