This past weekend, I ran my fourth consecutive year at Rugged Maniac in Central Florida. Originally I was going to take a break from this year in order to try new races, but an opportunity popped up to do it again, and I couldn’t say no.
So here’s why Rugged Maniac is and always will be one of my favorite obstacle race series.
First off, Rugged Maniac is always great at bringing out sweet obstacles. From their classics like the Barracades or Frog Leap to the newer additions like Bang the Gong and the newest like Guillotine and Swing Shot, they always have a great set of obstacles to take on. The best part of these obstacles is that they are all perfectly beatable, albeit challenging. This year, I was able to grab the top of the Warped Wall on my own, a huge improvement from last year. I still had help getting over the wall, but still, a big jump from previous years. Although their famous fire jumps weren’t a part of the course this year (brush fires in Florida got burn bans all over), it was still a great course.
Second it’s never the same course. Although they have their signature obstacles like any other course, Rugged Maniac has a knack for creating a new course every time. That’s hugely important since they are always at the same location down here in Florida. They tend to have one of the highest return rates of all the big race companies out there, and I believe part of that reason is the ability to give runners a new course every year, even with obstacles that always repeat themselves. Plus, I feel like they had more new obstacles on the course this year, more than other races I’ve done more than once. That also helps them keep an edge up on keeping their courses fresh.
Next, Rugged Maniac is, I feel, the best race to take on for first-time OCR runners. While this was my fourth race with Rugged Maniac, my friends who joined me were running their first race ever. All three of them managed to beat all but one obstacle (the Ringer, while beatable, was right at the end and proved victorious). Despite that, they had a blast on the course. And the after party and free beer were a nice cherry on top of an epically fun day.
Speaking of the after party, I’ve always thought that Rugged Maniac knows how to do this part right. They have a great host and DJ who they have at their events who know how to keep everyone dancing and laughing. They get many vendors out to meet people and offer up some great products (still looking forward to trying my caffeinated soap!). And they throw in some other fun things like cornhole, a mechanical bull, on-stage contests for pie-eating, pull-ups, and stein-holding. Seriously, it’s hard to not find something cool while you’re in the festival area.
I’ve been lucky enough to get into this sport, which has given me a great deal of personal fulfillment. But no matter what goals I shoot for or how much I push myself, I can always count on Rugged Maniac to offer up an awesome time both on and off the course. And now that they’ve added an Elite wave, I’m looking forward to a brand new challenge…another From Casual to Competitor series in the works? I guess we’ll see.
Check out Rugged Maniac and find out when they’re coming to your area.