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.

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Fabian Lindner

Originally from Germany where he served in the Special Forces, Fabian moved to California in 2014 and now works in IT Security. What a nerd.

He can be found at endurance events like the Spartan Race HH12HR, WTM, GORUCK, SEALFIT and other starting lines on the West Coast.

A blog about his journey is at
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