Having run more than 80 races since my very first 5K back in October of 2011, it now seems a rare occasion when I am presented with the opportunity to experience a new, unique race which I’ve yet to have toed the starting line. Although I am an avid fan of the many races which I now run on a regular basis, it was for this exact reason that I was particularly excited for Rugged Maniac to come to town. Since having heard rave reviews about this fun-filled, innovative OCR, I had yet to experience it firsthand.
Set at one of my favorite race venues, Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City, FL, I arrived to the event eager to see if the hype over this race was a true foreshadowing of the experience that racers are provided. I’d done my research, even watched the Shark Tank episode which had earned Rugged Maniac a new investor, and I anticipated a race which was centered around fun, while also providing just enough challenge to make for a great race for racers of all abilities.
Despite experiencing a congested registration area, a lack of water stops along the race course (with temps in the high 80s and the 1st wave starting at a later-than-usual 10am, several water stops should have been present), and an issue with final chip timing, I must say that the items that truly matter most (a quality race experience, solid obstacles, and well laid out course), were on point.
I ran with the second wave of the day at 10:15am, and as I dialed in my pace for a competitive race experience, I immediately took note of the obstacle-heavy emphasis of the event. With an impressive 25 obstacles spread throughout the 3.3 mile course, racers continually encountered the varying excitement of new challenges, perfect for the casual OCR enthusiast. Obstacles were sturdy, built large enough to sustain large numbers of racers, and a whole lot of fun. From teeter-totter style planks, to a gauntlet with frog-hop pads and large swinging bags which threatened to topple unsteady racers into the water, and an awesome series of trampolines requiring racers to bound forward onto padded cargo nets (so much fun!), all made for a race which was entertaining, innovative, and challenging enough for the competitive racer, while not too indimitating for the nonchalant weekend warrior.
The highlight of my own race experience is, hands-down, conquering The Ringer, a series of swinging rings above a pool of water. In the past I’ve struggled with this obstacle when encountered at other races, as my momentum and/or grip strength has failed me. Upon approaching this obstacle, I was worried that I may find myself yet again crashing prematurely into the water below. Ring by ring I swung, focused on maintaining momentum and a firm grip, and when I landed smoothly on the opposite platform, I celebrated inwardly, thrilled at my accomplishment.
The post-race atmosphere was bustling with excitement. A mainstage area kept energetic music flowing, while racers were able to enjoy their free beer, take a chance on the mechanical bull, go head-to-head against a fellow competitor in a pugle-stick battle, and enjoy a fantastic view overlooking many of the larger obstacles on the course. Kids were provided a shaded bounce-house to enjoy as many had arrived that day ready to race and then spend the remainder of the day celebrating their accomplishment with fellow runners.
Rugged Maniac truly lived up to my expectations, and I have to say that I was impressed by the course and obstacles. Adding more water stops, a greater variety of merchandise, a kids race, and fine-tuning the registration and timing snafus could really take this race to the next level. Thanks for a great event Rugged Maniac, this is one race I know I’d happliy come back to run time and time again!
The folks of Rugged Maniac were kind enough to provide me with an entry to their race. All opinions stated in this review are my own. I truly appreciate their generosity! A special thank you goes out to Kaitlyn, it was a pleasure speaking with you and I hope we are able to connect down the road!