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Warrior Dash Participants Blaming Rashes On Race

By Peg Rusconi, WBZ-TV

AMESBURY (CBS) – Warrior Dash New England is billed as an extreme event, challenging runners with trails, obstacles and mud.

This year, there was a lot more mud than expected. The event was held in Amesbury in late June and before the race, downpours had soaked the course.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Tammy Rebello, who ran the race with friends. “However the aftereffects I wasn’t anticipating.”

She’s talking about a rash that developed a few days later.

She didn’t think much of it until the friends she ran with also reported rashes.

“It’s everywhere the mud touched me I have a rash,” said Michelle Pupka, whose legs are covered with small red dots.

On Facebook, other runners have complained of rashes. Some, like Tammy, say doctors have diagnosed it as poison ivy. Others say it’s something else.

WBZ-TV’s Peg Rusconi reports

Regardless, Tammy and Michelle say, for their $50 entry fee, they expected more protection, even though they signed waivers.

“Going through the race and getting muddy and bumps and bruises and sprained ankles is expected,” said Rebello. “But coming out and suffering week two weeks later covered in a rash is not expected.”

A Chicago-based spokesperson for Warrior Dash says safety is paramount– and first-aid certified staff members walk the course many times before an event. She says they bring in their own specially-sifted, contaminant-free dirt for the mud pits they make.

On that weekend in Amesbury, the rest of the mud on the course was nature-made– and whether that had something to do with the dash rash remains a mystery.

The Warrior Dash is a popular event held in 33 US cities and Australia.


One Comment

  1. Johnny B says:

    I ran this with co-workers and we have the same exact thing. Luckly we work at a hospital and a nurse told us to scrub it raw with a brillo pad with Dawn (it gets the grease off) then rub it with alcohol (rawww like a warrior!) to dry it out.

    Looks like I’m not running the Spartan Run…

    1. mike wazowski says:

      This is silly advice you never want to damage the skin more and traumatize it. Hopefully people are smarter than you.

    2. Casey says:

      I still have itching… Mostly on my legs but the ugly bumps that appeared shortly after the race have gone away. This is ridiculous!!!

  2. Tammy says:

    ouch alcohol after rubbing it raw, now THAT is a warrior!

  3. Warrior with an itchy wife says:

    Both my wife and I ran as well and although I got a few bruises, I’m clean. My wife got the same rash and after 2 weeks of slowly getting worse, she still has it. She went to the doctor and got put on antibiotics and steroid cream but not working. She has a dermatology appointment next week.

    Not sure she is warrior enough to try the above but would love to know if it worked and why? Anti-bacterial soap?

  4. Lee says:

    I am a doctor… A few of my employees ran the race and developed the rash… It is not poison ivy.. It is a hair follicle infection otherwise known as folliculitis, in this case called ” mud fever”.
    It usually resolves without treatment but can require antibiotics for severe cases…

    1. Cheryl says:

      Can you classify “severe”?

    2. Mary Ann says:

      My husband ran the race on Saturday June 25 and is now on Antibiotics for a Cellutius infection on his leg. He got cut during the coarse and 2 days latter couldn’t walk because the infection was so bad.

  5. Kara says:

    Did the rash as well and have the same kind of rash…assumed it was poison ivy.
    Hoping it goes away SOON!

  6. Jenn says:

    I have it too! My legs are covered. I also assumed it was poison ivy from the posts I have read and pictures I have seen of poison ivy. Now, I know we are all ‘Warriors’,but this rash is driving me absolutely crazy. It is extremely itchy, keeping me up at night. I will follow this for any helpful tips, and next year will take some precautions if possible! It was worth it though…such a fun experience.

  7. BearGrylls says:

    Wahhh! …Stay out of the woods if you can’t handle some scratches and bumps!
    Go home, sit on your couch, stuff your face and watch survivorman you warriors.
    Good Grief!

    1. Maria says:

      Sorry, but i would much rather have some ‘scratches and bumps’ than the disgusting, nasty rash that this was – IICK! And, I won’t sit on my couch and stuff my face, but I will do other races where II don’t have to wonder what the heck kind of grossness I may get contaminated with! BTW, for those of you that are suffering with this, try putting vinegar on it – it worked great clearing up my rash…

    2. Susan says:

      Hey Bear, I can handle the race and all it brings. I conquered some fears and cracked my knee on a huge rock but got right up and kept on going. I didn’t sign up for manure filled mud. I signed up for a race that would batter me, bruise me and challenge me. This did it and gave me a nice parting gift as well. I highly doubt that if this “happens all the time” that people would willingly sign up to be covered in this rash poison ivy or otherwise year after year. I have friends that have run other races of this sort in the same types of conditions and NEVER had this happen. *puts her steel toe boots on and heads to the couch for the next episode of Survivorman*

  8. Andrea says:

    A friend and I also have the Dash Rash. We thought it was poison ivy too but quickly realized that it was something else. The first week was the worst with maddening itching, many red bumps and pustules….mud fever for sure! Still have some small red bumps but they’ve stopped itching and are disappearing. I’ll definitely do this race again but will hope for drier days (less mud!) before next year’s race!

  9. Cheryl says:

    Yikes! Well my friend and I ran the race and she just asked me today if I had any poison ivy. I told her I had a rash on my lower legs. She just told me of this story. I’ve been rubbing with alcohol and putting cortizone and bendryl on but not much relief. At least we have some answers now. I didn’t realize the rash until 3 or 4 days after the race….so I didn’t think to link the two. Maybe a trip to the dermatologist is in order. Thanks for all the information.

  10. Laura K says:

    I actually went to a dermatologist after reading the posts about it being either poison ivy or folliculitis… she said it’s neither because most of the spots don’t have a hair follicle in the center of the red bump. She did say it was definitely exposure to some plant and thus the rash… like poison ivy. Incidentally, I have the rash only on my legs that weren’t covered by my bike shorts… AND, I swam, literally, in the mud pit and had it all over my body, most of my face, and in my hair, and I have NO bumps on my trunk, arms, face, or head.. so definitely from the trail. That’s not the fault of WD, just one of nature’s little beauties kicking the human’s butts :-)

  11. Laura K says:

    BTW- the dermatologist gave me prednisone which has almost immediately stopped the itching and started the healing. After 2 days, the rash is about 50% less red and improving as the days go on.

  12. Jill says:

    I have it too! It is called poison ivy people. Stop making a mountain out of a mole hill!

  13. Brad says:

    it is “swimmers itch” or “duck itch”

  14. Kendra perry says:

    I did not sign up for this god awful rash.. I did toughmudder in may and did not have this.. The doctor doesn’t know what it is.. Never again will I do that run I expected more

  15. Maggie from Worcester says:

    Of course, the women are more susceptible because they shave their legs.

  16. Katy says:

    I did the race in the 11:30 heat on Saturday and my legs got covered in the mud. I did not get any type of rash. I feel for those who did, but don’t think it’s fair to blame the race organizers – it seems like there was an unfortunate chemistry between SOME racers’ skin and the mud.

    1. beaches says:

      I agree, how can you blame the race organizers for any of this. What did they put secret rash powder in the mud. And when they check the mud before the race do they send it to a lab for testing? Get real. People have to blame someone or they’re not happy.

    2. Rebecca says:

      I also did the 11:30 heat & my rash didn’t seem to show up until a week later & has progressively gotten worse, just on the back of my legs where the skin was exposed. thinking it came from the slide down the final hill… off the to Dr.s today after seeing this is possibly the reason for the rash now.

      1. Rebecca says:

        either way, still doing it again next year!!!

  17. Trish says:

    I woke up 3 days later with rash sporadically all over my legs including back of my thighs. I thought, well, I was just running through 3miles of forrest, and went on with my life…..par for the course for those of us who choose the outdoors.

  18. Jim says:

    I’ve had the rash for 2 weeks now and some of it has cleared up, I still have more on my thighs that are itchy as all hell. I’ve used cortisone cream and have taken 3 oatmeal baths in the last week to stop the itch. I’m hoping it will go away on its own without the need for a trip to the dermatologist. It is not poison ivy people!! It’s still a mystery though why some people have it and others not. I’m wondering if people with shaven legs were more susceptible to the rash. I recently did a cycling event that I had shaved my legs for. I wonder if I hadn’t have shaved if I would have got the rash.

  19. Lb says:

    I can’t stand the article, “But coming out and suffering week two weeks later covered in a rash is not expected.”

    You run through the wet woods with bugs and plants and standing water to go along with other sweaty bodies in the same environment, going through the same stuff. What in the world do you expect?

  20. Chris says:

    I ran the race and accidentally ran through poison ivy at the top of the first hill. I think the combination of poison ivy oils in mud, as well as the snow gun wash down at the end created the poison ivy rash, as opposed to the usual welt where you contact the oil. Some people have a reaction, some don’t. Like others have said, it’s nature, it’s going to happen.

  21. FIN says:

    I am very uncomfortable and the rash is going to other parts of the body. Oral steroids may get rid of it according to Mass General. I won’t be doing the race again. I’m scaring young children.

  22. Dave says:

    Yeah, this is BS.
    I got scratched up, and some of the rocks did a number on my left ankle, but there were no rashes. I’m very disappointed to see such whining as well.

    You got a rash, shut up, wash yourself off, and avoid the event in the future, this tame beastie is too much for you.

    I thought your medal said, “I survived,” it’s not a license to spout off with the whiner pants on.

    1. Tammy says:

      well when you get a rash in your “special” area, come talk to me until then I will be proud I ran my race and didn’t get a disease doing so.

  23. Kim says:

    I ran this Warrior Dash in Amesbury, MA on Saturday, June 25th with 6 other friends and my husband. Four of the women who ran the race, including me, have a terrible itchy rash on our legs. All 4 of us we wearing capri workout pants. The rash is from our ankles to mid-calves. It seems to be getting worse and worse every day. I noticed it on my legs about a week after the race. I am taking Benedryl and putting Caladryl Lotion on the rash. What is this rash??? It is very strange. Does anyone out there know?

  24. Tammy says:

    I was put on oral steroids as my doctor was very concerned about my rash and how I got it. Better to be safe than sorry. I will do other races I will just be sure of the course conditions next time around. This was my first race of this sort ( I run 5k’s all the time) so now I am no longer a rookie :) I think my point is just saying that the organizers should have taken measures once the rain caused excessive mud on the course and maybe retested their race course to ensure safety. There is a difference between being dirty, bruised and broken and being infected with something nasty as some racers are. I was lucky, I just had poison ivy but let’s be real, the mud DID smell like a port-a-potty.

    1. lisa says:

      I just came off the steroids 2 days ago and the rash is back. All down my legs again.

  25. Susan says:

    for the record, this is being investigated by multiple media outlets. a few of my friends and i have been “found” via facebook asking to talk to us about the race. one newspaper has been investigating it since last week based on the WD facebook page

  26. Jenn says:

    Some of you are being a bit harsh here! I am not blaming the organizers of the event at all….like some have said, it is an outdoor course, in the woods, mud, water…I am not at all surprised to be covered with a rash. However when I saw this article and heard so many others got it, I was curious to know how others have been treating it. It’s been about 2 weeks and my legs are completely covered, it is getting worse and is extremely itchy all day and night, and it’s pretty unsightly. I am just hoping to get some tips, not ‘whining’. The race was an absolute blast and I’d do it again!

  27. Ricky Johnny says:

    I have this terrible rash as well. I am not one to complain normally, I run many races, usually half marathons. I have been treating this rash with products for two weeks and here it is 4am on a Saturday morning and I can’t sleep because the itching and pain is so bad. While I don’t BLAME Red Frog Events, it would be very classy of the organizers of this international event to shoot out an e-mail to participants with any information as to what the rash might be. I have been perscribed prednizone and will pick it up when daylight hits. For those saying people are “whining”, why don’t you go comment on the Warrior Dash site as to how wonderful the race was and let people here use the comments to share helpful information…. I am glad the story is getting coverage, maybe we can get some answers……

    1. Holly says:

      i totally agree and am also suffering!

  28. joanne says:

    I have the rash as well as two other people i know that ran the race. it’s centered behind our knees and around the ankles. one of my friends went away on her own. mine is poison ivy and after 1 week i went to the dr and got oral steroid perscription which is clearing it up.

  29. an says:

    I also have the rash, or whatever it is. I don’t think it’s poison ivy or follicuitis, here’s why….my friend who did NOT run the race, who stayed at the base of the mountain as a spectator and never came into contact with any mud and was wearing jeans and sneakers also developed it, and pretty bad too. She has the same exact thing as me and what is being described by everyone else. Could it have possibly been something in the field? It’s really strange.

    1. Jenn says:

      An, I have a sister who has a rash that looks just like the one I have (though mine is worse) and she didn’t do the warrior rash, which leads me to believe it
      could be poison ivy. Maybe your friend picked it up somewhere else, or came into contact with it from a participant? I have read that poison ivy is just rampant this year, and I see it everywhere.

  30. jamie says:

    ive been washing my legs with warm water and tea tree oil and it really seems to be taking away the itching and the blisters. but since it has been two weeks since the race and i still have the rash i went to the doctor and they put me on prednisone… i will however still run the race next year, but with longer pants and not capris this time. ;)

  31. an says:

    I don’t think so. It seems to be too much of a coincident. She literally developed it in the same time frame and says she has not been anywhere else where she could have gotten poison ivy. We spents days trying to figure out what we both did that day that could have caused it and the only thing we could come up with that we had in common was using the portapotty and the bus….that was before we realized so many people had it. I ran with about 10 other people, 1/2 of us got it and 1/2 didn’t. And it’s really weird that it is only on our legs when I had mud all over me. Btw, I also had long running pants on.

  32. Cinque says:

    I suppose that one could say that if someone chooses to run thru the woods and the mud then don’t complain if you get a “rash”. Seems to me that quite a bit is being made of such an unimportant event. Grow up!!!!!!!

  33. Kerry Donoghue Marulli says:

    I was a spectator at this race went to cheer on friends. I was no where near the mud and I was wearing jeans, socks and sneakers, and my legs were covered!!! I don’t think it was the mud.

  34. Lyn says:

    Trying to find the best treatment for your rash is valid. Blaming the race organizers is ridiculous. How would you have expected them to predict and prevent it? They did a fantastic job and put on a wonderfully wild event!

  35. Elizabeth says:

    Folks…..you raced on an old dump landfill. Might have checked that out BEFORE you did the race.

  36. Jessica says:

    I Ran the Warrior Dash and A week Later My Right thigh and but cheek had a large Itchy Red Rash that is continuing to grow. It is so uncomfortable and nothing is helping with the Itch. This is making me Re-think the Spartan race seeing as how it is the same course

  37. Bea says:

    It’s really sad to see these whiny posts. Obvioulsy you morons never spent anytime of your childhood outside. Get over it. Sorry you’re feeling uncomfortable for a little while. Just be thankful you don’t have a terminal illness. What a real dissappointment, it’s actually quite embarrasing to share the real world with you.

    1. Jenn says:

      Bea, why in the world is someone like you bothering to post here? How miserable!!! Many of us aren’t ‘whining’…I see nothing wrong with seeing an article, and reponding to see how other people are dealing with an uncomfortable rash. So unless someone has a ‘terminal illness’, they aren’t allowed to ask for advice on something that is making them uncomfortable? I for one had a great time at the race, am athletic, and have spent plenty of time outdoors. This is certainly not the worst ailment that I or I’m sure most of us have suffered from…but again there is nothing wrong with a group of people sharing stories and asking for tips. It’s people like you that bring so much negativity to our world and probably spend their days making negative comments like this. Lighten up!!!

      1. Dr. Drew says:

        Jenn, quite a few words from a whiner. It’s a bloody rash, get over it.

      2. jenn says:

        Nice ‘doctor’….another grump!!

  38. Sue says:

    The REAL question should be…Has any of the OTHER places that this Warrior Dash has been held, have this rash problem?? Or is Amesbury the only one?

  39. Lynn says:

    It seems that nearly all the folks posting that they got a rash a warrior dash are women. I’m curious how many men ended up itching as well. I too got a rash that i assumed was poison ivy – it looks different though. Is this rash in some way related to shaving my legs before the race and then wading though mud with some sort of funky stuff in it? Not wining, by the way. Just curious. I’m sure the rash will subside with time.

  40. Gail says:

    I ran the race and have the same rash! It was a great time though, Im sure it will go away in time, nothing earth shattering!!

  41. Cheryl says:

    I replied in an earlier post and decided to go to the doctor’s yesterday. He really had no answers, just some type of “dermatitis”, which is really inflammation of the skin. Origin unknown!!! he prescribed a topical corticosteroid cream and said if it didn’t get better, than he would give me something oral to take. He also said that usually dermatitis should clear up in a few weeks. This is week 2, we’ll see.

  42. Steve says:

    Suck it up people. You may want to limit your running to inside on a treadmill. To blame the organizers of this event is crazy. Take a little responsibility and deal with it. You were not forced to participate in the dash.

  43. Brad says:


    i have it.. it sucks but it happens.. you live you learn

  44. TLee says:

    It was poison ivy. Nothing mysterious…. Plain old fashioned poison ivy. A bit of cortisone and a beer and it’s no big deal. And I got it all over.
    Stop complaining. It’s a rash for crying out loud not an STD.

  45. steven alves says:

    This really needs to be investigated. My son, nephew and his girlfriend all did the Spartan race in New York State and all three got a bad rash. Not poison ivy according to doctors. They were itchy for 8 days and had to take medication to get rid of it. I wonder if the organizer of the Mass race is the same as the New York race. Where did they get the water that was sprayed on to create the mud.

  46. tammy says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens with the Spartan race.

  47. tammy says:

    There was a landfill in the area. How do we find out if it was where the race was?

  48. Rlynden says:

    For “Warriors” they sure seem like a whiny bunch. you signed up for an even called “warrior dash”, you knew what you were getting into, I saw pics of people running through FIRE, and someone is complaining they were given more “protection”

    protection from what? your own ignorance? do the world a favor and watch it on tv next time.

  49. Corey says:

    I didn’t want to respond but after reading all these replies calling people that are asking about a “mysterious rash” whiners and babies I just had to. You people with your negative responses need to get a f*cking life. I too have this rash. I thought it was just poison ivy (which I’ve had tons of times before) so I used calmine lotion to get rid of it like every other time… UNFORTUNATELY for me it’s not poison ivy because it’s not going away. I’m going to see a doctor tomorrow to find out what I have or at least see what they reccomend to get rid of it. I’m sure people DID get poison ivy from runniing in the mud in the woods. That wouldn’t be surprising at all! But the fact is a LOT of people have a rash that they can’t explain and they want answers. What’s wrong with that? Also it’s not just woman that this is happening to. Men too. Like me. Seriously, if you don’t have anything to do with this race NOR have a rash, get a life and go read some other posts that actually DO have something to do with you.

    1. Cheryl says:

      Well done!!!!!!

    2. Corey says:

      I saw the doctor today and she put me on a steroid for a week. She said that it was more than likely plant induced dermatitis and to take Benadryl for the itching.

    3. Michelle Farnkoff says:

      After itching for almost 2 weeks straight, I went to see my dermatologist. She put me on a very strong steriod cream. I have only been on it for about two days and you can barely see it anymore and there is no more itching.

  50. Scott says:

    From Amesbury, know the area well, and ran the race. This course was not run on a landfill. Did have an inexplicable rash from the knees down that fortunately cleared up in about a week. Have had poison ivy a number of times and this was definitely not poison ivy. Have also had folliculitis and although this had some similarities I am not convinced that it was folliculitis… The RIDICULOUS amount of mud made this the best race of its kind that I have ever done, and would do it again tomorrow!

  51. Samantha says:

    I have the same rash. I thought it was poison ivy but it doesn’t run in lines. So I called the drs. they put me on a cream but it didn’t work. So now I’m on a steroid since I’m going on 2 wks with this!! Let’s hope this works!

  52. Lynn says:

    I had the same rash. Having had poison ivy many times I can say with certainty it’s something else. Nearly 3 weeks later it’s almost gone without any treatment except witch hazel for the itch. Great race that I’ll definitely run again.

  53. BJ says:

    Me and a friend ran it on sunday the 26th and we did not get this rash.

  54. Enrico says:

    Sorry to hear some of you are still suffering. I ran the WD that Saturday and was one of the unfortunate souls to contract the “warrior rash”, which has cleared for the most part. So far I’ve heard folliculitis, parasites, poison ivy, and various unknown ailments requiring treatment. To the “I’ll never do this event again” crowd, questioning the organizers, planners, mud sifters, parking lot attendants, and beer stand vendors for not doing diligence to prevent this, please stop. You’re running through woods, mud, and climbing over obstacles thousands of others had before you. What did you expect would happen? Next year, run the race and take your chances because you all had a great time and walked away elated, despite the subsequent result.

  55. Kerri says:

    Still have the Warrior Rash. Didn’t plan on being a Warrior for a month+. Antibiotics didn’t work. Steroids over the past week has made some difference. Still have the rash and now left with scars. :-( Timing stinks. Middle of summer and no dresses, skirts, shorts, bathing suit for awhile with this rash and scarring.

  56. Aref says:

    Me and my buddies also got the dreaded rash… we thought it was chicken pox and my legs are raw from itching! We were thinking… to play a friendly spoof on them… we want to make t shirts that say “I Survived Rash Dash,” haha… Would anyone here want to buy/wear that shirt?

    1. Gail says:

      I certainly would, I stil have the rash, going to the Dr. today!

      1. Gail says:

        But I will be running it next year!!!! Great time!!!

    2. Kerri says:

      My shirt would say “and have the scars to prove it”. My legs look horrible! 9/15/11

  57. Alyssa says:

    I still have the rash and it’s almost a month later. Driving me crazy. Def not poison ivy to those who say that’s all it is. I’m really allergic to poison ivy and this looks nothing like it. Went to the Dr and they gave me 2 different creams which aren’t really helping much….

  58. Tammy says:

    I STILL have the rash as well…..it goes away then comes right back again int he same areas. What the heck is it?

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