BY KELLY KENDALL
Jumping over fire. Plummeting down a 50-foot water slide. Teetering on balance beams over a pit of water as enormous red bags swing threateningly to and fro.
If that’s your idea of a good time and you relish getting dirty and wet, then the Rugged Maniac Obstacle Race is for you. It’s coming to Paoli Peaks, 45 miles south of Bloomington, on September 19. The race is a trek through a range of gauntlets, most of which involve getting muddy — really muddy.
But this isn’t just another “mud run,” says Rob Dickens, chief operating officer of Rugged Maniac. He points out that it’s shorter than many such events and packed with more obstacles — 25 in all.
“Our distance is a 5K, so people aren’t so exhausted at the end of the day that they want to go home,” Dickens says. Many participants are in top physical condition and try to complete the race in the fastest possible time. “But we welcome all genders, all shapes and sizes. We get people who are not just elite athletes.” Participants really want to get outdoors and have some fun, and many walk part or all of the way, Dickens says.
Typically, Rugged Maniac events have about 50 percent female participation, which, Dickens says, is much higher than similar competitions. And a party atmosphere pervades: Once runners have crossed the finish line, they encounter a festival with a foam pit, mechanical bulls, dancing, and beer for sale to participants and spectators. Spectators are encouraged to attend and admission for nonparticipants is free.
Fans of the TV show Shark Tank may remember Rugged Maniac from when Dickens and the company’s chief executive officer, Brad Scudder, pitched their concept for funding in April 2014. They hit the jackpot when “Shark” and Indiana University alumnus Mark Cuban agreed to provide $1.75 million in investment funds.
To sign up for the obstacle race, go to ruggedmaniac.com. Tickets started at $69, with a $10 discount for students and the military. The price will gradually rise to $100 the day of the event.