On Saturday July 30th I got to experience my first Rugged Maniac Obstacle Course Race at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB and it was a lot of fun. It doesn’t hurt that it was in my home town and was less than 20 minutes from my house! So here is a little break down of how the event went down, what I liked, disliked and to give you an idea of what to expect at a Rugged Maniac.
I chose to run the “Elite” heat even though I haven’t been training really hard I do like to be competitive and one thing I really liked about the Rugged Maniac is that the “Elite” heat didn’t start until 9:45am. Most other races the elite/competitive heat is earlier at about 8am. That isn’t really that early but if you want to get up and have breakfast or have to drive any distance then you need to be up about 4:30 or 5am. I like when my wife and daughters can come so if it’s a little later start then it makes life easier. When I arrived on site at about 9 or so there wasn’t hardly any traffic getting into the event. Parking was a breeze and it was a 30 second walk to the event. Registration was a piece of cake and took me less than a few minutes to get my race kit and all set up for the race. This may have been helped lots by the fact that there was a pre-race pickup the day before.
Once I was all ready to go I headed to the start line to meet up with all my OCR friends and wait for the horn to set us loose on the course. We had about half a mile before we hit the first obstacle which were large dirt mounds about 10ft high. After that first half mile without an obstacle we had a more constant stream of obstacles. There were obstacles like:
- Dirt mounds,
- Trenches dug out that you had to jump over,
- 15ft wall ladder of 2×4’s that you had to climb up and down the other side
- Cargo nets
- See saws you had to balance across
- Walls you had to scale
- “Pipe dream” was a black tube you had to crawl down through into a mud pit with barbwire to crawl through, then crawl up another pipe
- “The Ringer” was a set of about 10 or 15 rings you had to swing across over a pond of water. I was able to sing and skip 1 or 2 rings each time as they were fairly close together.
- “The Gauntlet” was a pretty cool obstacle. It was some floating foam pads tied together floating on a pond that you had to balance across but hanging in front of you were sets of big balloons you had to push out of the way at the same time. It was tricky to balance and get around the big balloons!
- A balance beam over water. I think the balance beam was about 3 or 4 inches wide so it wasn’t too narrow or tricky.
- “Bang the Gong” was a really simple but interesting obstacle. Basically it was a metal plate suspended out and above a pond of water that you had to run and jump out to touch before you could move on. This made it very difficult and almost impossible for “vertically challenged” racers. It is my understanding that normally this obstacle has a trampoline but at this event they decided not to because of previous injuries.
- “Claustraphobia” was a trench dug in the ground and covered so you had to almost crawl through. I was able to make it almost the whole way just bent over at the waist.
- “Pack Mule” was a short sandbag carry with a 50lb wreckbag for the men and a 25lb wreckbag for the women.
- “Blobstacle” was a giant balloon with a cargo net around it. You had to climb up and over the awkward balloon using the cargo net.
- There were a few different barb wire crawls mixed in with some of the obstacles.
- “Frog Hop” was a a bunch of square plastic boxes floating on the water that you had to walk across. The secret to these is staying as close to the middle of each box as you can.
- Near the end there were a few sets of fires we had to run through.
- “Antigravity” was a few trampolines to a sort of A-frame you had to climb over.
- “Warped Wall” is not like the warped wall on American Ninja Warrior. It is actually more of a Quarter Pipe at a skate park. Regardless it was still pretty daunting staring up at a big ramp at the finish line. Although it wasn’t slippery yet, it wasn’t too difficult to get up with a good sprint.
- “Mount Maniac” was a cargo net climb from the top of the Warped Wall to the next obstacle
- “Accelorator” was a big slide down into a pool of water right before the finish line. It was actually a lot of fun and a nice way to finish off a race in the heat!
Overall I had a very good experience and a blast running the race. I think the only issue or possibly controversial point about the race would be the “Bang the Gong” obstacle. I understand that not everyone is the same and some people are naturally going to have an advantage in some areas and a disadvantage in others but to me it doesn’t quite seem fair that a person wouldn’t be able to do an obstacle just because of their height. Without the trampolines at that obstacle it made it impossible for some people to pass it successfully. Now for most that probably isn’t an issue, but for some that come out and try to compete it would be annoying.
Other than that I really liked the race, it was a lot of fun and it had some cool obstacles! The Frog Hop, the Gauntlet , and the combination of the Warped Wall, Mount Maniac, and Accelerator were my favourite obstacles! The course was very flat with practically no hills and it was pretty dry, other than the obstacles. It was still challenging but nothing that was a real physical battle to complete like some OCR’s.
I ended up finishing the 3.65 mile race in about 36 minutes according to my Tom Tom Runner and I think I ended up finishing between 5th or 8th place. Unfortunately I was unable to maintain the team 3 Seconds winning streak but I had a blast regardless! I would highly recommend the Rugged Maniac to anyone that likes OCR’s. Whether you like to run competitive or you just like to go through the course with friends and have a good time this is a good race for you.
Photo credit: Tanner Farenik, Rugged Maniac
Tanner Farenik is a husband, father of two girls, avid OCR athlete, blogger, product reviewer and contributor to 3-Seconds.com