Whether you run obstacle competition courses or enjoy watching them on TV, I think we can agree that we're obsessed with this method of fitness that our friends and co-workers tell us about. We found out more about Rugged Maniac, the health benefits and how they compare and differ from other courses that are offered in this space.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What is Rugged Maniac, how long has it been around and how many races take place a year?
ROB DICKENS: Rugged Maniac was founded in 2010 with its first event in October of that year in MA. We now produce 30 events across the US and Canada each year.
AM: What brought you to Rugged Maniac and what is your role there?
RD: Rugged Maniac was founded by my business partner, Brad Scudder (CEO), and I (COO, CMO). We met in law school and we both worked as attorneys for a few years before embarking on this adventure. Brad was doing insurance defense litigation at a small firm in MA, while I was at a large international firm on Wall Street doing finance. We both grew up in rural areas and had spent much of our childhoods playing outside and participating in outdoors sports (skiing for Brad and surfing for me - I'm from coastal NC), so sitting at a desk all day didn't quite feel right. We both wanted to do something more adventurous.
I got an email from Brad one day stating that he was leaving the practice of law to organize an obstacle course race in his hometown in rural MA. I was intrigued and after some discussion I also left law to found Rugged Maniac. I'm the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Marketing Officer, which means I manage a large part of the company's operations while also overseeing all advertising, design, and PR.
AM: What are the similarities/differences of Rugged Maniac versus other obstacle competition companies?
RD: Rugged Maniac is now the third largest OCR in the country behind Tough Mudder and Spartan Race. Our goal is to get everyone off their couches and outdoors having FUN with friends while being active. Our courses are undoubtedly challenging, but we're not going to shock you with electricity, make you jump in ice water, or punish you for not being able to complete an obstacle. It's not about being bigger, badder, and faster than those around you. It's about pushing your own limits while helping your friends (and strangers!) over the obstacles. This philosophy has made us the go-to event for people of all fitness levels, not just hardcore athletes. We also have more women participants than any other OCR. In fact, women make up 55% of our participants!
Speaking of obstacles, we pack more into our 3-mile course (25) than Spartan Race's 5k (20) and Tough Mudder's normal 12-mile course (20). We also put a lot of emphasis on the entertainment in our festival. We have a DJ on the main stage, a comedic emcee entertaining the crowd all day, a mechanical bull, pie-eating contests, dance parties, and plenty of craft beer. You simply don't see as big of a party at any other OCR.
As for Warrior Dash, they also focus more on the fun aspect of obstacle course racing, but they provide only 10-12 minor obstacles in a 3-mile course, which just doesn't measure up to what other OCRs offer.
AM: What are the health benefits to training for Rugged Maniac and how long is training for a race of this nature?
RD: Rugged Maniac is a 5k (3-mile) off-road run with 25 obstacles, each of which poses a different physical challenge. This means that your training has to include not only running, but climbing, crawling, jumping, and balancing - more of a total body workout than when preparing for a normal 5k or marathon. How long you have to train depends on (1) your race goal and (2) your current fitness level.
If your goal is to win the race (only about 5% of runners have this as a goal), you'll need to be able to run a normal 5k in about 16 minutes AND have the upper body strength necessary to complete The Ringer, Pull Your Weight, and The Warped Wall (see www.rugedmaniac.com/obstacles). However, the vast majority of our maniacs aren't "in it to win it." They come with a group of friends in order to have a ton of fun while challenging themselves physically. It's not about beating everyone else; it's about camaraderie and fun.
So if you fall into this category, you'll likely just want to be able to complete all the obstacles. For most people, this means working on your upper body strength and balance (The Gauntlet, Frog Hop, and Tipping Point). Again, how long it will take to reach that point will depend on your current abilities.
AM: How can training for this race be adopted throughout a person's life?
RD: There are no shortcuts to getting in shape, unfortunately. It doesn't matter what you're training for, you simply have to make exercising part of your daily (or weekly) routine - no excuses. If you want to be in great shape, you need to work out at least three times a week, with the bulk of that time being spent on cardiovascular activities with some strength training mixed in. You don't need a gym membership; you can get in perfect shape by running and doing cody-weight exercises, like push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, etc.
AM: Are Rugged Maniac courses the same and what's it like creating them?
RD: The obstacles at each Rugged Maniac event are largely the same nationwide (as are the obstacles for every other OCR brand). Think of an OCR event as a traveling circus, of sorts. Everything is packed up and shipped to the next location following each event. Variety comes from the differences in the venues; some are completely flat, some are on mountain slopes, some are in the desert, some are next to a lake. So the runner experience from event to event can vary quite a bit. Of course, we add a few new obstacles to our courses each year to keep things interesting (while retiring some older designs).
AM: What other events are produced?
RD: Rugged Races, the parent company of Rugged Maniac, also owns and produces The Tour of the Battenkill cycling event in upstate New York; the Costume Dash 5k (Halloween costume run) in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco; and 16 other 5ks/marathons/half marathons throughout New England under the Loco Races name.
AM: What should we keep an eye out for within Rugged Races 2018?
RD: We plan to continue acquiring a variety of sports properties throughout 2018 as we grow into one of the country's largest event producers. We have some exciting opportunities in front of us so stay tuned for more announcements!