Race Recap: 2016 Rugged Maniac Portland

Saturday's Rugged Maniac at Portland International Raceway was the most fun I've had at an event so far this year. With 25 obstacles scattered over 3 miles, this OCR (Obstacle Course Race) was a blast! While some of the obstacles were challenging, all of them were do-able and some were just plain fun! While there was definitely mud involved, I appreciated the fact that the focus was less about mud and more about the obstacles. I was also pleased that there had been chlorine added to the pools of water to help keep participants safe from the variety of nasty things that could have been lurking in the water. There were many new (to me) obstacles at this event, which made the race seem to fly by in no time at all!

Rugged Maniac 2016 participants at the start and finish area.

Waves started every 15 minutes throughout the day to spread out the crowds. And there were definitely crowds! This event appeared to have a great turnout. Although our wave was a large group, it didn’t take long to thin out and we never had to wait too long for an obstacle. Although, at many of the obstacles I appreciated a short wait so that I could watch how others navigated that challenge before I took it on. While there were the usual OCR walls, cargo nets, and mud pits to navigate; many of the obstacles were original to Rugged Maniac or had an interesting original twist.

The Blobstacle – photo from ruggedmaniac.com

There was the Blobstacle, which was like a giant inflated balloon covered by a cargo net. While not difficult to tackle, it did bring a new twist to the cargo net, as the balloon wobbled about and you couldn’t get great traction at times due to wet feet.

The Gauntlet – photo from ruggedmaniac.com

The Gauntlet was a fun obstacle where participants had to balance on floating mats while avoiding swinging bags. The key to this one was to stay in the center of the floating mats at all times.

We climbed, crawled, jumped, bounced on trampolines, ran, descended, carried sandbags, balanced, and swung through the many obstacles. My favorite two obstacles were The Ringer and The Warped Wall. The Ringer required swinging like a monkey from ring to ring across a pool of water. This was one of my favorites this year because I improved significantly on this challenge. I made it halfway across, which for me was a big deal. Next year, I’m making it all the way!  The Warped Wall was just like you see on American Ninja Warrior, except it wasn’t quite as tall. I had never had the opportunity to attempt a warped wall before so I was both excited and really nervous. When my team and I arrived at the wall, we took some time to watch other participants and contemplate our approach. While I watched person after person attempt the wall, I noticed the amazing volunteers on this obstacle. The guys here were working hard and doing an awesome job. Anyone that needed assistance would get a hand up from the guys at the top that were ready and waiting. They were working together like a well-oiled machine and pulled people of all shapes, sizes, and ability levels up as needed. I couldn’t help but think how sore they were going to be the next day. When it was my turn, I did my best to ignore my fear and just started running. It was easier than I expected to keep my momentum on the way up. As I cruised up the wall, I was suddenly hoisted up by each arm and was on top before I knew it. I can honestly say, I don’t know how high I was, I don’t even know how the volunteers managed to grab my arms, but they did an amazing job of both grabbing me at the same time and making sure I was successful at my first Warped Wall attempt. Once I was at the top, I realized how intense that experience was for me, as my legs suddenly felt like jello and I almost dropped to my knees. That was a crazy feeling. I can’t wait to try it again in the future – without assistance! We wrapped up the race with a trip down a giant 50 foot slide into a pool of water, a cargo net climb, and a Blobstacle traverse. We were a little muddy and completely drenched, but smiling from ear to ear.

After we finished, we were given our finisher medals and we grabbed water and snacks. Then we watched a pull-up contest, which was quite impressive. But, the highlight was a 5 year old boy shimmying up the pole to bust out his pull-ups. There were plenty of other activities available from corn hole to stunt diving to enjoying food and drink from the many vendors and much more. It was quite the after party that looked as though it would last for some time.

We eventually headed out to our “team Sprinter van” to get cleaned up a bit. Since I was the lone female on the team and we were in the middle of the parking lot of PIR, I was happy to have my Undress – which I reviewed several months ago. This dress allows me to change clothes in public without being indecent. It is truly the best invention ever for doing OCRs, because you always need to get out of wet, muddy clothes. Once we were all semi-clean and in dry clothes we headed out for our traditional post-race lunch. We always like to try to find a new place where we recount the adventures of the day and plan for new ones. If you haven’t put Rugged Maniac on your “must-do” list, add it now! I look forward to seeing you out there next year.

My team and I – successful finishers of Rugged Maniac 2016


About Annette Vaughan (493 Articles)
Annette Vaughan is a runner and personal trainer in Canby, Oregon. She began running at the age of 30 and became hooked after her first race (even though she is a self-proclaimed slow runner.) She enjoys small local races from 5Ks to half-marathons, with a 30K on the books as her longest run ever. She has also become a huge fan of obstacle course races and just can't get enough of them. Annette is a certified personal trainer, who believes in promoting movement since our bodies were designed to move. The more we move, the better we move and function in everyday life.
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