A Complete Guide To Finding The Right Obstacle Course Race

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
November 29, 2012

Obstacle course races have taken America by storm. Races like Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and the Spartan Death Race are popping up wherever you can find a pool of mud and some logs to jump over.

Yet NOT all obstacle course races are created equal. There are some designed for only toughest of the tough… ehem… Spartan Death Race. Others are created so that almost anyone can enjoy it–thank you Warrior Dash.

How Did Obstacle Course Races Start?

They are certainly not new. In fact, obstacles have been part of the Olympic games for thousands of years. For example, the Stadion was an original Greek contest where runners ran naked around a track and had to navigate around obstacles.

The military also uses obstacle courses to train their troops. It is a great way to test agility and endurance that are much needed for combat.


How Do You Choose The Right Obstacle Course Race?

1. Location

Location will likely be the most important factor when choosing an obstacle course race. Unless you are Hobie Call and have a $20,000 bounty on your head so you must travel around the country… choose a race that is close to your home.

2. Difficulty

What is your current fitness level? If you are only a weekend warrior and workout at your leisure then start off with an obstacle course race that is shorter (1-3 miles). For expert training in obstacle course racing, check out MudRunManiac and DirtInYourSkirt. Both of these sites were created by experienced mud runners and obstacle course racers. They provide tips on how to prepare for beginning races or how to get ready for the Ultimate Spartan Death Race.

3. Price

Price is another big factor when choosing an obstacle course race. They will typically run more than a 10K or 25K race. Expect to pay anywhere from $60-100.

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So Many Obstacle Course Races To Choose From!

There are many obstacle course races. In a previous article, I highlighted 10 obstacle course races you have to see to believe. Here I will be sharing links to many obstacle course races. They range from beginner to advanced and include price and video clip (if available).

1. Hero Rush Obstacle Course

Hero Rush is a 5K “Firefighter” themed obstacle course race. They have events throughout the United States.
Price: $65 – $80
Distance: 5K

Video: Hero Rush: Firefighter-Themed Obstacle Race & Experience


2. Tough Mudder Obstacle Course

Tough Mudder is one of the most popular races out there. They have some pretty intense obstacles as part of their course so if you are a beginner I would not recommend this race.
Price: $125 – $135 (standard entry)
Distance: 10-12 miles

Video: Tough Mudder 2012

3. Rugged Maniac Obstacle Course

Rugged Maniac is another popular race that makes use of real rugged terrain–think fields, forests, ski slopes, motocross tracks–and at least twenty challenging obstacles in each race. The race ends with an after party filled with great music, food, and lots of booze.
Price: $48 – $88
Distance: 3.1 miles

Video: Rugged Maniac


4. Run For Your Lives Obstacle Course Race

If you’re into zombies, then Run For Your Lives is just the obstacle race for you. Run 3.1 miles, go through a series of challenging obstacles, steer clear of the walking dead, survive with your brains intact. If you don’t want to be a runner, you can sign up as a zombie and put your acting chops to the test.  This one of a kind adventure race will be like practice for an actual zombie apocalypse.
Price: $67 – $97 (runners), $35 (zombies)
Distance: 3.1 miles

Video: Run For You Lives Zombie Apocalypse Film


5. The Warrior Dash Obstacle Course

As mentioned earlier, almost anyone can enjoy the Warrior Dash, but make no mistake, the race and the obstacles are no walk in the park. However, it’s more about finishing like a true Warrior than winning. Coming in crazy (but safe) costumes and warrior beards are highly encouraged.
Price: $40 – $60
Distance: 3 miles

Video: Warrior Dash Summer 2012


6. Race The Reaper Obstacle Course

Race the Reaper is one of the toughest obstacle course races out there.  This extreme race will have you running six miles of extremely tough terrain and completing twenty extraordinary obstacles. This race is so extreme that slots are limited. Not everyone can battle the reaper.
Price: $55 – $75
Distance: 6 miles

Video: Race the Reaper Extreme Adventure Race


7. MH Survival of the Fittest Obstacle Course

The Survival of the Fittest race by Men’s Health is another popular adventure running event that mixes urban and rural scenes with several obstacles. Whether you run solo or with a team, survival is still the ultimate goal.
Price: $67 – $93 (per person)
Distance: 6 miles

Video: Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest


8. Spartan Race Obstacle Course

Designed by a Royal Marine and seven super athletes, the Spartan Race is one race that aims to bring out the tough Spartan in you. You can choose among the Spartan Sprint (3 miles and at least 15 obstacles), the Super Spartan (8 miles plus at least 20 obstacles) the Spartan Beast (10-12 miles and at least 25 obstacles), or the ultimate Death Race.
Price: $60 – $145 (depending on which Spartan race you’re joining)
Distance: 3 – 8 miles (depending on which Spartan race you’re joining)

Video: Spartan Race Motivational Video 2012


9. You May Die Death Race Obstacle Course

The tagline for the Spartan Death Race, “You May Die”, means exactly what is says. The Death Race is an endurance race designed to bring you to the limits of your mind and body. Only 90% who enter finish the race.
Price: $600 – $900
Distance: 40 miles

Video: Death Race: Inside the Spartan Death Race Challenge


10. Tough Guy Obstacle Course

Completing the Tough Guy obstacle course definitely cements your place as a extreme adventure racer. There’s a reason this race is tagged as the “safest most dangerous” obstacle event in the world. The Tough Guy course has  an area they call the Killing Fields, which will surely put your mental and physical toughness to the test.
Price: starts at around $62
Distance: 7-8 miles

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Video: Tough Guy Obstacle Course

Tough Guy™ Intro from Mr Mouse on Vimeo.


11. Swamp Dash & Bash Obstacle Course

The Swamp Dash and Bash is another adventure event that will certainly get you down and dirty. This race is on rain or shine.
Price: $55 – $95
Distance: 3.1 miles

Video: Swamp Dash & Bash Obstacles


12. The Savage Race

The Savage Race promises its runners extreme and challenging obstacles, mud, fire, and lots of bruises. The venues for the Savage Races are carefully chosen to ensure that the race is run on some of the toughest terrains in the area.
Price: $69 – $129
Distance: 4-6 miles

Video: Savage Race 2012


13. Firebreather Challenge

Feel like racing and going through obstacles til your lungs and muscles burn? The Firebreather Challenge is just what you need. There two levels of challengers. Firestarters are those who can bypass obstacles or complete scaled down versions of the obstacles. Firebreathers are those on great physical condition and have to complete all obstacles.
Price: $40 – $85
Distance: 3.5 – 6.5 miles

Video: Firebreather Challenge


14. Wild Warrior Obstacle Race and Mud Run

This race is fairly new, but it promises of the same extreme obstacle race and mud run as the other obstacle races in the xunner series: the Mad Monk, Water Wipeout, and Wild Thing. This extreme adventure race is set in a gorgeous location with the perfect mix of mud, wooded areas, and fields.
Price: $64 – $128
Distance: 3.1 – 6.2 miles

Video: Wild Warrior Official Video


15. Mad Monk Obstacle Race

The second race in the xrunner series, the Mad Monk includes several obstacles such as a high hurdles, tunnels, tightropes, jacobs ladder, and a whole assortment of obstacles. Of course, you can be sure that there will be lots of mud and water, too.
Price: $64 – $128
Distance: 3.1 – 6.2 miles

Video: Mad Monk Obstacle Race


16. Water Wipeout Obstacle Race

The Water Wipeout is the third race in the xrunner series and you can expect tough obstacles testing your endurance and willpower. Be prepared to battle water slides, hurdles, giant walls, tightropes, and other obstacle courses.
Price: $64 – $128
Distance: 3.1 – 6.2 miles

Video: Water Wipeout


17. Wild Thing Obstacle Race

The Wild Thing obstacle race is said to be the toughest challenge in the xrunner series. Water slides, tightropes, walls, quick sand, the Swamp of Doom are just some of the obstacles you can expect to survive in this extreme obstacle race.
Price: $64 – $128
Distance: 3.1 – 6.2 miles

Video: Wild Thing Obstacle Race


18. The Original Mud Run

The Original Mud Run is all about getting down and dirty and completing some of the toughest obstacle challenges in a race. The organizers aren’t even too secretive about the challenges. You can find a list on the website to help you prepare for the grueling and extremely muddy race.
Price: $50 – $75
Distance: 3.1 – 6.2 miles

Video: The Original Mud Run


19. Bold R Dash

Bold R Dash is a 3.1 mile military style obstacle course designed to challenge the mind and body. There are no mile runs in between obstacles. Participants in this race are expected to complete all twenty or so obstacles in succession for the entire 3.1 miles.
Price: $75 (individual), $225-$375 (teams of 3-5)
Distance: 3.1 miles

Video: Bold R Dash

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20. Bluegrass MudRun

The Bluegrass MudRun boasts of a military style obstacle course that is surrounded and consists mostly of, what else, mud! Anyone can join this mud run, whether you’re a top athlete or a newbie.
Price: $55 (individual)
Distance: 3.1 miles


There you have it, some of the most extreme and awesome obstacle course races that you can find. But before you go running off to sign up for any of these races, you have to make sure you’re up for the challenge. Do your research, prep and training. You can check out mud runner blogs like Mud Run Maniac, Dirt in Your Skirt, and Conquer Any Course for tips and words of wisdom from experienced racers.

Which obstacle course challenge do you feel like taking?

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