Mark Cuban’s investment in Rugged Maniac was one of the most successful ventures in the history of the Shark Tank series, and Rugged Maniac now holds 30 race events over the US and Canada, carving out its place in a fairly saturated OCR landscape. But what is that place? Why hadn’t I done one until now? Is it worth your time? Had I banked enough wife points for yet another weekend away? Read on to find out.
Attracted by the scent of freshly churned soil and shot-blocks, Derek Evanson of @spartanliving and I woke early. arriving at the Spruce Meadows show-jumping grounds just in time for the first heat. Wife points for OCR are in the red, but I’ll make it up to her.
Rugged Maniac is an event that wears a broad, contagious smile and maintains a welcoming atmosphere. Staff onsite were enthusiastic and the volunteers on course seemed to be having a good time; well, most of them at least (cheer up guys! It’s a free race!). This is an event that prides itself on being burpee free, and participants seemed very happy with that. TLDR; energy was great at this venue.
Oh, and the parking was great. Really great.
This was a fun race, although at just 3 miles, it was not a particularly challenging one for the experienced OCR athlete. For those who wanted to, it did offer an opportunity to open out the running pace and test themselves on obstacles that were challenging without being prohibitively difficult. There are, of course, a couple of exceptions; the ‘Bang the Gong’ obstacle took a lot of competitors by surprise and claimed just as many disqualifications as the ‘Dead Ringer’ rig. Quite a few of the elite heat competitors had difficulties on both of these obstacles.
Overall, for those who are new to obstacle racing, the course provided a great introduction to the format. In fact, I would recommend this race to anyone in Alberta who wants to run their first OCR. It’s a great place to start!
It’s also a great place to spectate and party. The festival area was well equipped for post race shenanigans, allowing racers and spectators the opportunity to chat and mingle. They even had pie eating competitions, pull up contests and stein holding tournaments throughout the day. I must say that other OCR events could learn from the layout and quality of the event arena. It included a post race recovery station, a physio, swag tent, beer, food and seating. Rugged Maniac made sure this was also a spectator friendly event, with a great view of the starting area and final obstacle – the 50 ft waterslide. Caveat: There weren’t enough porta potties.
Did I mention that the parking was also excellent? It only cost $10 and was about 30 yards from the arena. They even had change for a 20…! It was asphalt!
With an elite wave to start the day, awards and the threat of possible disqualification through non-completion of an obstacle, there was the real opportunity to test yourself… if you wanted to. I wanted to and came in second place. If you run your little heart out, Rugged Maniac does not cheap out on the Top Finisher’s medal. This slab of metal weighs a tonne and is probably my favourite thing right now.
However, we need to talk about what happened with the timing and results. Something weird happened at this race.
The timing chips malfunctioned badly, and the official results are still being corrected. It was a bizarre and unfortunate moment in an otherwise great showing for Rugged Maniac in Calgary – and some people who should have been on the podium looked on as the prizes were handed out to people who had finished much later in the race. Stuff like this happens occasionally- we get over it. Everyone was very civil and apologized profusely for any trouble, especially those wronged by the situation – this is Canada after all. Honestly, they are the nicest people in the world.
OBSTACLE DESIGN AND COURSE LAYOUT
Two water stations were available and well stocked (other large corporate entities should take note) and we got to tackle just about every possible type of obstacle known to OCR on a flat course. For those of you who haven’t tried a Rugged Maniac race yet, here is a pretty comprehensive list of the obstacles on offer. At this race, the obstacles are of a high quality and seemed to be well planned for the most part. ‘Bang The Gong’ and the hilariously named ‘Blobstacle’ – a huge cargo net wrapped inflatable balloon were my personal favourites.
Simple additions like a mound of excavated dirt added a distinctive challenge to this otherwise flat course. Soon, these mounds turned into mud-piles, dishing out muddy chaos and fun later in the day. One other great touch: a lot of the water obstacles featured chlorinated water! It’s the small things that make a difference.
Helping each other on obstacles is OK during a rugged maniac, in fact it is encouraged. The social card is always a strong one to play, and after the elite wave had blasted through the course, it was great to see people pulling each other through the mud and up the obstacles.
This race knows what it wants to be; Rugged Maniac is a recreational gateway drug into the world of OCR. It’s an experience to come back to for a great time, but it’s limited to one distance and one format. If the Spartan Sprint is the intimidating cousin, Rugged Maniac is the more approachable brother or sister who will play and laugh with you. Needless to say, it was hard not to enjoy the experience.
Rugged Maniac is a neat, well-oiled machine, with great attention to detail and impeccable planning. Rugged Maniac has the ability to challenge, while retaining the ability to entertain, but I’d love to see the race on more challenging terrain in Calgary, but that’s just me.
Is it worth your time and money? Based on Calgary, Yes. Rugged Maniac is competitively priced, generally well organized and well executed. It wasn’t the most challenging race I’ve ever done, but then again it was probably one of the most entertaining. It reminded me of my first ever OCR race in a lot of ways. It was a chance to try something different, and to get back to the heart of the matter: fun. If you have one nearby, I’d definitely check it out – provided the timing issues are resolved. It’s time to get Rugged!