10 Obstacle Course Races You Have To See To Believe

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
September 27, 2011

Obstacle course racing is becoming an extremely popular event for people to test their inner fortitude and determination.

I remember as a child setting up our basement with pillows and chairs that my mom’s daycare and I would have to race through to test our agility.

It seems that obstacle courses have become much more extreme nowadays.

The below list will showcase my top 10 most extreme obstacle course races in the world.

Some of them will make you cry just thinking about them. Others will get you excited to try it.

Basics of Obstacle Course Races

Basic obstacles to some of the courses below include

  • mud
  • fire
  • 10,000 volts of electricity
  • rain
  • lifting heavy objects
  • height
  • water

Extreme obstacle racing is one of the newest fitness trends and definitely an event you need to put on your bucket list.

Seeing as I live in Michigan, The Tough Mudder obstacle race seems like a good first event to tackle.

Here Are the Obstacle Course Races:

10. Swamp Dash & Bash Obstacle Course

This obstacle course is a great starter obstacle course for anyone looking to get their feet wet in the world of obstacle racing.

9. Rugged Maniac Obstacle Course

Rugged Maniac was designed with the help of Navy Seals and is a great race to start off with. It will test much of the same things that the harder races will but to a lesser degree.

Knee health score 3


8. Run For Your Lives Obstacle Course Race

Run For Your Lives race is a one-of-a-kind course that is 5K long and has some great obstacles. The unique aspect is that throughout the course there are zombies that are trying to get you.

7. The Warrior Dash Obstacle Course

The Warrior Dash is an extremely popular mud run/obstacle course. This race is challenging and will be an event to remember.

6. Race The Reaper Obstacle Course

Race the Reaper is an extreme obstacle course designed by ex-military civil and mechanical engineers. It is 5 miles long and incorporates 18 obstacles “from hell” as they say.


5. MH Survival of the Fittest Obstacle Course

This extreme obstacle course was created by the popular Men’s Health Magazine. This is based out of the UK but there are four different locations to choose from.

4. Tough Mudder Obstacle Course

This extreme obstacle course is one of the most famous races around. It is 10-12 miles of intense agony and was designed by british special forces. It tests mental strength, stamina, grit and camaraderie.


3. Spartan Race Obstacle Course

The Spartan Race was designed by an ex-marine and 7 ultra athletes. Other than the below “You May Die” Death Race, there are 3 other extreme obstacle courses called the Spartan Sprint, Super Spartan, and Spartan Beast.

2. Tough Guy Obstacle Course

The Tough Guy Race is the ultimate in extreme obstacle courses. It is 4 grueling hours of pretty much the most unbearable torture you can imagine. The race works its way throuh barbwire, extreme cold, fire, and many other obstacles.

1. You May Die Death Race Obstacle Course

The You May Die Death Race is a 24-hour extreme obstacle course that incorporates mud runs, trail racing, sleep deprivation, and mental & physical challenges. They state that there is a 90% failure rate and that you should only enter this race if you have lived a long life to date. This race is part of the Spartan Race Series but is the most extreme.

Bonus Race Updates!

1. Savage Mountain Obstacle Course Race:

There’s a new race called Savage Mountain. It’s a race to support Parents with Autistic children. 100% of the donations go straight to helping parents afford to get their Autistic children’s assistance.

Extreme Obstacle Course Races are meant to be completed! Which one are you gonna try?

Show/Hide Comments (30 comments)
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  2. Jeff

    Outstanding blog and website, Todd. I couldn’t agree with you more about your philosophy toward bodyweight training. Although I’ve had my fill of special op training, I’d like to try one of these Obstacle Races. Down here in rural Central America, we use natural obstacles that are found in the forest and on the farm during our 6 day Farm Fit Camps. Although not a race, it’s a life challenge focusing on calisthenics that will put you in serious contact with the mud and dirt. Can you survive the week?

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    These all seem like very hard obstacle courses.

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  10. Devon

    You may die… not such a welcoming name, is it?

  11. Max Keefe

    The ORun sets a new standard. There’s a lot I could say about it, but one experienced racer commented, “Just wanted to say that I have done several Spartan Races, Warrior Dash, the Merrell Down and Dirty, the Barbarian Challenge, the Mud Crusade and nothing compares to the O Run. It was a great race that I will travel to do again. Looking forward to the next venue. Thanks for challenging me and my team.”

    Another commented, “Just wanted to say thanks for delivering what u promised for the race today. It was most definitely the hardest 4 miles I’ve ever done! Me and a group of my friends that did this today drove to VA 2 weeks ago for the Super Spartan and it was 10 miles but didnt even come close to the toughness of the O-Run!! We’ve done Tough Mudder, Spartan, CMC, Fire Breather and, none touch what u gave us today and for that we all say thanks and can’t freakin wait to do another one!! O Run is the best, hardest, most challenging mentally and physically demanding race today keep up the good work!!”

    : D

  12. JZMay

    New one in the UK in a couple of months –

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Looks hard though I wish the video actually was of the race and not just words. Great find JZ!

  13. Iain

    Hi Todd

    I’d like to chat to you about building, what I hope to be, the top obstacle course in South Africa. We currently have the Warrior Race and the Impi Challenge out here – both awesome races, but at the same time we pretty much know what to expect. The Warrior Race was held last week end the 9th and 10th Feb – attracting 5000 entrants, with the Organizers turning away over 1200 online entrants. At the equivelant of +/- US$40-00 per entry, not bad going.
    What I wanted to chat to you about relates to the participation in these events by our youngsters, very few of whom entered on Saturday & Sunday. We have 3 Boys ages 11, 13 & 15, all 3 of whom entered the 7km “Rookies Race” on Sunday – although it was restricted to a minimum age of 15. Knowing the Organizer and him knowing what our Sons are capable of achieving, was obviously a big help, thus enabling them to race.What some considered as being severe my 3 considered a breeze and completed the entire race including each and every obstacle, in just over an hour, whereby it took some individuals as long as 3 hours to complete. Plus, they did it as a Team and finished as a Team. I would like to email you directly re a few ideas etc. assuming that is at all possible. I’m sure that 95% of young adults around the globe would agree with me when I say that the “electronic age” has taken over the lives of most youngsters we know, thus seeing a rise in obesity at a young age and so the list of negatives is endless. I’m fortunate in that our 3 Boys do not fall into any of those categories. Being an ex Rhodesian Special Forces member myself I have opted to bring up our 3 boys as we were in our days – and that I have stuck to and done – no play stations etc. etc. but if they require new Quad Bike tyres or Sports equipment due to them growing out of it, I oblige. If it costs me dearly in getting them the best coaching or having them enter US$40-00 events every week end – I oblige. And it’s for this reason that they play a variety of Sports competitively at: School, Club, Provincial (County) and National level. Having said that, their fitness levels has helped them considerably throughout their Schooling careers from an Academic point of view. As you may gather from this brief introductory letter, my passion now lies with our younger generation and finding a way of encouraging them to participate in such type of events around the globe, hence the reason for my wanting to chat to you.



  14. Hubie Cushman

    Check out http://www.indianmudrun.com for the best mud run in Ohio or the surrounding states. Like us on Facebook for a chance to win prizes.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Thanks Hubie!

  15. Paul Buijs

    If you are looking for mud run or obstacle race to do, I have them ALL listed here, searchable by state and country.


    • Todd Kuslikis

      Thanks for the resource Paul! Looks great!

  16. Marty

    I’ve done some basic 5k obstacle courses but nothing too much like this. How much do you think it would cost to put on one of these events? I think I might want to try my hand at course design. Great list Todd!

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Marty,

      Great question. Not a clue. I bet if you didn’t have any promotion and just spread it by word of mouth it could be pretty cheap. Maybe a few thousand for a simple course (building walls, fire pits, barbwire tunnels, etc.). With a bit of creativity you can reduce the price. Though if you wanted to compete with Tough Mudder probably in the hundreds of thousands. 🙂


      • Brian

        Todd – love your site man! I’ve been doing bodyweight training for years and so much of it fell on deaf ears whenever someone asked me how I stayed in great shape and more importantly – INJURY FREE! You’ve opened my eyes to quite a few new nuggets I’ve never attempted before – me and my clients thank you!

        P.S. I’m in the Tampa Bay area, are you as well? I ask because I do obstacle course/mud runs and am always looking for like-minded individuals to assist me in my programming for o-course/mud run prep at the gym. anyway – GOD SPEED!


        • Todd Kuslikis

          That’s awesome Brian. Yes, body weight exercises definitely help people stay injury free.

          I’m in Grand Rapids, MI. If I am ever in the area I would love to check out your course. Sounds like an exciting job!

          Have a great one buddy!


  17. Mike

    I never heard of some of these races, thanks for posting this info. I’m signed up to do the Warrior Dash in June in Pennsylvania.

    Could you think about moving your social media like bar. I find it very distracting.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Mike,

      Glad you’re signed up for the Warrior Dash. Keep me posted on how you do.

      Thanks for the comment about the social media bar. What browser are you using? I use firefox and Safari and it’s not in the way. Yet, I’ll get someone on it.


  18. Thomas Frank

    Well, I know what I’m doing with the rest of my year now! Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, and Tough Mudder are all on my list. Thanks so much for pointing me to these races! Running was getting boring.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Thomas,

      Yeah, the races are totally extreme. Here’s a short article on how to train for obstacle course races. Its more military focused but it might still help. How To Master Obstacle Courses

      Good luck man! Let me know how you do!


  19. Steve

    United Kingdom, new for 2012… eXtreme obstacle races designed by British Special Forces and Royal Marines. NOT your average trail run or obstacle race….! 2012 events, wild warrior, mad monk, water wipeout, wild thing.

    WARNING; Four eXtreme obstacle races for 2012. Obstacles include;- Death Slides, Swamp of Doom, Water Slides, Tightropes, Tunnels, Quick Sand, Giant walls, Cargo Nets, Mud, Water and The Assault Course….!

    Wild Warrior obstacle race, adrenaline fuelled eXtreme challenges, including;- The Swamp of Doom, Water Slides, Tightropes, Tunnels, Quick Sand, Giant walls, Cargo Nets, Mud, Water and The Assault Course….!

    When: Sunday, 25th March. 2012 at 10:00hrs
    Where: Wild Park, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 3BN.
    Disciplines: 5 or 10 km trail run, plus over thirty Obstacles…

    Mad Monk obstacle race will Include the new DEATH SLIDE….! The infamous river crossing, mud bank, tunnels, hay bales, hurdles, assault course, balance zone, toxic stream and cargo nets..!

    Area: Darley Abbey, Rugby Club, Derby, DE22 1EB
    When: Sunday 13th May 2012
    Disciplines: Trail Run, Swim, Mud Bank, Assault Course…

    Water Wipeout obstacle race, An adrenaline fuelled obstacle race with over 50 obstacles….! The ultimate eXtreme challenge…! Water Wipeout a 5k or 10k trail run with obstacles and challenges designed to take you out of your comfort zone..!

    When: Saturday 23rd June 2012.
    Disciplines: Obstacle Race, Water Slides, Assault Course…
    Distance: 5 km or 10km
    Where: National Water Sports Centre: Nottingham, NG12 2LU.

    Wild Thing, eXtreme obstacle race, including;- The Swamp of Doom,Water Slides, Tightropes, Tunnels, Quick Sand, Giant walls, Cargo Nets, Mud, Water and The Assault Course….!

    When: Sunday, 23rd September 2012 at 10:00hrs
    Where: Wild Park, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 3BN.
    Disciplines: 5 or 10 km trail run, plus over forty Obstacles…!

    • Todd Kuslikis

      These are awesome Steve! Do you manage these courses?

      • Steve

        Hi Todd,

        Yes Im the event director but I cant take all the credit, each race needs around forty marshals and there is a key group who help design and build the courses, these include royal marines, special forces and a whole host of outdoor professionals!

        • Terry Sheffer

          Hey Steve, I am looking for a consultant to help us organize an obstacle race event. Are u able??
          Please let me know.

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