Sure, you could be normal and run a nice little 5k.
People smiling at you from the sidelines and handing you Gatorade when you cross the finish line.
But why do a regular foot race, when you can be electrocuted, screamed at, and eat a pound of mud while wearing a viking helmet and fake beard?
If you’re like me, you probably know someone who’s been to an obstacle race like Tough Mudder. Extreme challenges like this have been going on for decades, but it seems like they’ve exploded exponentially in the last few years.
Like never before, people are lining up to challenge themselves physically in the most extreme—and bizarre—ways.
Common themes include:
- More mud
- Unusual obstacle courses ala American Gladiator
- Challenges designed by the military
- Zombies and ninjas
Why the sudden popularity?
Is it because we feel like our generation has a had it easy, and we need to challenge ourselves? True, when you hear stories about what guys went through in World War II or Vietnam, it’s not hard to feel like a total softie.
Or maybe in the age of “share” and “like” we just feel the need to amp up the content on our walls?
Whatever the reason, if you want to do an unusual physical challenge, you now have more choices than ever.
And what’s cool is that so many of these races have a charity component. So—while you’re running away from zombies and crawling under barbed wire—you can rest assured that you’re helping someone in need. I have to admit, it definitely beats putting quarters in the March of Dimes tin.
Here are 12 of the most interesting and unusual endurance challenge events, in no particular order:
|EVENT NAME||HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE…|
|1. The Warrior Dash||Mud. Viking helmets. Body paint. Fire.|
|2. Tough Guy||Mud. Tarzan ropes. Razor wire. Freezing Arctic water.|
|3. Man Games||Mud. Hog wrestling. Dangerous water sports. Axe throwing.|
|4. Goruck Challenge||Log-lifting. Fireman’s carries. Heavy backpacks.|
Special ops drills.
|5. Bonefrog Challenge||Mud. Sand. Water. Navy Seals. Rope ladders. Fire.|
|6. The Devil Dash||Mud. Angel and devil outfits. Running up mountains. Fire.|
|7. Swamp Dash & Bash||Swamp mud. Monkey bars. Hay bale tower climb. Fire.|
|8. Mud Ninja||Mud. Climbing walls. Rope ladders. Human barrel launch.|
|9. Spartan Race||Mud. Spear-throwing. Gasmasks. Getting chained to|
a cinder block.
|10. Bootcamp Challenge||Drill sergeants. Dirt crawling. Verbal abuse. Pushups.|
|11. Rough Runner||Swamp mud. Wall climbs. Incline treadmills and ramps.|
Giant pigeon shit.
|12. Zombie Evacuation||Minefields. Running. The undead. Creepy decorations.|
For a more comprehensive list, check out the unofficial database of obstacle races assembled by Nerve Rush. It’s a great resource, with pretty much any kind of extreme challenge you can think of—from A (Alpha Warrior) to Z (Zombie Blood Run). You may also want to check out Brett Stewart’s book Ultimate Obstacle Race Training: Crush the World’s Toughest Courses.
Have you done an obstacle race like this? Leave a comment below and tell us about your experience. Was it crazy? Would you do it again?