Rugged Maniac NorCal 2017

In 2017, Rugged Maniac came back to the East Bay of San Francisco for their NorCal event. Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and Terrain Race have races in the area shortly before and after Rugged Maniac, but Rugged Maniac has a special appeal since it has something for everyone:

A competitive heat at the very comfortable time of 9:45am, muddy trenches and crawls, barbed wire, seesaws, climbing and swinging obstacles, water jumps, cargo nets, a warped wall, and an inflatable water slide to the finish!

Really the only people who would be disappointed are those who prefer long distances or mountain goat running. This mud run was a quick 5k (well, kinda… more on that later) on completely flat terrain.

The combination of fun obstacles, easy terrain, and having a competitive option makes Rugged Maniac a great first recommendation to people who are interested in OCR.

All obstacles can be found on Rugged Maniac’s website and most of them can be viewed in this YouTube playlist.

Event Venue

The Alameda County Fairgrounds have a big enough festival area to host food, drink, and several gear vendors. A DJ stage in the center is used for the awards ceremony, as well as contests like max pull ups or holding up a beer stein as long as possible.

Changing tents and a few weak water hoses hooked up to a metal frame provided something similar to a shower. For the size of crowd, this worked fine; for larger masses of people, it would not be enough. Having Dirty Bird soap next to the showers was nice and made cleaning up easy enough.

Rugged Maniac NorCal Start Finish

Competition and Timing

Similar to Tougher Mudder, only the first wave of the day is competitive, and it costs a little bit more. However, timing is not done via the timing chip we all have learned to love to mess with before races.

Earlier this year, Rugged Maniac announced they would stop timing their events completely. Shortly after, they quickly reacted to feedback and reintroduced manual timing for the Top 10 male and female finishers (=Qualifier for OCR World Championship). Additionally, participants can read their finishing time off of a clock at the finish line and later enter it on Rugged Maniacs website.

Awards go to the Top 3 male and female finishers in the form of Top Finisher medals, a free race entry, and some swag.

Rugged Maniac Results


Flat and fast with a bit of gravel but mostly grass describes it best. The obstacles were spaced out nicely and provided a nice mix of mud, water, jumping, climbing, and crawling, with only a few stretches of uninterrupted running.

The only little hiccup was, this 5k wasn’t a 5k… 5 km equals 3.106 miles and this race was closer to 2.5 miles. It’s hard to imagine that anyone cared too much about getting a bit less distance than they expected though, which is exactly the kind of thing that makes Rugged Maniac a fun obstacle race!

All pictures and videos owned by the author unless otherwise noted.

Rugged Maniac’s Changes Its Timing Protocol

Rob Dickens, co-founder of Rugged Maniac, recently sent out an e-mail explaining the way this event will time competitors going forward. After relying on timing chips, and then making timing chips optional (at an additional cost), the race has decided to do away with timing chips entirely. For 2017, anyone who wants to compete for a spot on the podium will have to enter the first wave of the day. Other competitors will simply time themselves against the start and finish line clocks. Rugged Maniac will then let you submit your time to their online database so that you can track yourself against others in your age group, at the same event, etc.

This move appears to solve lots of problems: racers who are competitive can race in a competitive heat. Those who want to keep track of their score and compare their performance with others can do so (assuming enough people take the extra step of reporting their time). Those who want to participate as part of a “fun run” are automatically do this. And no one has to pay for a complex, expensive timing system. This arrangement is similar to the one Warrior Dash implemented a few years ago.

The only possible downside to this arrangement is that it might have compromised Rugged Maniac’s ability to serve as a qualifying event for the OCR World Championships.  However, Rugged Maniac and OCRWC are working together so that the top ten male and female finishers at each event will qualify for OCRWC.

I asked Rob some questions about this new format:

ORM: Did you compare notes with the people at Warrior Dash to see how their transition to this system had worked?
Rob: We did not.  We looked at what our contemporaries were doing with regards to timing to see what options were available, and we talked to our Maniacs to understand what was most important to them. What we learned was that Maniacs choose to get timed for one of two reasons: (1) they want to win the race and/or qualify for the OCR World Championships or (2) they want to see how fast they are compared to others.

Moving away from chip timing actually allows us to better provide what our Maniacs want.  With respect to winners/OCRWC qualifiers, we’ll have our staff at the finish line to manually record the top 10 men and women in the Elite Heat, which is a more accurate system than chip timing (but not scalable for timing everyone) and doesn’t cost the runners anything.  We’ll continue to award prizes to the top 3 men, top 3 women, and top man and woman 50 or older.  We’ll no longer offer an under-20 category.

For those who simply want to know how they stack up against the field, we’ll compile self-reported times from Maniacs who wish to be included in the unofficial results, sort them by age and gender, and then make them available after each event.  This is an improvement over what we were doing in previous years because now that Maniacs no longer have to pay $10 for a timing chip, many more will submit their times for the unofficial results, creating a much larger field for comparison.

ORM: Since I am a lawyer by training and therefore inclined to see the worst in people, I have to ask about the possibility of cheating. The start and finish are easy to monitor, but what about the obstacles on the course? Wouldn’t it be easy for a less-than-honest competitor to skip obstacles on his way to a top ten finish?
Rob: Nothing will change with regards to obstacle completion on the course.  We have always relied on a combination of staff monitoring and runner self-policing to ensure that only those who complete all obstacles are eligible to win the race or qualify for the OCRWC.
I reached out to OCRWC founder Adrian Bijanada, who told me “as long as they have sufficient staff to guarantee the integrity of results ” he was happy to accept the new timing scheme.  This includes marshaling on the course.
The reaction on Facebook has been encouraging. One bonus that Rob did not trumpet is that Rugged Maniac does not charge extra to sign up for the first, elite heat, unlike most races with competitive first waves..
 While this might not be the best development for the timing chip industry, it represents progress for the sport as a whole. It acknowledges that participants come to races for a variety of reasons and with a variety of expectations. It also presents the possibility that more races might eliminate the extra expense of timing, which is a good thing for smaller races that are trying to grow. Finally, it sends a message that more people are welcome at more races: you don’t have to be competing against anyone to take part, but if you feel the drive of competition after trying one of these races, you can come back again with tracking your time as a goal. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Here’s the full text of what Rugged Maniac sent out:

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve decided to eliminate official timing at our events.  Going forward, you won’t have to pay $10 for a timing chip to see how you stack up against your fellow Maniacs on the course!

Here’s how it’ll work:  The post-race email will contain a link to an online form where you can enter your name, age, gender, and finish time as determined by you (there will be a clock at the finish line for this purpose).  We’ll then sort all the results by age and gender and post them on our website.  The beauty of this system is that it’ll be open to everyone, not just the people who run in the Elite Heat, so you’ll see your time compared to many more people than in the past.

This system will NOT be used to determine the winners, so there’s no incentive for people to intentionally fudge their times.  The winners will be the top 3 men and top 3 women who cross the finish line in the 9:45 a.m.Elite Heat.  The top-10 men and top-10 women in the Elite Heat will also qualify to compete in the OCR World Championships.  We will not record times for anyone outside of the top-10 in the Elite Heat.

I hope to see you at an event this year! As an added bonus, sign up between now and January 13th and take 10% off your registration with promo code TIMING.


Rob Dickens
Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac – Chicago 2016

14203219_1497065580319080_2646940759947705795_nThe 2016 Chicago/Milwaukee Rugged Maniac was held August 27th at CPX Sports near Joliet Illinois. The venue was a change up from the old location of Wilmot Mountain Ski resort in Wisconsin. Yes, gone were the steep hill climbs as they were now replaced by trails set between different paintball areas of CPX. Advertised as a 5k course, the distance came up as 2.82 miles with almost no elevation change by my GPS watch. The event was a tad bit hard to find and brutal to get out of with long lines of traffic. Once there, 10 bucks got you onsite parking right next to the event. The first wave, and only timed heat, started at 9:45 and the volunteers checking you in were very strict about not signing anyone in until 9 am. This was super frustrating to those of us waiting in the rain. The volunteers were ready by 8:45 but just sat there for the next 15 minutes. Once checked in, timed runners were given a take home timing chip, and after reviewing the results they might want to use a different timing system. At least half of the racers times were either wrong or not listed causing great frustration.

race_2437_photo_41391125So on to the actual race. The rain leading up to, and during the race made for a sloppy run around the cleared trails. Rugged had us start out with a half mile run through the slop leading us up to a wall to climb over with a padded bar on top called the Barricades before throwing us back on the muddy path towards the shoe catcher {muddy pond) and the trenches. These required an athlete to jump over dug out areas in the ground, one slip and down you went. After a short jog, Beam Me Up was the next obstacle. This was just your basic large wooden ladder you see at a lot of events. Next up were the quad burners, muddy pits with a mountain of dirt to climb out of. I found that Rugged liked to put one of these after a lot of obstacles to kind of ramp up the difficulty. Bang the Gong was the next unique obstacle up for runners. An athlete had to jump into a water pit and smack a metal plate suspended over the pit before moving on to Claustrophobia. This obstacle was a series of covered tunnels that required you to navigate your way through and out of.

14199153_1497065546985750_5505127803929027703_nNow onto the back part of the course; the obstacles came so quickly you could see the next one up in front of you right after you finished one. We started this section with the Pack Mule, a short jog with a wreck bag on your shoulder and over another wooden ladder. The Ninja Escape was next up and the obstacle consisted of a set of teeter totter boards one had to traverse followed up by a set of angled boards called the tipping point where one had to run through very much like the beginning “floating steps” of American Ninja Warrior. Following that obstacle was a very cool set of rings suspended over water and Rugged was smart enough to place a photographer there which sure made for some outstanding shots! After crossing over another large mud mound and rounding a bend sending us back to the festival area, we had to climb up an over the inflatable Blobscicle and jump over the ever popular fire pit. Anti-gravity was a Rugged unique obstacle where an athlete had to use a trampoline to vault oneself up to a cargo net strapped onto an inflatable and was a total blast to complete.

With the end in sight, Rugged threw some of their more popular obstacles at us. The Frog Hop was a series of large jugs tied together over another water pit. One slip and in the drink you went! Another water obstacle, the Gauntlet, placed you over a pit of water on a series of foam mats while you dodged large padded balls that were seriously bent on knocking you off stride. The warped wall led athletes up and onto a cargo ladder called Mount Maniac! Let me tell you, if you missed that warped wall, the slide down tore up whatever skin you had exposed. The Accelerator, a large slide into a water pit was the last obstacle we encountered with a short jog to the finish line right after.

14199400_1497065426985762_1891898805780411826_nI found the Chicago Rugged Maniac to really be a lot of fun. It’s certainly a race most anyone could do, lots of mud and the obstacles were not super difficult. The short distance was ideal for first time racers. Maybe a multi-lap option would be a good thing for Rugged to start offering. As previously stated, their registration process could use some fixing. Most events let you register an hour before the race starts and if your volunteers are ready, let them sign people in. The timing issue is kind of a joke; if they want to draw more competitive athletes they need a more reliable system. The addition of a master’s class might also be an improvement. But overall I’d totally run another one first chance I get!

Photo Credit: Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac GA: Maniacs Do It In the Mud

Well, that’s at least what my souvenir t-shirt says, and after running my first Rugged Maniac race at the Georgia International Horse Park this past weekend, I couldn’t agree more! Since my introduction into the world of OCR in September of 2015 (yes, it hasn’t even been a year yet) and eleven OCRs later, I must say that Rugged Maniac is the most fun race that I have run thus far. What made it so much fun? Well, read on and I shall explain….

Saturday, August 20 6:15 a.m. – Acworth, GA
My Garmin starts buzzing and I realize, holy cow – it’s race day! Being in the far northwest corner of the Atlanta suburbs, I’m used to waking up much earlier on race day to get to the venue. However, Rugged Maniac has some unusual later start times, especially for August in Georgia. Registration isn’t opening until 9 a.m. and we are running the second open wave at 10:15 a.m. I jump in the shower to rinse off (okay, really to shave – ladies will agree, we cannot have prickly legs when there is a chance that random men may touch our legs and ass). We get dressed and geared up, and corral the 13-year-old out of bed and out the door.

Rugged Maniac Atlanta - Pre Race Carb Load and Festival Area Obstacles

Pre-Race Carb Load and Festival area Obstacles
7:20 a.m.
McDonald’s pit stop for hot cakes and sausage for the teenager. His carb load and it must work because he beat me. Yeah, we’ll go with that…

7:40 a.m.
Receive traffic report that lanes may be closed. What? No way! Lanes closed on the highway in Atlanta? We gauge the time calculations on the proposed detour routes and decide to continue on our present heading.

8:32 a.m. – Georgia International Horse Park, Conyers, GA
We pull into the parking at the venue, and park within 20 feet of where we parked for Terrain Race. Upon getting out of the car, we hear the typical grumbling from fellow racers about the distance to walk to and from the parking to the festival area (Soapbox Alert: You are running a race people, with physical exertion. I don’t think an extra half to three-quarter of a mile on either side of a 5K is going to make, break, or kill you. If it is, then you have no idea what you have signed up for. Oh, you could have paid for VIP parking and if you chose not to, then don’t bitch!)

8:50 a.m.
Standing in line at the Registration tent and it is moving surprisingly quick. OW! My ass is now stinging. I turn to see who just smacked me and I am greeted by my fellow GORMR (Georgia Obstacle Racers and Mud Runners) teammate, Wesley. He only stands about a foot and three inches taller than my 5’3” stature. “Hey honey, I just had the first guy of the day touch my ass and we haven’t even gotten into the festival area yet!” It’s going to be a good day!

Registration was quick and easy, they had a 3-ring binder to sign off on for waivers. Multiple people to a page. It is a brilliant idea and other races should take note. Finisher shirts and bibs in hand, we head to find our team tent.

9:05 a.m.
We locate the GORMR tent and set up our chairs and leave the bags to go check out the festival area and the obstacles that are in close proximity. While the festival area isn’t as busy as Spartan, they did have a few different companies with booths set up, some fun activities such as Bull Riding and Knockerball, and most importantly, the beer was already flowing. Pre-race carb load!

We mingle a little bit, take some pictures, play some knockerball, drink some beer, and then decide we should start stretching and head to the starting area.

9:45 a.m.
The elite wave bolts out of the starting corral and the day has officially started.

10:05 a.m.
I scale the 4-foot wall placed at the entrance of the starting corral.

10:07 a.m.
The first elite runner comes sliding down the Accelerator and crosses the finish line. Within the next 8 minutes, 6 more elite male and the first elite female cross the finish line. Damn, I can’t even run a normal 5K in that time, much less one with obstacles. Much appreciation for that group!

10:15 a.m.
The emcee is doing his best to pump us up, “I say Rugged, you say Maniac. RUGGED….MANIAC …. RUGGED….MANIAC! GO!”

And we are off….

The trail turns softly to the left and then heads into the wooded area. We run just over a half mile on this wide trail when we come up to the first obstacle, Barricade. It’s a set of two 4’ walls with a rolling pipe sitting about 6” above the top of the wall. The key to getting over this obstacle seamlessly is not even touching the rolling pipe. Just place the hands on the top of the wall and get over. It is a bit awkward with the pipe in the way, but I am successful nonetheless. As I turn to the right to head down the trail, I see maniacs coming down the hill from the opposite direction completely covered head to toe in mud. I can’t wait to see what is in store for us around the bend!

A few hundred yards down the trail we come up to Obstacle #2, Dragnet. It is a net draped over chlorinated muddy water (a bit of an oxymoron, I know). I run through the obstacle, holding the net above my head and up the mud hill on the opposite side. I turned to my husband and son and say, “did I smell….”. “Yep, it is chlorine”, he responds quickly. “Huh,” I said, interesting concept, and I love it! Somehow, it did feel ‘cleaner’.

We turn to the left around the trees and there is Obstacle #3, Head Scratcher. It is your typical muddy crawl under barbed wire. As usual, there are ladies complaining about the amount and thickness of the mud. (Really?!?! Did you NOT know what you were coming to do? I just don’t get it….) I give a few of them some tips, like keeping your mouth shut while crawling through mud and muddy water so as to eliminate the accidental mud in mouth tragedy. Okay, so the tip was somewhat self-serving too…Back to the obstacle, I alternate from a crawl to a roll depending on the distance of the barbwire crawl. I decide to roll this entire distance. However, the only downfall to rolling is how dizzy you may be once completed. I am staggering my first few steps.

Approximately 50 yards after the Head Scratcher, we start to climb Obstacle #4, Jacobs Ladder. It is a wooden 12’ pyramid ladder. All 3 of us are up and over in no time. Looks like it may be time for a little running now.

The trail curves to the left again and we see a muddy mound leading into the Commando Crawl. Ah, this is where all the watery mud is…more complaining from the ladies in front of me. Me? I just splash right in, careful to avoid the barbed wire. As I near the end, I catch a splash of mud right in the eye. Out damn spot, Out! The last wire at the end is quite low, so I reach into my arsenal of old ‘Twister’ moves and contort myself to escape scratching the back. Up the muddy mound and we are headed down the trail again.

Down a slight hill and turning right, we see Barricade to the left and I hear one young lady say, “Look at them, I didn’t know we were going to get THAT muddy”. It made me chuckle. I turned to look at the 13-year-old and he is sporting a muddy beard. Well, at least I know what he’ll look like once facial hair starts growing.

Rugged Maniac - Tipping Point

Tipping Point
I turn around to watch where I am going and there it is, about 100 yards ahead, Tipping Point. It is a glorious site, trees on either side and the sun beaming down, highlighting the two rows of 1×6 planks set up teeter-totter style. I sprint up to the obstacle and confidently start walking up one of the planks. (I seriously love balance obstacles!) At the pivot/tipping point, my left foot begins to slide and next thing I know, I am chest against the plank and on the ground. My husband applauds while laughing and says that I looked like a rag doll sliding down a pole. Well, that’s a lovely mental picture! I jumped up and decided to run up the teeter-totter this time. Success! Well, until I get about 2 steps from the bottom, my feet slip again and are over my head and the wooden plank flies up and hits me in the low back and I proceed to land directly on the edge of it on the ground. “FUCK that hurt!” I sat there a minute letting the stinging in my ass and arm calm down. Just as the hubby is thinking I am literally trying to kill myself today, I hop up and sprint over the next teeter-totter. There! I showed that obstacle!

Not even 10 feet away from Tipping Point is Ninja Escape, Rugged’s version of Ninja Warrior’s Quintuple Steps. I take my short legs and try to get high enough on the steps to avoid the muddy area in the middle. 1…2…3…..foot slips, body turns, and face plant into a plank on the ground. Yep, I am obviously trying to break something today. I try two more before succumbing to the fact that trying to one-step gracefully across these steps like Neil Craver is not going to happen today, or maybe ever.

Heading for the trail, the shade is a welcome respite from the blazing sun. As the trees open up onto a grassy area we see

Obstacle #8, Beam Me Up. It’s a 15’ ladder wall climb. I race the 13-year-old to the top, let him know to watch his grip as the top is slick with mud already, and then beat him to the bottom.

Rugged Maniac - Napoleon Complex

Napoleon Complex
A little more running up a nice little hill leading us to Napoleon Complex, the 10’ wall with two 2x4s flush mounted acting as ledges for hand holds or foot placement. I’m so short I couldn’t even touch the top of the wall while standing on the bottom ledge. So I try a slight jump to grab it, my feet slip on the narrow, muddy ledge and my knee goes right into the corner of it. ‘Dammit!’ At this point I am praying to the injury gods, pleading with them that I’m sorry for whatever I did to upset them. Uncle! I guess there is a reason as to why my mom nicknamed me ‘Grace’. The boys are up and over the wall and thankfully we have a bit of trail running for me to run out this limp now.

As we emerge from the trees we see Pack Mule, the 25lb Wreck Bag carry. I grab my bag, hoist it over the shoulder and start my run. It was around a grouping of trees and the shortest sandbag carry I’ve ever seen. I’m handing off my bag and see the boys walking up to get one. Damn, I didn’t realize I had left them that far back. I wait patiently as they sprint the carry course and we all go to the next obstacle together.

About 25 yards away is Bang the Gong. We each get in a line and see 3 people slip as they launch from the edge of the water trying to reach the gong. A face plant, a butt first with feet in the air, and a belly flop. I sympathize with their stinging pain. My turn. I launch off of the edge and miss the gong by what I thought was a few inches, but the mini-version of me in a boy’s body, begs to differ, saying that if the gap was any bigger, he’d need a bridge to cross it. The little smart ass.

Within 50 yards we pull a U-turn and come up to Obstacle #12, Claustrophobia. A darkened tunnel crawl. Or in my case, bent over walk. Note to self, don’t try to straighten up, you may be short, but not that short. The plywood ‘ceiling’ hurts when you bang your head. There’s no hope for me.

Directly out of claustrophobia are the Trenches. There are 4 ditches with varying widths, the last being the widest. The volunteers are warning all of us that the takeoff and landing areas are getting quite slick and to watch your footing. So we towards the side as opposed to the middle. I leap over the first, take a few running steps, and leap over the second. I continue doing the same thing and my husband seems shocked that I make it over each one in an athletic fashion, unscathed.

Another hundred yards or so of trail running and as we see the next obstacle up ahead, the mini-me trips over his own size 11.5 feet and goes knee into rock. Yep, now he’s bleeding too and there is no doubt that he is my kid. Cute and Graceful. I try hard not to laugh, but I can’t hold it in. I’m giggling as we run up to Pipe Dream. I really do love the creativity of obstacle names. Up a slight muddy hill and I go head first into a corrugated pipe into, guess what? Yep, more muddy water and barbed wire. And rocks. Lots and lots of little rocks that continued into the corrugated pipe that we had to climb up and out of with the use of a rope. By the time I crawl out of the pipe, both of my knees are bleeding. But hey, I’m sure there will be more water to rinse them off.

Straight out of Pipe Dream we begin the next obstacle, Quad Burners. A series of steep mounds of dirt and mud. I really think that Rugged Maniac likes to play with their backhoes. We are off and running again, but not too far. The next obstacle, Let’s Cargo, is waiting for us. It is an A-frame cargo net climb and decent. The net is a little slack in the middle and not pulled too terribly tight. So I stay close to one of the middle beams for a little more support. I make it to the top and debate doing the flip and crab, but I really am afraid I would kick someone. And with my luck today, well, it just wouldn’t be a good idea. I hit the ground and look up and mini-me is starting his decent. I hold out my hand for a high-five and that little turd goes running past me and doesn’t look back. Hubby makes his way down the net a few minutes later after helping someone over their fear of heights and asks where the kid is….I just pointed and laughed. He left us.

The two of us take off running and go through one last trail area, and we can start to hear the festival area. We come off the trail and turn right and there is the next obstacle, Antigravity. It’s trampolines! OMG! Trampolines! I break into a sprint because my excitement level just went through the roof. It’s the little things. I climb up the stairs and wait for the person in front of me to get up the cargo net on the opposite side. Once she was clear, I jump onto the first, bounce over the middle spacer, and with one jump on the second I bounce up and grab the cargo net about ¾ of the way up the wall. I was so tempted to go do it again, I LOVE trampolines! A flip is definitely happening next year!

Rugged Maniac - The Ringer, starring TretschThe Ringer, starring Tretsch

We climb down the backside and start a little jog and make it to the next obstacle, #18, The Ringer. Just as the name suggests, it’s an upper body obstacle, a ring crossing over water. I pick a lane and grab the ring. I grab the second, the third – holy shit, I may just make it across this thing – the fourth, and I’m in the water. Damn, so close. Up and out of the water. Hubby is jealous that I’m rinsed off.

We are in the home stretch, the last cluster of obstacles. Up next, #19, The Blobstacle. It’s a large inflatable cylinder, for lack of a better term, draped with a cargo net that you must scale up and over. The more people are on it, the harder it is. It would be like trying to climb and inflatable bouncy house full of jumping kids. However, once I got my footing on the cargo net, up and over was quite easy.

Rugged Maniac - The Blobstacle

The Blobstacle
Next up is the Gauntlet. Inflatable oversized punching bags hanging over lanes of floating pads. You must dodge the bags as you run through the obstacle. If you slip or get hit, you get wet. Guess what? I didn’t get hit by the bag, but in all my graceful glory, I slipped and ended up in the water. Really, my balance is so much better than this. I can’t do anything but laugh.

Up another mud mound and down to the Frog Hop. A pool of water with lanes of floating plastic ‘lily pads’. I sprint across these without issue. Finally! I stayed on my feet. There’s only a few obstacles left until the finish line. We still have not seen my mini-me. I guess he’s still alive.

Obstacle #22, Pyromaniac is next up. It’s the classic fire jump and I get to jump it twice. But wait, where are the cameras? There’s always cameras. I leap over the first fire. Damn, that was HOT! And over the second. I think that one was even hotter. It smells really good and I start day dreaming of roasted marshmallows.

Rugged Maniac - Accelerator

The Accelerator
Now we are staring down the combination of the last 3 obstacles, the Warped Wall, Mount Maniac, and Accelerator. I charge up the Warped Wall, grab one of the volunteer’s hands just as my knee and toes careen into the wall, I lose grip, turn and drop and slide down to the bottom. More bruises and cuts and scrapes. Yep. I’m a mess. We make it to the top and then scale the cargo net climb up to the very top of Mount Maniac. There we see the fun 50-foot water slide known as Accelerator. The volunteer is yelling for 6 people at a time, GO. Next 6, GO! We are sitting atop the slide and push off. A little bumpy for my bruised ass, but it is so much fun. We hit the water and get out to run across the finish line. “Took y’all long enough,” we hear from the 13-year-old as we are getting our medals.

With all my bruises and scrapes, people ask me why I find this fun. I reply that it is like being a kid again. Carefree, throwing caution to the wind, conquering fears, and proving to yourself that you can. Rugged Maniac was the most fun course that I have run because the obstacles never stopped and the largest distance between them was a half mile, and that was from the starting line to the first one. Twenty-five obstacles in 3.2 miles. There were clusters and groups, some we’ve seen variations of and others that we have never seen before. Rugged Maniac is inventive with some of their obstacles, utilizes the terrain to their advantage, provides plenty of dirt and mud, but most of all, this race is really geared toward the FUN aspect of this sport. It’s a great race for a beginner or an elite, for an 8-year-old or an 80-year-old. It’s just pure, play in the mud, I’m a kid again fun. I highly recommend running this race if you have the chance (just don’t be as graceful as yours truly).

Photo Credits:  Jennifer Foster, Sean Gluth, Lisa Gregorio Sands, Stacy West Pitts, Robert Tretsch, and Gameface Media

Rugged Maniac Calgary Review

Beer Rugged Maniac

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.

Derek Evanson Ringer

Derek tackles the tricky “Ringer”

Bang the Gong - Rugged Maniac

On the left you will see the hill.

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!

Lineup Rugged Maniac

Winners. I think. Who cares? We had a good time!

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.

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.13667901_1763331150601426_1036597398282017469_o

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.


Lightening the stein

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!


Rugged Maniac – What You Don’t Know, Won’t Hurt You – NJ Review

With many two day events there will usually be several differences from Saturday to Sunday. If you’re not running both days, then you won’t miss or appreciate what you do or don’t have on the day you run. This is a good thing and bad thing depending on your expectations entering the event. Variances can range from parking locations, altered obstacles, even different medals or shirts (if they run out of one from Saturday to Sunday).

Often times if Saturday is shuttle parking, Sunday may be on site with attendance numbers differing by several thousand between the two days. With less people registered on Sunday’s it also means less backups for obstacles. Only drawback is most races go all out in terms of vendors, on course volunteers and even photographers for day 1 of 2. It’s really a pick your poison scenario and I’ll always opt for Sunday.

For event day, it never changes for parking at the always popular OCR venue of Englishtown NJ. Events such as Rugged Maniac, Tough Mudder, Battlefrog, Warrior Dash, Muderella and the upcoming Terrain Race series have chosen this venue for their races. So it’s always fun to see how each brand utilizes the space. One thing is for sure, be ready to get muddy regardless of the name on the swag.

Parking is on site, a short walk from the event area. Englishtown is a motor cross track and paved raceway. The event area for Rugged Maniac was utilized well with several food vendors, different local sponsors giving out product samples and family fun in the center of it all in the form of electronic bull riding, bean bag toss and even inflatable, full-body sumo outfits.

The start was the same as in years past for RM with a short paved jog leading you to the mud hills of the dirt bike track.  Since it had rained on Saturday and early morning Sunday the dirt was soft and the mud was wet. All races I’ve done there have followed the wooded path off the dirt course into a wooded area. It’s always nice and muddy, usually ankle deep and had several waist to shoulder high trenches filled with thick mud and water. I always forget to use my gaiters on this venue and always regret it with the massive amounts of mud.


After coming out of the wooded area that’s outside the race track, you come up on several fun obstacles spaced throughout the course. The hanging inflated bags to run through while avoiding a fall into water, a series of floating crates (frog hop) that many chose to not sprint across and had difficulties balancing. Last year this obstacle was under construction throughout the day with lanes being closed for repair. Through three laps on Sunday all lanes were smooth sailing.


The placement of several obstacles added a bit of a challenge to otherwise easy obstacles making things more interesting. The rings over water, for example, were at the bottom of a slippery, mound of mud that required the use of your hands to navigate. So when you’re ready to grip the rings, you couldn’t get a grip with wet, muddy hands. Balance beams over water was just after a walk through thick mud. The beams were wide enough not to cause issue for the standard OCR athlete, but for the average Joe this posed a challenge. The seesaw traverse was nice and slick making for a fun obstacle to observe people having a great time even while failing to complete it.


Now for the Saturday to Sunday variances I was aware of. People voiced frustration from a slide malfunction on Saturday causing it to be shut down for a period of time with cited safety concerns. The slide is easily one of the event highlights for participants of all athletic abilities. Fortunately I chose the best day for a giant water slide. Throughout the day Sunday the slide was fully functional. One of Rugged Maniac’s newest obstacles, named “Bang the Gong,” was altered from what I had expected and looked forward too. From videos of previous 2016 events a participant would jump from a mini trampoline outwards over water while attempting to hit a hanging frying pan or gong. When I approached the much anticipated obstacle I noticed the trampolines were nowhere to be found. I didn’t hear any complaining from participants on approach. Those that didn’t expect the trampolines had no reason to be disappointed and while I was looking forward to it, the obstacle was still a blast(I circled back in line for multiple jumps) running downhill to jump out into water.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Rugged Maniac still using barbed wire in their crawls as opposed to other open heat targeting races that use ropes or plastic course tape. One mud crawl was on very slick,clay like mud that required an uphill ascent under low barbed wire. This would pose a challenge to any skill level and was an excellent opportunity to help other participants who appreciated a hand. The last obstacle leading to the slide, the warped wall, is always a spectator friendly obstacle providing an encouraging view of teamwork and camaraderie.


Many people complained that they wished more photographers were on course. I personally ended up with 30+ pics for 3 laps of running. While there was many photo opportunities missed on key obstacles such as the warped wall and “Bang the Gong”, it was nice having a photographer on each side of the ring swing, assuring your photo op wasn’t blocked by another participant. I’m certainly a fan of Rugged Maniac for their emphasis on fun, yet challenging obstacles that provide a great day of racing for all skill levels. If you run competitively or just want a good time, you’ll find it at a Rugged Maniac.