A Brief Guide to Obstacle Course Racing for a Cause

Obstacle course races aren’t just for the super-serious athletes. They’re also for anyone who wants to get outside, get moving and raise a little money for charity

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Illustrations by Andrew Benson

Here in Alberta, there are several fun events that support the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Rob Dickens, the chief operating officer and co-founder of Rugged Maniac, shares everything you need to know if you’re hoping to try a charity-focused race for the first time.

Who should race obstacle course events?

Unlike other obstacle course races out there, Dickens says Rugged Maniac isn’t targeted at extreme athletes. “People of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds come to our event,” says Dickens. “We’ve seen participants who are 85 years old, we’ve seen participants who are 400 pounds, and we’ve seen families participate together.”

How to train

If you want to finish, you don’t need to undergo a rigorous training regimen. “To get the most out of the experience, get yourself into cardiovascular shape. You want to be able to complete five kilometres, running or walking,” says Dickens. “Beyond that, try to work on your upper body strength so you can lift yourself up over a ledge.”

What to expect on race day

Race day begins with check-in, where you’ll get your race number and an assigned start time. The Rugged Maniac course has 25 obstacles over a distance of five kilometres. The average competitor completes the course in 50 to 60 minutes.

When the race is over

After you finish and collect your medal, stick around. “It’s a race, but Rugged Maniac is also a festival,” says Dickens. “There’s craft beer, food and crazy contests like pie-eating and limbo competitions.”

Obstacle Course Races that Benefit the Alberta Cancer Foundation

Color Me Rad

Where: Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Calgary

What: The only obstacles are the colour bombs, but you want to get hit. The goal is to finish the five-km course as bright and colourful as possible.

Down and Dirty

Where: Sunridge Ski Area, Edmonton

What: A five-km obstacle course that features lots of lifting, lots of climbing and an 80-foot slip-and-slide down the ski hill.

Rugged Maniac

Where: Spruce Meadows, Calgary

What: Over five muddy kilometres, racers complete 25 or more obstacles, which could include crawling under barbed wire, lifting heavy sandbags and running up the Warped Wall.

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