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Why You Should Particpate In A Mud Run Or Obstacle Course Race

Updated on August 8, 2013
The ice bath at the Savage Race 2012.
The ice bath at the Savage Race 2012.
The slip and slide at the Savage Race 2012.
The slip and slide at the Savage Race 2012.

"An obstacle course is equal parts mental toughness and physical endurance. These events require the primal desire to conquer the course and the physical dexterity to tackle each obstacle that we (happily) put in your way." -Alex Patterson, CMO Tough Mudder

Obstacle course races date back to the Greek and Roman era. One of the original events was called the steeplechase and it originated in the British Isles. Runners would run from the steeple in one town to the steeple in the next town. Along the way, the athletes would be required to traverse natural obstacles like streams and low walls. The beginnings of obstacle course racing has given way to the more intense and muddy form of racing that we see today.

Most mud runs are between 3 miles and up to 20 miles in distance and require the racer to complete many obstacles along the way. These obtacles include but are not limited to: swimming through ice water, carrying sandbags through mud, balance beams, cargo nets, crawling under barbed wire, jumping over fire, climbing over hay bales, monkey bars, zip lines, tall slip and slides, and many more. These obstacles are put throughout the course of a run so many experienced runners still have a hard time conquering the hurdles placed in their way. They are designed for people of any age and levels of athleticism. As of 2011 over 1 million Americans have completed in an obstacle course race in the United States.

The first race for all of us. Savage 2011!
The first race for all of us. Savage 2011!
The muddy group after the Savage Race 2012.
The muddy group after the Savage Race 2012.

I was first introduced to these races in 2011 by a parent of one of my students. I was immediately intrigued as I had never heard of races like these before. Running for exercise was something I had just began and being a very competitive person, I thought I would enjoy participating in races. I had only done one 5K at this point and decided to get a group together and do our first mud race. After signing up for the Savage Race, I was a little regretful of my decision as the day came closer and as I researched exactly what I was getting myself into. While running wasn't the challenge for me, the obstacles were what worried me. I have very little upper body strength many of the obstacles required you to jump over walls and complete monkey bars. I was naively optimistic about the amount of mud I would have to actually go through and I hoped to get through the race with only a little mud splatter.

Whe race day arrived, we had a group of 9 people who were running a mud race for the first time. Our group ranged in age from 25-50 and we all had differing degrees of running and/or training experience. I will admit as we drove up to park and prepare for the race, my stomach was in knots. There were racers already on the course when we arrived as runners go in waves. When I saw "muscle men" already walking the course, the nerves really kicked in. After the first half mile, I was completely covered with mud but my reservations were gone. I did have trouble getting over the taller walls but in every race I have done there has been another racer there willing to lend a helping, muddy hand. In that environment, every participant is not only there to race well but to have fun and that makes for an energetic and good time. From the firing of the starting gun to jumping over fire to cross the finish line I was hooked.

Medals from the mud races I have run.
Medals from the mud races I have run.
5 stars for Mud Races

Why Do a Mud Run?

There are many advantages to participating in a race like this. I honeslty can't think of any disadvantages to participating in these races. Besides being the most fun you can ever have while running, the advantages include:

1. A portion of the entry fee from each race goes to charity. The Tough Mudder, which is considered the hardest of all obstacle course races, has raised roughly 3.7 million dollars for the Wounder Warrior Project.

2. After running in other regular races, you receive water and oranges at the finish line. While these races include those, most also include a free beer with the entry fee. Once you are done running you take your ticket to the beer tent and it is right there waiting for you. I can honestly say alcohol is welcome once all the nerves have calmed down and the aches and pains begin.

3. You cannot get through the race without some form of a scrape, bruise, or cut. While this may sound like a disadvantage, it gives you bragging rights at the office the next week. When your co-workers are talking about their boring weekends doing yard work you can show off your battle wounds and look like a real bad a** to those around you.

4. I will admit I participate in races for many reasons but mainly for the medals and shirts I receive. I love being able to add my medal to my awards board and every one I accumulate is there as a reminder of the race I ran and a memory of the sense of accomplishment I feel crossing the finish line. I proudly wear my shirts when out running errands or preparing for the next race.

5. You can dress in costume and really go all out. Many of the mud races have costume contests as well. It is a lot of fun to get a huge group of people together and dress up. It makes the race that much better.

6. Training for a race is good motivation to keep running and exercising. I find if I am not signed up for a race, it is harder for me to get out there and run. If I know I have a race coming up it pushes me to run more. Training for an obstacle course race is also more than just running. It is a full body work out and if you choose to train beforehand it can help get you in overall better shape.

It is for all the above reasons that I choose to give obstacle course and mud races a 5 star rating. Get out there and try one for yourself. Just google mud races and your city and find the one closest to you. I promise you won't regret it!

The video below was taken at the HighlanderII which was the second mud race I competed in. I can be seen the the bright pink skirt at the times of 2:34, 3:35, and 4:05.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Nice information its very helpful to us, here I see another website like you for obstacle couses and training etc.

    • jenbeach21 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thanks Kerlung. It is a great motivator to get started!

    • kerlund74 profile image


      4 years ago from Sweden

      Might be fun to try this. I am right now not in good shape at all and maybe this could help me get started. Thank you for sharing:)

    • jenbeach21 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thanks Linda! They are a lot of fun.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Way to go Jen! I had a few friends just participate in the Savage Races. I was a good friend and wished them much luck! :) They had a blast.

    • jenbeach21 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      It is definitely messy Deborah but a lot of fun!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      6 years ago from Iowa

      I have friends who do these every year. It always seemed like a lot of fun, albeit a little messy!

    • jenbeach21 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thanks runtrainingplan. They are a lot of fun and definitely worth going out there and competing in!

    • RunTrainingPlan profile image

      Chris Miller 

      6 years ago from Raleigh, North Carolina

      Great hub jenbeach21. I am hoping to compete in my first mud/obstacle course race in the spring. Voted up for interesting.

    • jenbeach21 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thanks teaches. They are a lot of fun to watch and race in!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I imagine this would be fun to run and fun to watch. I haven't heard of these before, but I can see where it would draw many crowds. Thanks for the fun education today.


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