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.

  • Johnny B

    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…

    • mike wazowski

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

    • Casey

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

  • Tammy

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

  • Warrior with an itchy wife

    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?

  • Lee

    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…

    • Mary Ann

      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.

    • Cheryl

      Can you classify “severe”?

  • Kara

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

  • Jenn

    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.

  • BearGrylls

    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!

    • Maria

      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…

    • Susan

      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*

  • Andrea

    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!

  • Cheryl

    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.

  • Laura K

    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 :-)

  • Laura K

    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.

  • Jill

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

  • Brad

    it is “swimmers itch” or “duck itch”

  • Kendra perry

    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

  • Maggie from Worcester

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

  • Katy

    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.

    • beaches

      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.

    • Rebecca

      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.

      • Rebecca

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

  • Trish

    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.

  • Jim

    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.

  • Lb

    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?

  • Chris

    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.

  • FIN

    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.

  • Dave

    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.

    • Tammy

      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.

  • Kim

    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?

  • Tammy

    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.

    • lisa

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

  • Susan

    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

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