‘Nuther mudder at Aviator

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Photo gallery

Helping Hand: Teammates help each other during the Rugged Maniac race at Aviator.
Down and Dirty: Bridget Handler, left, and Katie Ipcar do not mind crawling through the mud.
Ringer: Hiba Touba shows off her upper body strength as she swings her way over water.
Muddy Maniacs: Shannon Zupnick, left, and Betty Zhang are muddy and proud of it.

Spas aren’t the only place to get a mud bath.

Rugged Maniac brought its brand of outdoor obstacles and endurance challenges to Aviator Sports and Events Center for the fifth year in a row on June 27 and 28, and thousands of daring competitors got dirty, muddy, and wet as they crawled under obstructions, bounced on trampolines, and bounded over walls in the 5K race.

Thousands more came to enjoy the free festival featuring live music, beer, food, mechanical bulls, and adult bouncy houses. A company official said that the event offered New Yorkers the chance to participate in activities that are usually not easily accessible.

“I know how hard it is for people to get outside of the city,” said Rob Dickens, the company’s chief operating officer. “There are people who want to get outdoors and do something active, but don’t get the chance to do so often. This is for them.”

Company officials said they were introducing new obstacles to their race, including stacked shipping containers and water slides. Participants said the event was a fun way to spend time with friends.

“I had a great time,” said Shannon Zupnick. “People should try it. It’s a lot of fun to bring a group of your friends.”

Rugged Maniac was recently featured on the television show “Shark Tank,” convincing celebrity businessman Mark Cuban to invest $1.75 million.

Dickens said that the company tries to set itself apart from other “mud run” companies — whose obstacles are similar, he admits — by marketing themselves differently in an effort to reach a wider audience. Nearly half of Rugged Maniac event participants are women, something Dickens attributed to the way they try and portray themselves.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously, like some of the other guys do,” Dickens said. “If you look at some of their websites, you see the messaging they use about being only for the toughest guys. They use a lot of extreme language. That might alienate some people. We don’t really care about being the most bad-a-- thing out there. We just want to get people off the couch.”

Reach reporter Eric Faynberg at (718) 260–2508 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @ericfaynberg.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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