Rugged Maniac Long Island 2018

I have been running Obstacle Race thingies for about 6 years now and while I once wrote a review of Rugged Maniac from a spectator with kids perspective I had never run one before…. until last weekend!  How did it come to be? How was it!? Give us the low down!

How did it come to be?

Well, generally I run the race that must not be named when it is in Long Island but since I am doing #zeroeventsin2018 I chose to run Rugged Maniac which was roughly 40 minutes from my house. As it were, my 13-year-old niece is up visiting New York for 2 weeks and I thought it would be cool to have her run her first Obstacle Race on her vacation.

I quickly checked their website and made sure that age 13 was good to go (it was) and found a deal on Groupon and snagged her a well priced last minute registration. We got her some Swiftwick socks (Aspire 4), trail running shoes (Saucony Excursions from DSW), and took her on her first trail run before throwing her to the wolves on Saturday. We were all set!

How was it!?

I am a firm believer that as long as the race doesn’t royally screw up by not delivering what they advertise, having insanely long lines or putting participants in danger that “How was it?” is a very subjective answer. If you are going to Rugged Maniac to race “elite” you probably will have a much different take on the race than someone who brought his 13-year-old niece to her first race. I had an exceptionally good time and I will tell you why.

Easy things they got right:

Registration was easy. You can choose any lane and while I was secretly worried about my niece not having an ID even though the website said she didn’t need one there was no issue getting her squared away at registration. PHEW. I love that they give the shirts out at registration because you can wear them without getting them dirty after the race. Also, Swiftwick is my favorite brand of socks and I was SO FRACKIN EXCITED when we got coupons for a free pair of Swiftwick socks.

Extras that I enjoyed:

We got there a touch early and my parents and children were at the event in addition to my wife and niece. We scoped out the festival area and were able to kill time by looking at merch (reasonably priced), the event photo booth setup (not reasonably priced), and doing pull-ups to win hats (Marine and Army booths). I missed the kids’ bouncy house that they had at Rugged Virginia 2 years ago, but my kids behaved and the spectators enjoyed themselves. I didn’t ride the mechanical bull, but that probably would have been fun too. Lastly, the Harpoon Beer was tasty. I actually picked up a sixer of the UFO White at the supermarket later that day after trying it as my free beer. #sponsorsuccessstories

The Low Down

I really enjoyed Rugged Maniac and it was an incredible experience having my niece run her first race and seeing her enjoy herself as well. After she completed obstacles that she wasn’t sure she could she threw around words like “feeling accomplished” which I vividly remember from many of the races I have run. It’s a great feeling that causes the bug. In fact, she already asked if we can do it again when she visits next year.

The Obstacles

Rugged Maniac has a good mixture of semi-challenging, fun, and easy obstacles. They also gave you thick, nasty, and STANKY mud that is a staple at any fun race. If you are a seasoned obstacle racer chances are there aren’t any obstacles that you would struggle completing, but if you are new to these events and don’t have familiarity with rings, ropes, and moving monkey bars they can be challenging. Could they add a few wreck bag carries in like they used to have and add some weight to the hoist? Sure, but even without them, it was still a good time.


There was a time when I was a snob about Obstacle Races and I am happy to say those days are behind me. If you are rolling up to a Rugged Maniac to win and you have complaints about the obstacle difficulty you probably should show up to some other races to throw down. My whole squad enjoyed themselves and it appears that my mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law will be lacing them up for their first race next year! #spectatorsuccessstories



Rugged Maniac Northern California: A Formula For Fun

Rugged Maniac has certainly always stuck to a formula of fun and there was no shortage of that in NorCal on Saturday. Race day, May 26th, started out a little colder than a typical day in the east bay. It had been raining the day before the race and left the grounds slightly damp. This didn’t deter any of the soon to be runners as they filed into the venue from the nearby parking lot. The first waves of the day started off with a drizzle and cool breeze. After a while, the sun broke through the clouds, making for a warm but comfortable afternoon.
Rugged Maniac The Accelerator 3.0
As I entered the festival area I was greeted by music and dancing creating the vibe of walking into a big party. Multiple prime food trucks and vendor tents lead me in towards the main stage where competitions were held throughout the day to entertain the crowd. Guests were encouraged to participate in pie eating, beer holding and pull up competitions. For those not there for the race but to support their friends and family, the event offered free entry to the festivities. This made for a real spectator friendly event with something for everyone.
Rugged Maniac Beer Holding Contest
The festival area was set beside the start and finish line and was overlooked by the grand finale of obstacles, Mount Maniac. This mammoth is actually made up of two back to back obstacles, the Warped Wall and Accelerator. In order to climb this beast, you must first run up a quarter pipe and then reach out for some helpings hands. This is a great opportunity for some teamwork because it is customary to then turn and be the helping hand for others. This obstacle was the pinnacle of the race and it caused many people to pause before trying to complete it. The Accelerator, an enormous inflatable slide, was built off the back of the Warped Wall taking participants even higher before they came barreling down at breathtaking speed for a photo finish.
Rugged Maniac The Warped Wall
I caught up with a couple at the finish line as they were receiving their medals and looking extremely happy. They introduced themselves as Tim and Renee Hennessy and said they had loved the course. They weren’t as cold at the finish line as they expected but that might have had to do with an obstacle malfunction at the Accelerator. For a portion of the day participants were asked to climb off the Warped Wall and go around to the finish line. This left them dry at the end of the race instead of having the traditional dunk in the water at the end.
Rugged Maniac Tim and Renee Hennessy
Overall it was a flat and fast course with terrain over both gravel and grass. The first mile and a half was mostly running but punctuated by some strength based obstacles like Sled Dog and Pull Your Weight. On the second half of the course the obstacles became grander. One such obstacle was the new fan favorite Off the Rails. Here participants were required to use their momentum to swing out over a pool of water while hanging from a small rope on a zip line and ring a bell. No matter how far out they were able to swing everyone ends up in the water which extended far past the bell.
Rugged Maniac Off the Rails
Over the 3-mile, 25 obstacle course, there was a fair share of inflatable obstacles that play up the element of fun. Most runners couldn’t help but stop and enjoy them, just like kids on a playground. I saw many people do exactly that on The Crag, a large inflated staircase with a top of pillars to crawl through. Even with the playfulness, Rugged Manic had options for the more serious participants too. They offered a competitive wave and Rugged Maniac X, multi-lap options.
Rugged Maniac The Crag
Just like my fellow participants- I found myself becoming more childlike as I ran, climbed, crawled, and bounced toward the finish line. It was over too soon and left me ready to sign up for another one.  Except, next time, I’ll be bringing a group to my next Rugged Maniac because it makes for a perfect introduction to the life of OCR.Rugged Maniac Finisher Medals

Rugged Maniac- North Carolina

As I arrived at the Rockingham Dragway for my first ever Rugged Maniac, I had no clue what to expect. I was mentally on the fence about the race the entire drive and the wait before the starting line. On one hand, I was excited to see a new course that I had never run before, with new obstacles that I had never seen and a new race to challenge myself with. On the other hand, this was a race series that I had never done before and facing the unknown obstacles invoked a mental challenge.


As I walked up to the registration tents, I noticed something that I’ve never seen before: long lines. This registration process was different than any that I had ever experienced. The registration tables didn’t open until one hour before the race. You were not restricted to one tent you could register, and could use any tent you wished. After picking up my race packet, I made my way over to grab my timing chip. Their concept of this was also new to me. I had to pay an extra $10 to be officially timed. Even though I got to keep the timing chip, I think they should move away from this policy. The bag check was also not very well-run, as it was seemingly an unpoliced tent with tables where you placed your bag wherever you want to.

Load in time! As the 10 o’clock racers jumped the initial wall to get into the corral, my adrenaline begins to pump. I’m ready to make my way onto the course to see what this day has in store for me. The emcee gets us pumped for the race as usual, then sends us off with the blast of an air horn. After a good 300 yard run, we come up on the first obstacle: the barricades. These five foot walls have become standard for almost every obstacle race I run, which makes it fairly easy to get over them.


Around the corner and onto obstacle number two, I see trenches dug in the ground. As I race up and jump over the first, I made the mistake of looking down into the trench and noticed that it was about 4 feet deep. I immediately put on the brakes as my fear of falling into them took over. It only took a few seconds to get my mentality back into check and cautiously proceed over them with broad leaping strides.

Next up after a short run was a pretty standard obstacle as well an A-frame ladder followed by an obstacle named the “Speed Trap.” I didn’t think anything of this obstacle as it just seemed to be a shallow water crossing where I tend to excel because of my sure footing. This one however had a five foot drop off about 15 feet from the end that was highly unexpected but pleasantly welcomed. Following the speed trap, I came up on three very large dirt mounds that I had to climb.


Following this obstacle, we went into the woods for what I thought would be some nice trail running, but faced what turned out to be practically running on the beach. This slowed me down quite a bit, seeing as that I had never ran on such soft terrain. After “Beam Me Up,” a standard plank ladder obstacle, came some new ones – “Tipping Point,” where you had to balance yourself up across a see-saw, then the “Pipe Dream” which involves going down a pipe into a barbed wire topped army crawl through water then back up a pipe on the other side.

A good bit of running both through the beach-like trails and beside the track separated the next seven obstacles. The first obstacle on this long stretch was the leap of faith, where I noticed a lot of people just dropping in right at the beginning. But I did what it said and took my long leap about halfway across the pool of water, propelling me past a few racers. Down the hill and around the corner was an obstacle that I feel like you don’t see enough – the balance beam, where slow and cautious will leave you in the pool below. The next four obstacles are OCR favorites of every race: the cargo net followed by barbed wire, walls, and carries, oh my (a barbed wire crawl with an eight foot wall topped off with a Wreck Bag carry.)


After the Wreck Bag, the course snaked its way up to the dragway as we hopped the safety walls and ran across it and headed into the grandstands. Having never been to the Rockingham Dragway, I expected this to be a normal stair obstacle here. But when I reached the top of the hill, I looked down at the stands and noticed there were no real stairs, only the bare concrete seating, which reminded me of giant stairs like you would see at the Greek Parthenon.

After the stairs of the gods as I called them, it was back across the dragstrip and up to two obstacles I have only seen advertised on the Rugged Maniac, as well as the homestretch where they had grouped the rest of the obstacles pretty closely together. The “Frog Hop” where racers had to traverse a pool of water by hopping from one floating platform to another was followed by the “Gauntlet” where racers crossed a pool of water on a scaffold and could get a little nasty by using the inflatable hanging pillars to knock other racers off their feet and into the pool below. Completing the rings was fairly simple and was followed by another giant mound of dirt to climb over.


The next obstacle I would have to say was one of my favorite obstacle I had ever done – “Antigravity.” Starting on a platform, I jumped onto a trampoline and grabbed the wall, which was laced with a cargo net. From the other side of that wall, I jumped four feet down onto the next trampoline and could have almost cleared the next wall, but decided to cling to the next wall also laced with a cargo net, which made me feel a bit like Spiderman.

“Pyromaniac” was three fire jumps that led to the last obstacle group, “Warped Wall,” which I would compare to the “Tsunami” and “Everest” respectively but a great deal easier. “Mt. Maniac,” an angled cargo net, led to the top of the “Accelerator,” a great water slide to finish the race off with. I took advantage of my momentum coming off of the slide to pass three racers who I was neck and neck with at the end and finished strong, officially as a Rugged Maniac!


Until next time, STAY RUGGED!

*Photos By: Michael Arrowood and Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac 2014- “Shark-Tank-ified”

How does an already growing OCR company use an influx of money from a celebrity investor?

In April, the company behind Rugged Maniac was featured on “Shark Tank” — an ABC program where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to a panel of potential investors. If the panel is interested, some negotiations may take place and a deal may be struck between a panel member and an investor.

On the show, Rob Dickens and Bradford Scudder — the entrepreneurs behind Rugged Maniac – pitched their 5k obstacle race as a shorter, entry-level obstacle race more challenging than some, but more accessible than longer, more intense events (Tough Mudder was mentioned by name). Panel member Mark Cuban – the high-profile owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres and Magnolia Pictures — agreed to invest $1.75 million in exchange for 25% ownership in the company.

During the show, the panel asked Dickens and Scudder how they would spend the capital investment. Their answer was curiously left unanswered (perhaps due to television editing decisions).

Even without hearing the answer, though, ORM decided to use the eye-ball test to guess where some of the money went. When Rugged Maniac came to Conyers, GA on August 16, 2014, we had the opportunity to compare it to the race held in the same location last year. This comparison showed that the 2014 race was noticeably better. The overall presentation was bigger, more professional, and more exciting.

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The differences were obvious right away, even from the road. The “festival” area was surrounded by large distinctive obstacles and featured signs and blow ups colorfully emblazoned with the race’s Rugged Man (and Rugged Woman) logo, whereas the signage last year was much smaller with a lot of black and white printing. As you approached the venue, the new presentation created an exciting atmosphere – A feeling that something special and important was about to happen.

Money definitely went into the large, signature obstacles surrounding the festival area. The first of the obstacles was The Gauntlet.


Last year The Gauntlet consisted of several tires tied to ropes swinging back and forth at racers as they attempted to cross a balance beam over water. This year the entire structure was replaced. Racers still attempted to cross a balance beam over water, but the old tires were replaced by custom made, brightly colored, gigantic punching-bag looking objects. The bags were light and airy to the touch and were more likely to bounce off you than knock you into the water.


The unique Antigravity obstacle was new this year. Here, you jump from a platform, bounce off of a small trampoline, and then, if you hit the trampoline correctly, fly in the air to (hopefully) grab on to a cargo net covered wall, sticking to it like Spider-man. Very fun.

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Mt. Maniac overlooked the festival area. This newly designed, multi-part obstacle started with a quarter-pipe type wall climb. Runners took a running start and tried to run up the wall to the platform above. From there, racer climbed up and across a cargo net to the top of an impressive, but ultimately fairly tame water slide which settled gently into shallow water several feet from the finish line.

On the racecourse away from the festival area were other new and improved obstacles as well as several familiar favorites, including:

  • Fulcrum Fun where racers had to run up one side of a huge seesaw while it teetered and then back down the other side as it tottered.
  • Ninja Escape which was similar to American Ninja Warrior’s Quintuple Step, in which competitors must jump across several alternately positioned platforms that are angled 45° degrees toward the center.
  • The Ringer in which racers hung from a series of reasonably spaced dangling rings and used them to cross over a water pit in monkey bars type fashion.
  • Several muddy climbs over steep dirt mounds, up small cliffs, through entrenched tubes, and under barbed wire.
  • Balance beams, cargo nets, tall walls and other common but fun obstacles.


The course and obstacles were more challenging (and in my mind more fun) than races such as Warrior Dash or Merrell Down and Dirty, but not as intense as the typical Savage Race or Spartan Race. Rugged Maniac has never awarded finisher medals and this was the case at the Georgia race. However we have heard that they plan on awarding medals at races in the near future.

Rugged Maniac did not include a kids’ race, but it did have multiple inflatable bounce house activities and other diversions.

Registration for those who did not want a timing chip was fast and easy. However, for those who did want timing, there was a long wait in line. Using some money to speed up this part of the process would be a useful investment.

Overall, Rugged Maniac seems to have used its cash influx wisely to improve and upgrade an event that was already pretty good to begin with.

Check out our video coverage below!

*Photos By: Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac Atlanta Review

Rugged Maniac Review, Atlanta, Georgia

Rugged Maniac participants t-shirts and number

Ok, first, let me get the “bad” out of the way, because I really liked Rugged Maniac, and want to get to the good!

The race website reads,

“Ready to be challenged? Our courses feature at least twenty obstacles constructed by an experienced crew of licensed contractors. These aren’t the pop-up kiddie obstacles you’ll see at other races.”

Yes, they were. They were exactly the same obstacles you’ll see at other races.

Yup, even fire.

Most of the obstacles were not only obstacles we see at other races, but in Rugged Maniac’s case, they were even easier versions of the obstacles. For example, the cargo nets were slanted, not vertical; the eight foot walls actually had steps on them, and many of the mud pits had ropes to help runners climb out.

But in fairness to Rugged Maniac, they weren’t trying to pimp themselves as the ultimate athlete test, and did an excellent job promoting the obstacle race as just a part of the overall festivities planned for an awesome Saturday afternoon outdoors. Also planned for the day were live bands, a kids race, food, and of course, everyone’s favorite – beer.

Rain Makes it More Rugged


One of the many barbed wire crawls 

True to typical Georgia so far this summer, it rained.

It was raining when we got there, raining when we started, and by the time we completed two miles, it was pretty much raining buckets – exactly the way I like to run obstacle races in the wooded trails of Gaw’gia.

The first few obstacles were pretty mild with some mud slogging and tire negotiating, but the real obstacle was the terrain itself. It became so muddy, so quickly, and finding acceptable footing was far more a challenge than some of the man-made structures.

We ran short ups, a few fast downs, mostly along jeep roads, and with some single-track trail thrown in for good variety.

Some Interesting Obstacles

Rugged Maniac did step up with some creative obstacles. One of which was a 20-to-30 foot tall wooden structure that was as easy to climb as a step ladder, but if you were afraid of heights, and because of the rain and mud and wet, you might sweat a little at the top of the thing as you negotiate getting over to the other side and descending.

Rugged Maniac tunnels

The “dark tunnels” 

Another interesting obstacle was a series of parallel tunnels, but with only one of the tunnels having a visible exit. This might be hard to picture, but typically, when you go underground in a tunnel, you can see the other side – not at Rugged Maniac – all of the tunnels, but one, forced runners (er, crawlers) to make a sharp left turn at the end, before finding the way out. This made it dark, as in pitch black, the entire time runners crawled through, so it was easy to think it closed off at the end.

At least, that’s what I thought, so I turned around, thinking it was an obstacle trick.

It wasn’t and I lost time.

The last really “stand-out” obstacles were the black tubes. Runners had to enter these tight, black tubes (there’s no way some of the bigger runners were getting into these tubes), and descend into a pit of barbed wire mud crawl. After completing the short mud crawl, runners then had to climb out of the mud, through one of those tight tubes again, pulling one’s body up and out with a rope.

This was not easy. Just ask ORM’s Matt B. Davis.

Two Thumb Up

I give Rugged Maniac two thumbs up.

Not because it was the hardest or gnarliest or craziest obstacle race, but because it delivered on what it advertised – a feels-good event, centered around fun, camaraderie, and the celebration of the outdoors.

The organization was good, the volunteers encouraging, and the event had that ‘feel’ when you know the organizers care about putting on a great event.

By the way, hot showers at the end? It doesn’t get any better than that.


photo credit: Amber Rose Jones