Rugged Maniac Calgary 2017

Rugged Maniac Calgary 2017 Swing

Last year I called Rugged Maniac a gateway drug into the world of OCR. This year, the addiction for OCR has again seriously taken hold and I found myself heading up to Calgary for my next fix.

Was Rugged Maniac 2017 a success? Read on to find out. 


Rugged Maniac Is In Its Own Category

It’s a combination that works well for other races in its area of the market. This isn’t a Spartan or a Savage Race. Rugged is Rugged.  It has a distinct place and identity. It’s a lot of… well… just a lot of fun.  Expect a great atmosphere with a great view of the final obstacles.

At Rugged Maniac you can expect onstage antics like the Stein holding competition, the pie eating competition, or the pull up contest to be just as much of an attraction as the race event itself. 


Rugged Maniac Festival Area

Having a festival area program is something some races seem disinterested in. My wife is yet to be bitten by the OCR bug, but when she attends races with me, she lets me know that there is nothing worse than a dull spectator area with nothing going on apart from an obscure view of the race.

If I were visiting as a spectator, I would want something to do. I could be there for hours in the sun or rain. I’d want somewhere to sit and things to occupy my kids. Maybe some games I can get involved in. Some good music. Maybe a little shade. Good food options.

I don’t want to spend half an hour walking to the venue or taking a school bus, then to pay $15 entry to the venue, only to find it is a muddy, inhospitable mess underfoot, with nothing but a row of porta potties and a bad view of the obstacles. So many race events drop the ball in this regard. However, Rugged Maniac writes the playbook on good times for spectators. Parking was excellent. Everything worked. 

Rugged Start

I ran my little heart out on this race. It’s a fierce race if you want it to be. I ran hard, getting chased down by Kody O’Brien and one other dude whose name I forget. It destroyed me, but that’s just my competitive silliness kicking in.

If you want it to be, it can be a gentler introduction to the OCR world if this is your first event. This isn’t meant to be a statement of suffering, but a chance to enjoy a challenge and experience a bit of fun.

The agenda at Rugged Maniac is for inclusion. Obstacles are all mostly easy to complete with a couple of exceptions and participants of all levels should be able to make it through without much difficulty.


About the 5k

The distance is 5k and the surface is mainly flattened grassy pasture. Despite the somewhat toned-down intensity of the obstacles, it’s a snappy race if you push yourself. The quad burners were incredibly steep: four mounds of loose dirt, increasing in height and depth really took a toll on my pace.

The rings were tough for me. I lost momentum and had to find a way to reach over beyond my normal capacity. Water balance obstacles are also surprisingly hard. Both Gauntlet and Frog Hop both created a significant energy sap as I tried to run through them. It looks easy, but it’s not. Gong

MUD + Obstacles

One impression I have of the course is of multiple level changes. Most of the obstacles took runners from the upright to prone position breaking up the ability to form a working pace.

Another simple but effective signature of Rugged Maniac is to create a pile of excavated dirt after many of the obstacles. For those who want to run this race competitively, throwing these loose mounds in creates a constant rolling assault on the cardiovascular system. As the day wears on, mud begins to make these even more chaotic and interesting for all.  

Rugged Maniac is largely devoid of heavy carries. There was an easy sandbag carry near the end of the course, but it wasn’t punishing or brutal. I should mention that for those who are pyromaniacs, you get to jump over THREE fire jumps at Rugged! This makes you feel like a legend.

Anti-Gravity (a trampoline and rope net jump) simply makes you feel like a kid again.


The final obstacle in the Rugged Maniac race is Mount Maniac and the Accelerator combo. A warped wall, a rope net climb, a ladder climb resulting in a giant slip and slide into a pool of water in front of a cheering crowd. 



NOTE:  Rugged Maniac had a few problems with timing last year. This year someone took the names and times of the winners for the race, which was much simpler. I don’t think there were any issues at all with the manual recording system!



So  was Rugged Maniac 2017 a success?

YES. In summary, what Rugged brings to the table is balance. Fun for spectators and a great race for participants. I’m gonna just come out and say it. Rugged Maniac is one of my favourite events in the western Canadian OCR calendar. It’s about the atmosphere and the execution. There’s a classy, well-designed polish to the event. People are happy at the race. There are no complaints about course design or whether this obstacle or that obstacle was present or not.  It’s a race with a beaming, colorful identity, great quality control, excellent staff and staging, and an ability to not take itself too seriously. Come on back to Canada next year!

Edit: I was sad to hear that later in the day someone disobeyed one very important rule not to wear football or soccer cleats on the course and as a result damaged the accelerator – putting it out of commission. Read the rules people!

All Photos Credit of Gamefacemedia and Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac VA – Spring 2016

Rugged Maniac has made a seasonal home at the Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg, VA in early May starting at least as early as 2012 and expanded to have a second race at the same location in October in 2014.   In 2016, at least in my humble opinion, Rugged Maniac continues to improve and provide a really fun experience to newbies and experienced runners alike.

This time around, waves started at a nice casual 10 a.m. start time, unless you decided to run as a super fancy elite, providing a little extra sleeping in time.  I opted for the 10 a.m. wave this time around to catch the early experience of a fresh course.  This was a good choice as, at least early in the day, Rugged Maniac had their parking game on point for 2016 (bring your $10 for parking).  Unlike previous years, there was no line down the street to access the parking area so I was quickly parked, grabbed my bag, and met up with my race partners to hop through a fairly speedy check-in.  After everybody was registered, stretched, and ready to go we hopped the starting line wall ready to go for the 10:15 a.m. wave.  Rugged gave a short starting line speech to pump up the group and the wave was off.

Rugged followed a fairly similar trail to last year’s May event.  However, the constant rain of the week prior definitely changed the course experience.  In prior years the first obstacle out the gate has been a soupy mud pit known as Shoe Catcher that has the suction power a vacuum would be envious of that breaks the crowd up into smaller groups to continue on.  This year, that changed.  Shoe Catcher now consisted of an ankle deep mud puddle with a slightly slick below-water surface that lacked its typical suctioning power.  This would become somewhat of a theme of the race with several water-logged sections that could slow one down with a cautionary tale of uneven footing.

The early wave breakup occurred instead with the second obstacle, a big mud hill that had people slipping around trying to get over.  My small group got up and over and continued our jog through the 5k.


From here it would get a little boring to go over all the obstacles.  Many are standard OCR fare, e.g., a few different types of walls, barb wire crawls (3 in total), cargo nets, balance beam, and a fire jump.  But with a total of 28 obstacles on course, Rugged Maniac definitely has a few shining stars: 

  • The Blobstacle: A giant inflatable structure that had a cargo net draped over it.  The cargo net was basically a second skin on this day which made for a little tougher purchase to get the shoes to grip in.
  • The Gauntlet 2.0: Rugged’s decision to change the footing from a solid structure to a floating rubber-ish pad was a refreshing change.  A nice run across to keep footing without sinking into the water lets you run through the air-filled hanging bags to see if you can successfully cross without going down in the water.
  • Bang the Gong: I’m all for any and every obstacle I have seen so far that includes trampolines.  This was absolutely no different.  Talking to friends that ran later in the day, it did get a little more difficult as the trampolines got muddier from the wet course.  The one criticism on this obstacle was the landing pool was fairly shallow.  While it may involve more of a swim a little deeper pool would probably be better to prevent potential for injury.
  • Antigravity: More trampolines!  If you do not enjoy an obstacle where you get to jump from one trampoline to another and then perform your best Spiderman impersonation to catch the cargo net wall, I don’t understand you as a person.
  • Warped Wall/Mount Maniac/Accelerator: A quarter pipe is always fun to do and watch (for both the personal and teamwork successes and the amusing slide back down from missing).  Adding in a short cargo climb to a higher purchase afterward and a slide down to the finish line is just a cherry on top.  Remember though, always stop to encourage and help your fellow racers, everybody appreciates it.


Once you get past that, the course is complete and you get your medal, swag, and free Harpoon brewery beer.  This year the post-race collection included a bottle of water, bananas, orange slices, and some Dude Wipes to cleanse your muddy hands before you dug in.  The 2016 medal is a sharp addition and the t-shirt picked up at registration is super soft and comfy as usual.  After the race there is a decent size festival area that included regular contests throughout the day (stein hoisting, pie eating, and pull-ups), room to sit down and socialize with fellow racers over food and/or beer, inflatable bouncy house structures for the kids, and the generally necessary rinsing and changing areas.


Register early on in the process and it’s a fairly inexpensive race experience that will provide plenty of fun.  Hint:  Right now the Virginia fall race in October is $49 plus tax without the additional processing fees that plague the rest of the OCR world.  Shameless plug—ORM has a discount code posted for a better deal!  Sign up and have some fun.