Whether you’re on the hunt for your very first 5K race or you’re in search of a challenge that will take your racing skills to a whole new level, you can’t go wrong by signing up for an obstacle race.
And of course, summer is the perfect time to join in on this increasingly exciting race trend.
Sure, some races are more challenging than others, but most are all about catering to athletes of all levels—because even though it’s a “race,” the number one goal is to have a good time (and get a little muddy along the way).
If you’re ready to take on the challenge, these are the obstacle course races you absolutely won’t want to miss out on.
1. Rugged Maniac
Photo Credit: Rugged Maniac
This challenging 5K race features more than 20 obstacles including tall shipping container towers, waterslides 50 feet high, trampolines, fire and underground tunnels—just to name a few. Plus, Rugged Maniac races feature day-long festivals for celebrating with beer, bouncy houses, foam pits and mechanical bulls, and will take place in more than 20 cities across the U.S. and Canada this year.
2. Warrior Dash
Photo Credit: Warrior Dash
Worldwide, more than two million people have completed a Warrior Dash race since the event’s inception in 2009. Described as “the obstacle course race that anyone can start and everyone can finish,” this 5K obstacle run welcomes everyone from beginner- to elite-level athletes. But don’t be fooled, out on the course you’ll still work hard to overcome obstacles like the “chaotic cargo net” and the “Goliath” slide.
3. Spartan Race
Photo Credit: Flickr/Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeremy Bowcock
Finishing a Spartan Race will get you some swag, a medal and access to an after party: all typical adventure race extras. But above all, the best thing you’ll receive is a sense of true accomplishment for completing a course designed to test both your physical and mental limits. (Can’t get passed an obstacle? That’ll be 30 burpees!) But what most sets Spartan Race apart from other obstacle races is the fact that its founders aim to inspire participants (and potential participants) towards pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
4. Tough Mudder
Photo Credit: Flickr/Chris
Tough Mudder participants put their teamwork skills and endurance to the test on a 10- to 12-mile course that features military-style obstacles throughout. The hurdles are designed to challenge both your mental and physical toughness and the entire essence of the race places an emphasis on camaraderie (rather than finisher rankings), which means the race isn’t timed, yet you’re still guaranteed and unforgettably exhilarating experience.
5. Zombie Mud Run
Photo Credit: Zombie Mud Run
Zombie Mud Run courses cover a 5K distance, and along the way you’ll encounter boot-camp-like obstacles to test your strength and endurance. Of course, the added challenge is that you’ll have to avoid infected zombies along the way. Unless you are one, that is.