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Race popular with competitors of all ages, shapes, sizes



COURTESY: RUGGED MANIAC OBSTACLE RACE - The Rugged Maniac 'Warped Wall' is tough to negotiate.Whether climbing “The Warped Wall” or swinging on “The Ringer,” or doing several other obstacles that make up the Rugged Maniac race, two things will surely happen:

Racers will get wet and dirty.

Just plan on it.

“The fewer clothes you wear, the better,” says Rob Dickens, chief operating officer of the nationwide series of 28 Rugged Maniac races. “And you want to make sure your shoes are lighter weight.”

The Rugged Maniac, increasing in popularity since Mark Cuban’s nearly $2 million injection of cash, after the series’ appearance on “Shark Tank,” takes place in Portland for the third time, Saturday, July 16, at Portland International Raceway. There could be more than 5,000 participants tackling the 30-some mostly man-made obstacles on the 5-kilometer PIR course. (Interested? You can still enter on the day of the event for $100. For info: www.ruggedmaniac.com. There is a spectator/festival component as well).

The Rugged Maniac races are for everyday folks, not just the CrossFit practitioners or hardcore obstacle racers who compete in the Tough Mudder and Spartan Race — or even on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”

Dickens says all types of people enter the Rugged Maniac — young, old, small, big. It’s meant to endure at your own pace, with some tough challenges.

COURTESY: RUGGED MANIAC OBSTACLE RACE - One slip on 'The Ringer' and you're all wet.“The Warped Wall” and “The Ringer” are two of the tougher obstacles, mostly because of the aforementioned water and dirt — as in mud. The wall can get wet and dirty, as can the rings — usually another competitor will help you up the wall, but if you slip on the rings, it’s dunksville in water.

A new obstacle at PIR will entail jumping on a trampoline, hitting a gong and landing in water (“Bang the Gong!”). A favorite is the “The Blobstacle,” in which you jump from a high spot onto an inflatable similar to ones used in fire rescue. (For descriptions and photos of obstacles, see www.ruggedmaniac.com).

Ty Collins of Newberg competed in his first such obstacle course racing event at Rugged Maniac last year at PIR, and he has signed up for 10 this season. “I’m officially addicted,” he says. He’ll do Spartan, Tough Mudder, BattleFrog and others. There are minor races all around the area.

“These things are popping up everywhere,” he says. “Rugged Maniac is not as intense. The one at PIR is nice; it’s an entry-level course because it’s relatively flat. Just about anybody can do it, but it’s also challenging enough for the young bucks.”

Says Dickens: “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We don’t care if you’re fat or out of shape; it’s about getting outside and having fun. Our goal is to get people off the couch and active. ... We have up to 85-year-olds entered. ... There’s about 50 percent female participation.”

Rugged Maniac has been around since 2010, but Cuban, the tech billionaire who also owns the Dallas Mavericks, boosted the bottom line with his injection of cash. He’s still a 25 percent owner of Rugged Maniac.

COURTESY: RUGGED MANIAC OBSTACLE RACE - You get wet and dirty in the Rugged Maniac.Besides the 5-kilometer obstacle race, there’ll be live music, mechanical bull riding, a pie-eating contest and more.

“It’s not as young (a crowd) as you think,” Dickens says. “We usually don’t get the college crowd, because costs go up over time (during registration period). Ages 25 to 45 are the bulk of participants.

“A lot of older people come out. We’re a lot more welcoming, because we don’t have that hardcore image.”

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