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Rugged Race caters to fitness trends

UREC is hosting popular Coug obstacle course, run, which was adapted from original Campus 5K

About+120+participants+spread+over+10+heats+took+part+in+the+Rugged+Coug+Race+on+April+15%2C+2017%2C+starting+at+the+Outdoor+Recreation+Center+and+ending+at+University+Recreation.+The+race+spanned+3.2+miles+with+15+obstacles+made+by+students.+
About 120 participants spread over 10 heats took part in the Rugged Coug Race on April 15, 2017, starting at the Outdoor Recreation Center and ending at University Recreation. The race spanned 3.2 miles with 15 obstacles made by students.

About 120 participants spread over 10 heats took part in the Rugged Coug Race on April 15, 2017, starting at the Outdoor Recreation Center and ending at University Recreation. The race spanned 3.2 miles with 15 obstacles made by students.

KYLE TUCKER | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

KYLE TUCKER | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

About 120 participants spread over 10 heats took part in the Rugged Coug Race on April 15, 2017, starting at the Outdoor Recreation Center and ending at University Recreation. The race spanned 3.2 miles with 15 obstacles made by students.

BRANDON BJELKE, Evergreen contributor

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As students prepare their final push toward the end of the semester, Pullman community members will gather at WSU to climb walls, flip tires and carry cinder blocks at the third annual Rugged Coug Race.

The race, hosted by University Recreation, features a course roughly three miles in length and strewn with challenging obstacles, according to the UREC website.

While the obstacles are meant to challenge participants, they are also designed to be manageable for racers of all ages and athletic abilities, said DJ Mackie, UREC coordinator of competitive sports and youth programs. The race is open to all people age 12 and older, according to the UREC website.

The Rugged Coug Race is an adapted version of the Campus on the Run 5K race, which attracted fitness-minded people across the Palouse for years. When participation in the 5K started to waver, UREC added obstacles in an attempt to appeal to an evolving fitness landscape.

“In fitness trends that we researched, people weren’t running 5Ks anymore,” said Mackie, who leads the Rugged Coug Race organization effort.

According to an article published on Active.com, obstacle course races and mud runs are exploding in popularity, attracting millions of participants worldwide every year. A search for obstacle course races and mud runs on the website yields more than 2,000 events scattered across the globe.

After a year-to-year decrease in Campus on the Run 5K participation, numbers have started to rise again since the introduction of the obstacle course. About 80 people ran the inaugural Rugged Coug Race in 2016. That number rose to about 120 last year.

Mackie credits the rise in interest to the unique challenges that obstacle course races provide. Rugged Coug Race participants have the opportunity to physically conquer obstacles that stand in their way, which translates to a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that they can overcome barriers in other aspects of life as well, Mackie said.

WSU senior Grant Nelson ran in the 2017 Rugged Coug Race and echoed Mackie’s emphasis on personal achievement.

“I really felt like I’d accomplished something, that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone,” Nelson said. “It was just fun to get outside and see how well I could do.”

Nelson, who ran cross-country in high school, said the obstacle course showed him challenges he had never found on traditional running courses.

“With a regular 5K, it’s all about endurance, and you’re constantly just pushing yourself,” Nelson said. “Whereas, with this kind of race, there’s these explosive changes in what muscle groups you’re using.”

Those who have participated in previous Rugged Coug Races can still expect new challenges this year, as UREC makes a point of adding to the course each spring.

“We always bring something new out each year, and that’s the surprise,” Mackie said.

The obstacles featured in the Rugged Coug Race are made locally. Each year, UREC sends new obstacle plans to the Moscow Middle School shop class, where students then construct the obstacles to be used on race day.

“The kids are so excited that they get to build something that gets used,” Mackie said.

Some of those children even show up on race day to test their own handiwork on the course, Mackie said.

Participation in the 2018 Rugged Coug Race is open to all WSU students, staff and faculty as well as community members. All participants will receive a Rugged Coug Race T-shirt. Winners of each of the five age divisions will receive wooden medals, Mackie said.

Those interested in participating can register online at the UREC website. The race will begin at 10:15 a.m. on April 21 at the WSU Outdoor Recreation Center, according to the website.

This year’s participants can also expect to find now-veteran Rugged Coug Racer Grant Nelson at the starting line.

“Oh yeah, you’ve got to come back,” Nelson said. “You’ve got to see if you’re doing better each time.”

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Rugged Race caters to fitness trends