Running a marathon just isn’t enough for you, is it? You want a race that will give you a chance to flex your muscles and go toe-to-toe with gravity and Mother Nature. If crossing the finish line and beating your previous time just isn’t a challenge anymore, then obstacle running is just what you need to up the ante.
Combining cardiovascular fitness with the intensity of strength training, obstacle running offers everyday people a glimpse into military training. So whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast searching for a new challenge or a new runner looking to get fit, check out the world’s 5 coolest races.
The Spartan Race. Founded in 2001, The Spartan Race is like the godfather of obstacle racing. From throwing spears and carrying sandbags to rope climbing and log jumping, each course has a slew of torturous obstacles that are sure to bring out the inner Spartan in anyone. Unlike other obstacle races, The Spartan Race offers three different courses so that runners of all skill levels can test their limits.
Ragnar Trail Relays. No, Ragnar isn’t an obstacle race, but this relay race is a great way for outdoor enthusiasts to shake things up a bit. Ragnar Trail Relays are held in some of North America’s most beautiful parks, where you’ll share breathtaking rustic views with a team of enthusiastic runners just like you. Ragnar is ideal for runners of all levels and takes just less than a day to finish. You can camp at night with your team and hang out by the bonfire, and once you cross the finish line, you’re able to party the day away with your team and celebrate a great run.
The Death Race. Take the grit and agony of the Spartan Race, multiply it by 5 and stretch it out over 48 hours, and you still won’t be able to comprehend the intensity of The Death Race. Including challenges like deep water diving, wood chopping, and a slew of mental games, The Death Race is the ultimate test of mental and physical endurance. In fact, the race is so brutally demanding that participants are required to sign a death waiver beforehand. Newbies should gain some experience at the Spartan Race before putting their lives on the line with this beast of a run.
Tough Mudder. To anyone who participates in Tough Mudder, running a marathon is about so much more than merely finishing the race. Instead, Tough Mudder is all about the thrill of achievement throughout a race—jumping over fire, scaling 12-foot walls, sloshing through pools of mud, and doing whatever else it takes to finish. Tough Mudder was specially designed by British Special Forces to give runners an opportunity to experience the true glory of victory that ordinary marathons just don’t offer. Upon finishing, participants are well-rewarded with fresh beer and live music, and proceeds are donated to The Wounded Warrior Project.
Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge 5K. If you’re looking for an extreme race without all the mud, check out the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge (ROC Race). This game show-inspired obstacle run features 12 huge obstacles, a devastating wrecking ball, the world’s largest water slide, and a moon bounce that’s big enough to have its own zip code. While it sounds like a bunch of fun and games, the jumping, crawling, and mile of tires will have every muscle in your body torched by the finish line.