The Rugged Maniac Phoenix Race Recap & Review

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Rugged Maniac Phoenix to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

After years of running the Rugged Maniac New England, I finally got to try a second location by running the Rugged Maniac Phoenix this past weekend!

The Rugged Maniac races are so fun that even my non-runner boyfriend loves them. They are currently the only race he actually asks me to sign him up for each year instead of just tolerating me dragging him along ๐Ÿ™ˆ So when I mentioned the race he jumped at the opportunity to join me!!

Pre Race

One great thing about most OCR (including the Rugged Maniac) is that the race goes off in small heats. These heats are usually throughout the day so runners have the chance to choose what time of day suits them best. We arrived the day before the race because I like time to adjust after travel so we could have run in the morning, but my boyfriend LOVES diners, cafes, and large breakfasts. Last time we were in Phoenix we found an AMAZING all gluten-free cafe, Jewel’s Cafe so we opted to go there first and took a later race time of 12:45 PM.

We are not a timely people though, so we ended up late to the race anyway.. But the process to fix our mess-up was painless and didn’t cost us anything (thanks Rugged!!).

On an unrelated note, (I’m not going to pretend like this was the reason we were late because it wasn’t) make sure you listen to their special instructions as to how to get to the race. The address was slightly off, but they gave you special instructions that I originally confidently ignore that corrected the issue.

We ended up with a little time before our new start time (we chose to) and quickly realized we weren’t prepared for a race in the desert (will I ever learn??). We ended up having to buy water because we couldn’t wait for the usual bottle you get at the finish. To us it seemed kind of cruel not to have free water beforehand, but I realize now that not only have I never run a race with that, but literally no one else seemed phased. I think it was just us being out of our element, but a note for other non-locals.

๏ปฟThe Course

The race course was really similar to New England in many ways. Both are held at some kind of motocross park and use part of the park’s course and part of the natural land surrounding it. Both, when on the park’s course, are comprised of a very fine dirt and had twists, turns, rises, and dips. I would say New England’s motocross course portion featured more ups and downs, while Phoenix’s more twists and turns, but they were still pretty similar. The natural land was where they varied, New England’s wooded portion versus Phoenix’s desert. I was happy they did add some more up and down into the desert with man made dirt mounds and by making us run stadiums. (Wouldn’t want it to be TOO flat and easy ๐Ÿ˜œ)

The Obstacles

I love how they always seem to find the perfect mix of challenging, doable, and just for fun obstacles! There are too many to mention them all, but here are some of my favorite/most memorable:

Barzan – This one’s a new, classic arm & grip strength obstacle where you need swing across bars facing different ways & angles. It’s definitely one of the more difficult ones and I was excited to try it. I didn’t make it across, but my boyfriend did. I’m very excited to try again at New England!

Antigravity – It’s got trampolines!! Plus it’s hilarious how many people don’t seem to know how to use a trampoline ๐Ÿ˜‚

Off The Rails – You have to run at and grab a rope with enough forward momentum that you slide on it down a rail to the end where you ring a bell. We’ve had many renditions of this type of slide on a rope obstacle in ninja class. Also someone got the bell stuck up in the metal framework a couple of people before our turn and my boyfriend was able to dislodge it to become the hero and be cheered as he left the water pit!

destroying the bell ๐Ÿ’ช

Full Tilt – A teeter totter hanging ladder! It’s almost like my ninja gym knew I’d need to climb an inclined ladder because we did exactly that the week before in class! In my opinion this one was a good intermediate obstacle that was slightly easier than Barzan. The only weird thing I noticed was this was the only hanging obstacle I’ve ever seen them have without a water pit under it. One of the things I love about the Rugged Maniac is they always have water pits under their hanging obstacles so you can try them without fearing the fall. (I’ve seen someone fall and break their elbow at a different brand OCR.)

Iron Curtain – Didn’t know about this one but I LOVE IT! But telling you about it would ruin it so just trust me it’s a fun one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Feed The Beast – I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. Blowup obstacles aren’t generally my favorite (except the slide!), but I really enjoyed the blowup walls you have to bounce over!

Check out the full list of obstacles here if you want!

Overall๏ปฟ

This race gave me confidence to continue recommending the Rugged Maniac to anyone who will listen because it seems they put on similarly AWESOME races no matter the venue! Rugged Maniac are friendly for all skill levels and make sure everyone has a blast! For Phoenix specifically, I would just recommend you bring water and sunscreen if you aren’t a crazy local who doesn’t seem to notice they’re out in the middle of the desert ๐Ÿ˜‚ Also the parking lot situation gets a little crazy toward the end so I’d recommend an earlier time slot if you need to be out of there ASAP.

๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Why the Rugged Maniac is My Favorite OCR

This weekend will be my second racecation of the year, the Rugged Maniac Phoenix! The Rugged Maniac and I go way back since 2010! I honestly don’t remember how we got signed up for that first one anymore (possibly a birthday gift because it was around her birthday), but it ended up being me and one of my best friends running the race with her family spectating. Since then it has become a tradition, with more and more people actually running it each year!

Don’t get me wrong, I have really enjoyed every OCR I’ve run so far, but the Rugged Maniac is the most well rounded, caters to all skill levels, and makes sure absolutely everyone has a freaking blast!

๏ปฟThey have the Best Mud

The amount of mud and it’s placement is PERFECT at the Rugged Maniac. While there are TONS of opporunities to get dirty (so you’ll end up just as muddy as a Spartan/other mudders), the parts of the course between obstacles aren’t just miles of mud for you to trudge through. This allows you to actually be able to run (unlike at some of the other mudder’s I’ve run)! They also have more water/mud pits, which I am a super fan of!

Mud pit that started off really shallow so I ran right into it
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Mid race mud fights are required!
๏ปฟThey have the Best Obstacles

I really like their variety of obstacles! Not only do they have obstacles for all levels of skill, but the types of obstacles varies more than at other OCR as well. They have the standard climbing and arm strength obstacles, but also include a decent amount of balance ones too. This aligns more with my ninja warrior class and it seems overal ninja warrior. It also allows for more people with different skills to shine during the race! As for difficulty, they still have obstacles that take all that upper body strength and a high level of skill, but others that are easier, and some just completely for how insanely fun they are, like the giant slide! I feel like the mix of obstacles makes everyone able to leave feeling accomplished. I know both friends and I have left other OCR feeling kinda bummed about not being able to do obstacles, but no one I’ve run with has had this issue with the Rugged Maniac.

One of my fav obstacles!
THE SLIIIIIDE ๐Ÿ‘ฝ

Another one of my favorite things about their obstacles are they put water pits under any that you could fall from. With the guarentee of a soft fall, I have tried many obstacles at Rugged Maniacs that I wouldn’t have tried at other OCR for fear of injury.

๏ปฟThey have the Best Course

Again, the Rugged Maniac found the pefect balance. With their courses being actually runnable mud-wise, they seemed to know they could throw in a bit more challenge during the running sections. I LOVE that the course isn’t just pancake flat like most other fun races. Not so much vert that non-runners can’t do it, but enough to make it fun for actual runners too! In New England (not sure about other locations since woods isn’t always a local terrain) they also added in a wooded trail section! It was great to get to run through the woods, but also be on an actual trail (unlike another OCR we ran lol).

Oh also AMAZING and HILARIOUS free race photos!!! โค

Overall the Rugged Maniac is excellent at being challenging, but never discouraging to all levels of runner/obstacle course racer. I love that I have a race that currently has a 100% success rate at sucking my non-running and running friends in year after year. It’s great to run an OCR and feel accomplished, but it’s even better to get to share that with friends and family and participate in all their accomplishments as well!