We ran the Rugged Maniac obstacle race and lived to tell about it

With as much hype and popularity as there is surrounding the Rugged Maniac obstacle race, a few writers here at The Manual decided to run this exciting event to see what all the fuss was about. On the afternoon of June 20th in Portland, Oregon, we ventured out to Portland International Raceway where the Rugged Maniac crew decided to set up camp for the entire day. After walking the roughly half-mile from the parking lot to the event grounds, what was quickly clear was just how much energy there was pulsating throughout the venue. From groups of people decked out in outrageously planned costumes to those who looked like they’d trained for this event since high school, PIR was crawling with eager participants and those enjoying their hard-earned, post-race beer.

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One of the event’s most impressive features was the sheer amount of available activities afforded to those in attendance. There were bi-hourly pull-up competitions, a pie eating contest, a 30-foot ledge to jump off (though it seemed like 50 feet when you stood up there), and even a stein holding competition. As music — and an emcee’s voice — blared through the venue’s speakers, you couldn’t help but get swept up by the commotion; the fact it was 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky helped a bit in that regard as well.

After puttering around for the better part of two hours, it came time for us to actually run the race. For Portland, a 3.1-mile, 25 obstacle course was expertly plotted out around PIR, anxiously awaiting our feet, hands, and sweat to trudge through its grips. A long straight stretch of gravel then grass greeted us as we began our run, effectively working up a good sweat and showing us just how out of shape we actually were. Once the obstacles started flooding in — first we jumped over a flaming pile of wood, then hopped over five foot wide valleys — the breathing turned from a slight pant, to just short of full-on gasps.

We crawled under barbed wire, swam through muddy water, balanced on slippery beams, and swung like monkeys across gullies. To say the very least, once the race ended the three of us were in dire need of some post-race refreshment (i.e. beer) and a post-race shower. Researching and writing about this incredible event is one thing, but actually running it is an entirely different experience that words just can’t do justice.


When Rugged Maniac COO Rob Dickens began formulating the idea for his now-famous obstacle race, he started with the intention of turning professional couch surfers into weekend warriors. After spending an entire day experiencing this fantastic event first-hand it became abundantly clear Dickens developed something special that doesn’t appear to fade away anytime soon. We recommend looking up when your city hosts its next Rugged Maniac event, you won’t want to miss it.