7 Obstacle Course Races to Add to Your Bucket List (2024)

These unique races take your runs to the next level.

By Matt B. Davis
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If you’re ready for a new adventure with your running, then it’s time to add some obstacle course races to your calendar. Obstacle course races call upon your agility, speed, strength, and ability to problem solve.

While more often than not, you’ll be rolling in the mud at some point, the fun is getting back up—again and again—only to meet another challenge! So even if you finish the race wearing more mud than sunscreen, in these races, that’s the name of the game. Go ahead and let your American Ninja Warrior spirit come out to play!

Scroll though to find some fun obstacle course events to add to your calendar in 2024,

Spartan Race

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Spartan leads the world in number of events by far, hosting races in 30 countries.

Since the beginning, they’ve had some basic race formats: Sprint (5K, with about 20 obstacles—now they have an urban and stadium option), Super (10K, with about 25 obstacles), and Beast (about 13 miles, with about 30 obstacles). Their Ultra is a 50K with a crazy 60 obstacles.

Spartan Races use the venue and terrain as mystery obstacles. The race directors won’t hesitate to make a gnarly bushwhack situation through the side of a mountain part of the course.

Like most race series, the first heats of the day are for those competing for cash and prizes. However, at Spartan, even the everyday “open wavers” are asked to complete all obstacles. Failure requires a penalty of 30 burpees.

Tough Mudder

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At the very beginning of the obstacle race trend, Tough Mudder was “probably the toughest race on the planet.” Courses were 10 to 12 muddy miles long. Its start-line pledge included phrases like, “not a race, but a challenge” and promises that each runner would “put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.” Mudders wore that pledge like a badge of honor.

Most of that still holds true today. But there have been some changes along the way. There’s now the Tough Mudder 15K which is just over 9 miles and the Tough Mudder 5K. These “newbie versions” still give the wow factor of the original, with obstacles like Block Ness Monster and Everest.

Tough Mudder has also doubled down on the competitive side, including timed waves for their longer events and 12-hour endurance competitions.

BoneFrog Challenge

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BoneFrog was started in 2012 by Navy SEALs in Massachusetts, and has been growing ever since. (It’s not to be confused with BattleFrog, which was also started by Navy SEALs, but was gone by 2016.)

BoneFrog is not shy about the number or difficulty of obstacles on their course. They proudly boast, “The course will test everyone and leave no one unscathed. You will get muddy. You will get beat up. You will be exhausted. But you will finish.”

As a special touch, BoneFrog honors veterans during the race, not just writing a tagline on a website or claiming to donate proceeds. At most venues, when participants reach the top of a large hill, they write the name of a loved one who passed away—whether they were in the military or not—on a wall.

BoneFrog also offers unique distance varieties on the same day, including three-mile, six-mile, and nine-mile options, as well as an endurance option, which just means as many laps as possible.

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Savage Race

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Savage Race began in 2011, the heyday of obstacle races. In January of that year, construction business owner Sam Abbitt and his friend Lloyd Parker invested their own time and money in the concept. By late summer, they had a race with 2,000 participants.

In March of 2012, they did it again, with twice the number of participants—and they were off and running.

At first, Savage could be called a “Six-Mile Tough Mudder,” as many of the obstacles were similar in scope and execution. Their answer to Tough Mudder’s “Everest” is called “Colossus,” and their “Arctic Enema” ice bath, the “Shriveled Richard.”

You don’t need to be an expert to partake in the event. As with most obstacle races, beginners can run later in the day and at their own pace. Plus, any fail is no big deal—just dust or dry yourself off and try again.

Rugged Maniac

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Many became aware of Rugged, which began back in 2010, when the owners went on Shark Tank in 2014 and received funding from Mark Cuban. Rugged produces fun event over its 5K course, which is more in the vein of Wipeout than American Ninja Warrior.

And the fun isn’t over once you cross the finish line. Rugged Maniac puts serious effort into postrace festivities, featuring DJs, free photos, and beer.

Muddy Princess

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Muddy Princess is designed as a fun 5K for women only. You won’t find a focus on times or place in these races, but rather just a fun girl’s day out! Little princesses can participate too.

With 18 to 20 obstacles in the race, you will have your share of work cut out for you! Muddy Princess has locations all around the United States, so there is sure to be one near you.

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Muddy Kids

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It might be called the Muddy Kids, but these 5K races are meant for the whole family to get a little muddy and have fun together. (Kids just need to be between the ages of 5 and 15).

What better way to create lasting memories together!

7 Obstacle Course Races to Add to Your Bucket List (2024)

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