Which Obstacle Course Race is the Right Race For YOU?

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There are so many Obstacle Course Races today to choose from - how do you know which is best for you? Which Obstacle Course Race is the Right Race For YOU? www.runnerclick.com

If you have been running regular old road or trail races, you probably know the drill at this point and have a reliable training plan in place for you to prepare yourself for the event. In the weeks leading up to the race, you are likely running various distances to make sure your body is accustomed to both long runs and shorter runs involving increased speed and tempo intervals. Perhaps, though, you are itching to try something a bit different. An Obstacle Course Race (OCR) might be exactly what you are looking for. These races involve your beloved running but also incorporate fun and challenging obstacle course events. Your training to prepare for an OCR might be a little different than just getting yourself ready for a trail or road race, but obstacle course racing can be an excellent way to branch out and try something new. But there are a LOT of obstacle course races out there, so how do you choose? Below, we explain some of the more popular races and who they typically appeal to and why (*or perhaps why NOT) you should sign up.

What Are My Options When It Comes To Obstacle Course Racing?

Maybe the first place to start is just to know which obstacle course races are actually available for you to sign up for. If your fear is that they are all the same, you will be excited to hear that basically, every OCR is slightly different (and some are even completely unique altogether!). There are races that are longer, races that are shorter, races that feature only a few obstacles, races that feature tons of (challenging) obstacles, races that are really only for the very intense OCR racers and races that are a great family activity for different ages. Below we explain each race in detail, and why it might or might not be suitable for you and your interests and fitness levels. Among the most popular obstacle course races include the Tough Mudder, the Spartan Race Series, the Zombie Mud Run, the Warrior Dash, and the Rugged Maniac.

Which OCR Is the Best Option For YOU?

Rugged Maniac

First off we have the Rugged Maniac. We are starting with this one because of the more laid back feel it has when compared to other OCR. The Rugged Maniac starts out with a party! Before racers even take to the course, there is a pre-race party complete with volleyball, games and activities, and music and dancing. Then, once the race starts, the focus is far less on running as it is on the obstacles. The race itself is only a 5k but has 25 obstacles. With an obstacle to complete at almost every tenth of a mile, you really do not have to be in running shape at all for this race. This is a great option, then, for those of you who are novice runners or who really don’t run at all but instead focus on strength training and CrossFit workouts. Plus, this is one of the races you can probably more easily convince friends to join you in since it highlights the FUN aspect of racing instead of the competitive side of things.

Photo: Spartan | Facebook

Spartan Race Series

Next up is the Spartan Race Series. The Spartan Race is the most versatile race option for runners because three distances are offered – the sprint (3 miles), the super (8 to 10 miles), and the best (11 to 14 miles). Obviously, the longer the race, the more obstacles there are. But unlike the Rugged Maniac, the Spartan Races have quite a bit of running involved in between obstacles. There’s even more incentive to participate in the Spartan Race series if you are looking to complete your medal collection, and acquire a medal from each race. Plus, this is one of the only obstacle race series that has a “Championship Series”, which attracts some of the fastest racers in the world.

Zombie Mud Run

The Zombie Mud Run is a fabulous obstacle course race option for runners who want a shorter distance race with a unique (and slightly terrifying) level of fun. If you are into fantasy, the Zombie Apocalypse, and getting dirty, then the Zombie Mud Run is perfect for you. Before the race, participants are given three flags to wear, representing the three vital organs (the brain, the heart, and the lungs). Along the race course, you will run by (er… run away from, rather) zombies who are chasing you, trying to steal your flags. If you complete the whole race with one of your flags left, you’re still alive! But if not… 🙁

Warrior Das and Tough Mudder

The final two obstacle races to consider are the Warrior Dash and the Tough Mudder. Although both require running, obstacles, and lots of dirt and mud, they are uniquely different. The Warrior Dash can be compared to the ‘sprint’ level of the Spartan Race because it’s only a 5k run with plenty of obstacles along the way. If you are a newer runner, this is a great option for you. The obstacles are tough, too, so this is also a great option for CrossFitters or runners who also like focusing on strength training within their workouts. The Tough Mudder has a reputation of being the toughest race of them all. Usually, solo participants don’t race Tough Mudders but instead race as part of a team. However, this is certainly not for beginner runners. Not only are the obstacles extremely tough, but the shortest Tough Mudder distance is a 10-mile run. In fact, this one is so tough that it doesn’t even have clocks to keep time or awards for placement. The emphasis is all about surviving, finishing, and doing so with a team. This a great option for skilled athletes and seasoned running veterans, as well as folks who have formed a close relationship with their running community and are looking for a great team-based challenge.


  1. REEGAN VON WILDENRADT, 7 Obstacle Course Races That Will Seriously Test Your Fitness, Men's Health Online Article