CLOVERDALE â€” Just how popular have obstacle races, mud and adventure runs become? Take a gander at Mudrunguide.com, which lists dozens of such events happening across
North America this summer and fall. The website is littered with colourful event names â€“ Badass Dash, Dirty Bird Mud Run, Mudderella (coming to Whistler on Sept. 26) and Tough Mudder among them.
Thereâ€™s also the Rugged Maniac series, a 5K obstacle race to be set up at Cloverdale Fairgrounds on Saturday (Aug. 15).
The event, staged by one of North Americaâ€™s largest obstacle race companies, is designed for those â€œwho love fun, fitness and festivals.â€ On their way to the finish line, runners will jump over fire, crawl through underground tunnels, rocket down a 50-foot water slide and bounce on trampolines.
The director of the Rugged Maniac series in Canada is Dave Cannon, a South Surrey resident who, with his son, participated in the event in Portland a couple years ago, before he got involved as a partner.
â€œWe loved how well it was organized and how much fun it was,â€ Cannon said of his adventure in Oregon.
â€œItâ€™s more of an introductory style of race,â€ he continued. â€œSome of the other races out there are kind of intimidating for some people, with electric shocks and people jumping into bins full of ice. Thereâ€™s none of that with Rugged Maniac.â€¦ We try to make it a fun race and keep it more about obstacles, less running, and then we have some fun at the festival part of it.â€
Not long ago, Rugged Maniac CEO Brad Scudder brought the event concept to the Shark Tank TV show and secured a quarter-share investment from business guru Mark Cuban, to the tune of $1.75 million.
In Canada this year, Rugged Maniac events in Toronto and Calgary have each attracted more than 4,000 participants, Cannon said.
At each race, waves of 300 people are started every 15 minutes on a course peppered with close to 25 obstacles. Once the runners are done, theyâ€™re welcome to enjoy a festival that features beer and music.
Each event site is able to accommodate a different set of obstacles, Cannon noted.
â€œSome of these are held at ski hills, motorcross parks, places like that,â€ he said. â€œIn Cloverdale, I think the fairgrounds will have a fantastic festival area and also some great obstacles.â€
For example, some venues donâ€™t allow for the digging of water pits, but caretakers of the facility in Cloverdale are OK with, Cannon said.
â€œAnd weâ€™ll have shipping containers there for our 50-foot slide, which we call Mount Maniac, set up next to the festival area. Spectators can view the action there, and theyâ€™re free to do so around the whole course.â€
(Story continues below Rugged Maniac promo video)
The price to race is $89 prior to event day, or $100 on it, with $1 from each registration fee going to the Canucks for Kids Fund. Details are posted at Ruggedmaniac.com/events/vancouver and Facebook.com/ruggedmaniac.
Of course, with all that mud and muck comes dirt-caked sneakers and assorted clothing â€“ much of it left behind by race participants. The FAQ section of the Rugged Maniac website suggests runners wear shoes and clothes that are easily cleaned, such as spandex shorts and sports bras for girls, board shorts and tech tees for guys.
â€œRugged Maniac donates their used sneakers to a group called Eco Sneakers in the U.S., and weâ€™re looking for a similar group to donate our sneakers to from our Canadian events,â€ Cannon told the Now.
â€œWe will be collecting all donated runners in a couple large boxes on race day and have reached out to a few places like the Boys and Girls Clubs to see if they want to take these. We havenâ€™t found a group that will take them yet, though. Please let us know if you come across anyone who fits this bill and we will donate our sneakers to them.â€