Rugged Maniac Atlanta Review

Rugged Maniac participants t-shirts and number

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



Christian Griffith

Christian Griffith is one of the Co-Founders of ORM. He can also now be found working with GORUCK as the SVP, Marketing.

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  1. I ran the Chicago event and found it to be the same. Taking out Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and the Superhero Scramble… which at my level of experience are beasts. I would rate Rugged Maniac in line with most others… A really good time without killing yourself. While its not always about the bling I do find it hard to pay the same amount for my entry fee as other races who offer a Finisher Medal.. Where Rugged Maniac does not. To me it’s the sense of completion when they hang it around my neck.

    1. Hi Josh, Chicago sounds like it would be fun. I found Rugged Maniac to be less expensive than most other races, but either way, I hear ya 🙂

  2. Spot on review. I found running downhill with my shoes caked in mud to be a much more difficult obstacle. Only constructive criticism would be the lack of a medal (yes, I’m a medal hound) and the lack of thorough time keeping. I paid $10 for my timing chip, and it doesn’t seem to have registered. The constant rain probably made electronic time keeping a challenge, but next time I’ll wear a watch for my own timing feedback.

    1. Tony, thanks for commenting, and yes, caked mud was an issue for sure …as were caked fingers and hands. As far as medals go, I’ve always believed metals were for performance, not finishing …you know, the whole “everyone gets a trophy” thing just for trying has never sat well with me. Races could offer options for medals, and if you don’t care, it’s $10 less or whatever. I just find that I have a house FULL of metals, and I never really look at them or do anything with ’em.

  3. I would have loved a medal too, but I do think it is the best shirt of an obstacle course race so far. I love mine!

    For the obstacles, they just needed to remember the short people. Those steps didn’t help a 5’4″ person and the knots in the rope on the tube to climb up were too far apart. With such wet hands, it was hard not slipping. The wonderful volunteer at the top got a great shoulder work out that day and much appreciated for pulling me up to the edge.

    I had a timing chip, but didn’t use it due to the friends that I was with. Glad I didn’t, because the tube obstacle would have blown any time to compare to other races. We started at 10am, but still had a 20 minute wait to do the tubes. Bad to have obstacles people feel the need to go around due to the time. I would do it next year!

    1. Hi Susan, I keep hearing more and more about the long lines at the “black tubes”. I didnt experience this because i ran the first heat.

      And yes! I neglected to mention the great shirt. Clean design, soft material, and good fit. Kinda ripped off “I am a Spartan” but whatever 🙂

  4. We had a great time.. 10am start time in Atlanta.

    Even with the shivering and wet before we ever hopped over the wall into the starting herd.

    Best of all was EVERYTHING caked in mud.

    The difficult part for me was ascending through the tunnel out of the mud pit, luckily I had assistance. Favorite part was the mud slinging that began while lying under the barbed wire with all the other maniacs.

    I cannot say enough about the great attitude of everyone there. Everyone was helping each other, it is a wonderful thing to see.

    This was my first mud run.
    I decided in April to sign up, which forced me to workout to be ready.

    I am now hooked! Spartan Sprint here I come!!
    In Atlanta, March 2014!

  5. Wow Josh I couldn’t have said it better myself. Although fun, Rugged did not offer the sense of accomplishment I got from Spartan Race and others. I found the obstacles to not pose much of a challenge at all. I would recoccomend it to anyone trying out an obstacle race for the first time. It still bugs me that they dont offer finishers medals.My friends have proclaimed me a “medal whore”, a title I gladly accept.

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