by Montana Ross (Pretty Lil Mudder)
Rugged Maniac was a last minute sign up for me this year. I hadn’t really planned on doing it, but seeing how many MudRunFun members were going gave me a case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and two weeks ago I signed up to run my third Rugged Maniac since I started doing OCR’s. In fact, Rugged Maniac in 2014 is where I first became a member of MudRunFun, so this is kind of a sentimental race for me.
Out of all the 5k OCR’s they have here in Florida, Rugged Maniac should definitely be on your list. They have the most obstacles per mile of any of the 5k OCR’s I’ve done; most of their obstacles are fun and they definitely have a great festival area, complete with food trucks, stein hoisting and pie eating competitions and even a mechanical bull! This is a place where the party continues long after the race has been run.
The first wave for non-competitive racers started at 10:00- many MRFers were in that wave as we jumped the wall at the start line and got ready to have a good time on course. After a short start line speech, we were on our way to the first set of obstacles, the Barricades and Jacob’s Ladder. This year they added a tube on top of the Barricades which made it a bit more challenging- the tube rolled so it wasn’t as steady as regular wood walls when attempting to climb over. Shoe Catcher is always fun- last year I actually almost lost a shoe in this one, but this year made it unscathed, although I did see some shoes lying in the mud from other less lucky participants. After Beam Me Up (ladder wall) and Head Scratcher (barbed wire) in very goopy black mud, we hit the Trenches and Speed Trap to round out mile 1. As you can tell, there are plenty of obstacles to make this race entertaining.
Blobstacle was the next part of the course we came to- a giant blow up bag with netting across it that we had to climb over. There were a few MRF members volunteering at this obstacle, so we got some good footage here.
At Claustrophobia, we stopped for some MRF photos before crawling through the pitch black tunnels. Someone ahead of me yelled, “Watch out for the snake!” I’m really glad he was joking. Pack Mule was a bit different this year as well- instead of just being a straight wreck bag carry, they had short beams racers had to duck under or cross over throughout the path. Tipping Point and Ninja Escape were right after one another and then we came to Antigravity, one of my favorites from last year. This year it was shorter, but no less fun.
Napolean Complex started off mile 3, followed by Rugged’s version of the balance beam, Pipe Dream. Let’s Cargo was a bit slow moving at the top and those of us halfway up the net had to talk several people over the top who were afraid of heights. This one didn’t seem as high as other cargo nets to me, but the good thing about OCR events is the people who are always there to encourage and help others over obstacles they aren’t sure they can complete. Frog Hop was one I wasn’t really looking forward to as last year I busted my shin jumping from one of the pads, but this time we strategically crawled across instead of trying to remain on our feet. Then it was through the lake with a net over the top for Dragnet; it was actually pretty refreshing since it was so hot outside. This year’s fire jump, Pyromaniac was a good one- there were three jumps in a row and it was higher than I remember it from last year. Next was the Gauntlet and Bang the Gong. At some of the obstacles Rugged had small video cameras with notices that they were recording footage for videos so I’m curious to see if they do something similar to what Battlefrog did for their championship race last December. Bang the Gong was one such obstacle- it required racers to jump off a trampoline and hit a gong hanging above, landing in a water pit.
Finally we were almost to the finish, having only the triple obstacle the Warped Wall/Mount Maniac/Particle Accelerator and the hanging rings to complete. After completing those obstacles and crossing the finish line, we made our way over to the tents to hang out with other MudRunFun members for the remainder of the day. Unfortunately I personally didn’t get to spend much time there as I had to work later, but it was a fun day according to the pictures I saw on the Facebook page! Apparently, we have some pie eating champions in the group 🙂
Rugged Maniac always puts on a solid event. They have fun obstacles and a lot of variety in the festival area, which is great to spend all day Saturday hanging out and having fun. One thing I heard a lot was that the check in procedure was still disorganized, which is something I had noticed when I did my very first Rugged Maniac in 2014. They didn’t really have organized lines when we were picking up our bibs; rather, participants were just all milling around the tents in big groups and I heard several people complaining about line cutting. Some other small complaints I heard were that the waves were rather big; one MRF member stated that there were so many people in their wave that they couldn’t even climb the wall to enter the starting corral before they let some of the front runners go to make more room.
Other than that, I heard mostly positive things coming from many who participated that day. It’s a great event to take a first timer to, as the obstacles aren’t too crazy for those who may not be sure they enjoy mud runs yet. Rugged also has lots of contests and fun events going on for non-participants so everyone has something they can enjoy there. There seemed to be a good variety of food, and the beer was fairly good this year with several options to choose from. I noticed more photographers on course than last year as well, so hopefully everyone who raced got some good pictures! This is definitely an event not to miss- although next year I won’t wait until the last minute to get tickets 😉