I am a lover of all things OCR (obstacle course races), but not having participated in one since last fall, I got really nervous as Rugged Maniac Portland approached. I’m not completely sure why I got so nervous, because every time I’ve done this event it has been so much fun, but the nerves were definitely there. On race day, I gathered my gear and loaded up with 2 of my fellow OCR enthusiasts and we headed to PIR. By the time we parked, made the trek to check in, picked up our bibs and shirts, trekked back to the vehicle to drop things off, headed back to the race area, and used the port-a-potties it was time to head to the starting chute. It was probably good that I didn’t have a lot of lag time. That didn’t allow me time to think about my nervousness too much.
We hopped the wall to join the rest of the 11:30 A.M. start wave and waited to be sent off. At 11:30 we were released to begin our adventure. We ran for awhile before we made it to the first obstacle which allowed for the large group to thin out a bit. I was trying to keep up with my speedster teammates, which made me forget all about being nervous and instead had me thinking about how I really need to work on my running speed. Soon we began to encounter various obstacles and the fun began. The nervousness I felt earlier was definitely a thing of the past. I started to have fun!
We were clean and dry until we hit the obstacle called Bang the Gong. That required jumping up to hit a target then landing in a pool of water. It actually felt pretty refreshing. Soon after we were crawling through mud under barbed wire and through tunnels. But that was nothing compared to the new obstacle called Fenced In. If any part of you was still clean and dry, that disappeared. At this point we had to crawl through a muddy pool of water on our backs while holding on to a fence above us – which allowed you to keep your face above the water. Fenced In did cause a fair amount of backup as it took awhile for people to get through and only a few people could go at once. While it was a great obstacle, I hope they make it wider or have more than one of them in the future to prevent the backup.
Now that we were covered in mud, The Ringer was strategically placed to add challenge to the already challenging ring crossing. I had failed at this obstacle last year and was looking forward to an improved showing this year. Sadly, the wet, muddy rings got the best of me. I was pretty bummed about that. But, I’ve already rethought my strategy for next year on this one.
We made our way through a variety of other obstacles and added more layers of mud to our bodies. I was amused by how many times I heard someone telling someone else that they were “almost there” no matter where we were along the course. Despite that being somewhat funny at times, I do appreciate how OCR events always bring out the best in others. I always hear positive, encouraging words and see people helping others. It’s an environment unlike any other. I know that at anytime I could ask for help if needed and I am always happy to stop and help someone, as well.
As we got within sight of the finish area, the Warped Wall loomed in front of us. While it did make me a little nervous, it is also a really fun obstacle. And, there are always scores of people at the top waiting to help another person get over the wall. It’s actually very cool to watch. When it was my turn, I ran hard and made my way up the wall. When I reached my arms up as I got near the top, my arms were grabbed by two strangers who pulled me the rest of the way up and over. I heard one of them encouraging me with, “We’ve got you. We’ve got you all day.” And then I was up and climbing the cargo net even higher to get to the top of The Accelerator – a huge slide down into a large pool of water. That slide was steep! I’ll admit, I got a little freaked out looking down from the top and had to grab the arm of my friend before we blasted down that crazy-fast slide together. There were a couple of inflatable obstacles and then we were at the finish line collecting our medals. When I got to the end it seemed like it had passed so quickly. It was so much fun, I really don’t know why I was so nervous beforehand. Now that I’ve got one OCR completed this year, I’m ready for more! And, I really can’t wait for next year.
If you are intrigued by OCRs but haven’t tried one yet, I highly recommend this as a first-timer event. You will have fun, be challenged (without penalties if you can’t complete an obstacle), and I’m pretty sure you’ll be hooked afterwards. Thank you Rugged Maniac for always changing it up every year, for improving existing obstacles and creating new ones, and for an awesome atmosphere. I’ll be back!