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5k Obstacle Course Mud Runs

Updated on November 15, 2013

Mud Race

Mud race
Mud race | Source

Obstacle Course Running

I recently started running in mud races. I don't particularly like jogging on the sidewalk. But, when you switch the race to the trail and throw in tons of mud and obstacles. I'm there. Typically they are 5k races that travel through trails in the woods with various obstacles like cargo nets, mud pits, dark tunnels, barb wire and there are always surprises. These courses are quite a challenge and a ton of fun. Most races are big events with music, beer and food. The last race I was at even had a mechanical bull to ride.


Obstacle Racing

Obstacle racing has become very popular in the past few years. There really is an obstacle race for everyone. If you are just getting into physical fitness you can choose an easier 5k course. If exercise is your life you can race in highly competitive sprints or even marathon distance courses. Almost all races let you race as a team or as an individual. Signing up as a team can be a great motivation to help get you through the race. But, even if you race alone the sense of camaraderie is really strong among racers. As soon as people see others struggling on an obstacle they typically offer encouragement or even a helping hand over the wall.

Signing up for a mud race can set a goal for you to prepare for in your regular exercise routine. Knowing you have a race coming up really makes you give it your all at the gym and on the track. These races are one of the biggest physical challenges I have ever faced. Almost everything about you will be challenged. You may need to climb to great heights and jump into a a giant pool of water or go into pitch black tunnels under ground. The amount of running could have you gasping for breath. Basically at the end of the race you will feel like you can do anything and the day after most of your muscles will be sore.

What to Wear to a Mud Race

An important part of racing is what you should wear. It can be pretty cool to form a team and all wear a custom shirt. That can help your team stick out.

A lot of courses have pretty muddy and wet terrain. So you are going to want to stay away from cotton. Moisture wicking clothes like Under Armour is best. You should also stick to thin light moisture wicking socks. For colder days most people go with compression style long sleeve shirts and pants. I highly recommend sneakers with fairly deep treads because you can really slip in the mud. If the course doesn't have water stations you may want a hydration pack or another way to carry water. Fingerless gloves can be great for grip and protect your hands from splinters and ropes.

The Races

So far I have run in Run For Your Lives, The Rugged Maniac, and 2 Spartan races.

Run For Your Lives was my first obstacle race. After finishing it I knew I was hooked. It was such a challenge and I had so much fun. In Run for Your Lives the idea is that you are a normal person being chased by zombies. So hundreds of people are dressed up as zombies all around the course. Some can run and others are supposed to move slow. You receive three flags for the zombies to try to take. If you end the race with at least one flag you are considered alive. If you lose all of your flags you finish dead. The winner is the fastest person left alive.

My second race was the Spartan Sprint. This was such a challenging course. The Spartan Races have a few different lengths. The sprint is a 5k+ race with over 15 obstacles. The next would be the Super Spartan. The Super Spartan is over 8+ miles and over 20 obstacles. The third is the Spartan Beast. the beast is a 12+ mile course with over 25 obstacles. This had the hardest obstacles. Not only do they try to slow you down but they also require all of your strength. If you can't make an obstacle you are given a penalty and need to do 30 burpees before continuing on with the race. A burpee is basically a squat into a pushup and then a jump into the air.

My third race was The Rugged Maniac. This course had some pretty crazy obstacles. It had a 200 foot slide that went so fast down into a huge pool of water. It definitely will make some people face their fears. The heights of the climbing structures were the highest I have done. Then well also went into dark tubes filled half way with water and a long pitch black tunnel underground. This wasn't as draining as the Spartan but, it was a lot of fun.

My fourth race was a Spartan Sprint Time Trial. This was the first ever obstacle race to take place in a stadium. It happened in Fenway Park and it was really hard even without mud and water. It included many more obstacles to make up for the lack of mud. By the end I ran up and down practically all of the stairs in the park. This included a rope climb, cargo nets, a spear throw, a baseball throw, rowing machines and both sandbags and water jugs to carry up and down the stairs. Plus numerous other obstacles and burpees.


What you wear on your feet can be pretty important at a mud race. You may want to wear some cheap old sneakers so you can just toss them at the end. A lot of races collect muddy shoes at the end to rinse off and donate. I have seen some people even run barefoot at these races. You definitely don't want hiking boots because something like that will end up very heavy when they get waterlogged and caked with mud. Many people go with cross country running sneakers. I prefer to go with minimal style trail sneakers. These are lightweight and offer your foot great motion for getting through obstacles. The Bare Grips are what I wear and I loved them. They are an extremely light minimalist style shoe with the deepest treads and great at draining water.

So are you ready for a race?

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    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 4 years ago from ma

      I really think anyone can run and finish an obstacle race. No matter how physically fit you are. It can be a lot of fun just getting some friends together and helping each other get across everything. Anyone can make it to the finish. You may not win unless you are in really good shape but, all it takes is determination to cross the finish line.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 5 years ago from Indonesia

      That looks like a very interesting race and it must need good physical strength to participate in the race.

    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 5 years ago from ma

      Hi, yes there are some during the winter. I haven't seen any in snow before. But, I just completed the Spartan Sprint at Fenway park on November 17th. It was pretty cold in the shade but in the sun it wasn't bad. I still just went with shorts and a t-shirt. Luckily there wasn't any water for this one. A lot of other people were wearing the long sleeve Under Armour type shirts and their compression type pants.

    • aykianink profile image

      aykianink 5 years ago

      Mechanical bull, too, eh? Very...creative...

    • Nathan Hapyan profile image

      Molly Robinson 5 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      Hi, do they do any of these things in the winter? Or are they limited to the warmer times? I was just thinking about the "What to wear?" section and it occurred to me that it doesn't cover what you might have to wear if it was snowing too!