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Updated on March 20, 2017

Obstacle races have been testing peoples endurance, strength and dexterity since the late 1980's. The first video recorded event was a Tough Guy race organised by Billy Wilson in 1987 and since then the obstacle race craze has swept the globe with millions of people taking part in thousands of organised races every year.

Below is my top 5 picks for obstacle races in the UK for 2017 and beyond.

5. Bear Grylls Survival Race

Taking place at Trent Park, London at the end of September the Bear Grylls survival race features a 5k, 10k and an epic 30k survival race. Prices start at only £20 early bird offer for the 5k race, £25 for the 10k race and £40 for the 30k race. Like most other races these prices do go up and up the closer to race day it gets. There is also various kids races for ages 4-13 at £15 per child. The 5k course features over 20 obstacles, 35 obstacles for the 10k and a mind blowing 100+ obstacles for the 30k race. Unlike most other obstacle races each Bear Grylls survival race features survival challenges at various intervals throughout the races. These challenges are designed to test your survival skills and must be completed before moving on to the next leg of the race. There is also the Bear Grylls outdoor festival held on both event days from £10 a ticket featuring fitness challenges and activities, animal displays, survival workshops and live music as well as food stalls and bars. The Bear Grylls survival race is a great day out for all the family and the survival challenges add that little something extra to the races. For that reason the Bear Grylls survival race makes it to number 5 on my list of top 5 obstacles race in the UK.

All entrants receive: Finishers T-Shirt, Official Bear Grylls Race medal, free entry to festival, finish line snacks and festival freebies.

4. Rat Race Dirty Weekender

Held at Burghley House in Stamford near Peterborough on the 6th of May, the Rat Race Dirty weekend is an absolute epic of an obstacle race. Claiming to be the worlds biggest obstacle race with the Dirty Double race coming in at 40 miles long and featuring 400 obstacles the Rat Race Dirty Weekend dirty double will test even the most seasoned of obstacle racers. There are other less agonising race options with the full mucker (20 miles, 200 obstacles) and the half mucker (13 miles, 150 obstacles). There are also Young Mucker races for children aged 8-15 which are 3 or 6k long with 20 obstacles. The Rat Race dirty weekender after party is every bit as epic as the races with headliners such as The Hoosiers and Judge Jules. There's an event village and a campsite for those who wish to camp out for the weekend. Prices start from £99 for the races and from £15 for camping. With an effort to raise 1 million pounds for Children With Cancer UK by December 2018 and boasting the longest obstacle race in the world The Rat Race Dirty Weekender is worthy of it's place as number 4 on my list of Top 5 obstacle races in the UK.

All entrants receive: £10 donation to Children With Cancer, Finisher medal, Finishers T-Shirt, snacks at finish line, Entry to after party.

3. Royal Marines Commando Challenge

Based on the actual endurance training course undertaken by real Royal marines Commandos in training, the Royal Marines Commando Challenge takes place over 5 or 10k and will test competitors both physically and mentally featuring the infamous Sheep Dip obstacle that even fully fledged Royal Marine Commandos have nightmares about. Taking place on Woodbury Common near Exmouth on the 14th and 15th of October with prices from £35 for the 5k and £45 for the 10k. Unlike my two previous picks this race doesn't feature children's races or fancy pants after party's but it does give members of the public a rare chance to try out the renowned Royal Marines Obstacle Course and at fairly reasonable prices compared to other races. For these reasons the Royal Marines Commando Challenge makes it to number 3 on my top 5 obstacle races in the UK.

All finishers receive: Royal Marines Commando dog tag medal, Souvenir tin mug

2. Reebok Spartan Race

Reebok Spartan races are held at 6 different locations across the UK between April and October, Sevenoaks in SE London, Windsor, Aston down in Gloucester, Marston Trussell, Edinburgh and The Isle Of Skye. They feature 3 different race types, the Spartan Sprint (5k, 20 obstacles), The Spartan Super (13k, 25 obstacles), and The Spartan Beast (20k, 30 obstacles) as well as a 1.5k children's race for ages 4-13. Prices start from £52 for the Spartan Sprint and £20 for the junior races. The Reebok Spartan Race isn't just limited to the UK and branch's out across Europe and the United States. It features the renowned Spartan Trifecta which is awarded to anyone finishing 1 sprint 1 super and 1 beast race during the calendar year. There are separate endurance events you can take part in including the Agoge, a gruelling 60 hour event taking place on The Isle of Skye from the 18th - 20th August. The Reebok Spartan franchise is truly global featuring large amounts of prize money in competitive events across Europe and the USA as well as the individual events you can enter for fun. For this reason The Reebok Spartan Race is number 2 on my list of top 5 obstacle races in the UK.

All finishers receive: Finishers Medal, Finishers T-Shirt, Free photos, Free Beer, Trifecta Medal Wedge Piece, Racer Headband.

1. Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder is by far the most commercially popular obstacle race in the UK. Hosted at 7 locations in London, Grantham, Thornhill, Skipton, Badminton, Malpas and Faygate between April and September. Tough Mudder features 5 different race types, Tough Mudder Half (5 miles, 13 obstacles), Tough Mudder (10-12 miles, 20 obstacles), Tougher Mudder (10-12 miles, 20 obstacles, competitive version of Tough Mudder and first step into the competitive series), and the Worlds Toughest Mudder (as many laps of a 5 mile 25 obstacle course in 24hrs as possible). There is also a competitive series for serious competitors to get involved in. Prices start from £79 but watch out for promotional prices that pop up here and there. Obstacle races were certainly about before tough mudder sprung up in New York in 2010, British founders Will Dean and Guy Livingstone were inspired by Billy Wilson's Tough Guy races and since the first race in May 2010 in Pennsylvania the Tough Mudder brand has developed into a global company worth an estimated $70 million. Many other obstacle race's have taken inspiration from Tough Mudders innovative obstacle designs and it remains one of the toughest and technical races available. For that reason Tough Mudder makes it to number 1 on my top 5 obstacle races in the UK.

All finishers receive: Finishers T-Shirt, Finishers head band, Free photos, Free Beer.

Other worthwhile mentions

Event name
Total Warrior
Leeds, Lake District, Edinburgh
Color Obstacle Ruch
Monster Race
Rough Runner


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