Our Rugged-ready team consisted of two feisty ballerina-ninjas and one intrepid camera man/boyfriend. We met up just north of our venue and rolled in together to save $10 on parking which was a breeze at the convenient, and easily accessible, Portland International Raceway. A slight breeze complimented the warm sun as we began our journey from the car to the registration tent where we received our shirts and race bibs. We were then sent to another tent to collect our timing chips.
Chips laced in, and bibs pinned on, we took a stroll around the festival area. The race utilized a great space with tables and lots of space for meandering racers and vendors. We watched mildly inebriated men and medium sized children being thrown from the mechanical bull into an inflatable corral, and friends battling it out in a jousting pit. They even had a fun inflatable slide and tunnel bounce house for the little ones. The music was lively and the DJ was sassy — a great atmosphere.
About 5 minutes before our heat we dropped our stuff off at the free gear check and jumped the wall into the starting chute and chatted with the bright green group in front of us. The announcer did a good job of working up the crowd before sending us off with a countdown.
We started the race by sloshing through a couple of waist-deep muddy water trenches. Then, hopped over some short walls, up and over the A-frames and then a cattywompus pile of tires. The next was just as it sounded on the map – a “surprise pit”. One minute you’re just happily wading through knee-deep water then, boom, you’ve just plummeted into chest-deep water!
Next, a couple more minor obstacles then an honest to goodness fire jump! No fire-logs here. Real wood — you could smell it. Two bounds over toasty flames and we were reminiscing about doubling back for s’mores later.
Trenches were up next. Just wide enough to make you second guess your hop-skills, but at the same time requiring you to keep going to maintain momentum. We made it over without taking a tumble, despite the long-legged man in front of me hitting the brakes at a very inopportune moment.
A quick sprint up, across and down some bleachers and a dirt hill, then we breezed across the balance beam to end with an overly graceful landing.
Another set of bleachers stood in our path, but this time there was an added challenge of carrying a 25lb sandbag across our shoulders. We were wishing that they had two lanes available for the surer-footed to pass.
Next, we picked a path across a few dozen yards of uneven terrain. A fun challenge as long as you didn’t zig where another runner was planning to zag.
I would like to thank my minimal parkour training for my rhythmic execution of the next obstacle — a set of staggered short A-frames that which we bounded across back-and-forth as if we were playing a hot lava game. Directly after that, it was up and over a giant teeter-totter.
Somehow I missed the long, dark, enclosed, claustrophia-enducing tunnel on the course map. As I watched multiple racers skip, or attempt and then back out of the tunnel, I asked one important question. “Does it get smaller?” The volunteer answered, “No.” So, deciding that I couldn’t get stuck, I jumped in, closed my eyes and crawled the hot, pitch black, zig zagging tunnel as fast as I could.
After another water pit and a hill we splashed into a small pond with the goal to climb over several floating 6in diameter pipes, under the advisement of the volunteer to, “Keep [our] mouths closed!” because, “Diarrhea is real!” Things suddenly got serious.
Under some barbed wire and through a couple tubes, we emerged and ran on to an easy cargo net climb followed by a run across a tall bridge on the venue.
Finally, we had come to the tall walls that we saw earlier from the festival area and were excited to tackle. Before we had a chance to come up with a strategy, a random helpful racer reached his hand down and all but lifted the both of us over! Thankful, but determined to tackle the second one on our own, we used the leg-up method to get me over then I reached a hand down to help my partner. Once at the top, we breezed over and down the other side and shared a triumphant high-five.
Next, we gave our best attempt at the ring crossing, then we breezed over the ladder walls.
The culmination of the race was a run through a gauntlet of bubbles, a scramble up a slanted wall, then down a short but steep water slide.
I really liked the variety of obstacles in this race and the fact that they crammed 30 of them into the 5k distance. This is a great beginner race for someone who’s looking for the physical challenge of climbing ladders and hills but still working on strength and stamina.
I recommend Rugged Maniac to anyone looking for an accessible entry into OCR’s or just a messy good time with some fun physical challenges.