Mud, sweat, friendly competition. Camaraderie, bruises and scrapes to show off, and a t-shirt as a souvenir - these are the things that adventure races and mud runs are made of. These are also the reasons, in part, why such races have skyrocketed in popularity in the past few years.
A Good Cause
Admittedly, paying over $100 for a race where you will likely be shocked sounds a bit insane, yet races like Tough Mudder® are experiencing international success. It helps to know that some of the money collected from these races goes to great causes like the Wounded Warrior Project (Tough Mudder®) or Bright Pink® breast cancer research (Dirty Girl Run®).
Obstacling is not a word…YET. But it should be:
Obstacling: (verb). To participate in an obstacle course race, which may include running, walking, swimming, crawling, squatting, climbing, jumping, balancing, lifting heavy objects, assisting other race participants, and potential exposure to elements such as extreme heat, cold, electric shock, excessive mud, and inclement weather. Obstacling requires a lengthy Assumption of Risk and Liability Waiver to be signed by the participant in order to participate.
Okay, so perhaps you were just talked out of an obstacle course race due to the above definition. Oops. So what are the benefits of running an obstacle course? The list is long, and if you haven’t tried one yet, you may be persuaded to after you read on!
Most obstacle course races are at least 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles. Spartan Race®, Warrior Dash®, and the Dirty Girl Run®, to name a few, boast of 15+ obstacles in a reasonably short adventure race.
If you’re of the competitive type and a runner, you can sign up for the first wave and go for time, but if it’s fun and camaraderie you’re after, you stick with your team (ideally) and help each other at a pace where you can breathe, hold a conversation, and even laugh.
It’s fun, and most people will attempt their first obstacle race in a 5K event. Although the race is short, it is still 3.1 miles and no small feat for many. One must train for the 3.1 mile distance covered. Therefore, a 5K training program or a personal trainer may be a good way to progress towards the cardiovascular endurance required.
Team names, team t-shirts, training together, logging miles together for practice, waking each other up at 5AM to get a run in before work - that’s what makes a friendship deep, right? Together you work, and suffer, and strive towards a common and meaningful goal.
When you work together and experience something new, you create a lasting bond. You will treasure the memories of the team experience - all the good, dirty, and smelly. The times you shared your water bottle or measly sustenance, all the humid runs, the runs where you were caught in the rain, the hills, the falls - they will be seared into your memories as only tough and trying physical activity can do.
You will celebrate personal bests and increased fitness. You'll enjoy better fitting clothes, new running shoes, share cool new running apps, and the best ear buds. Teams make it fun, and teams make you better.
During the race a team means you have help, if needed. You have a boost over a wall. You have someone to cheer you on and encourage you when you feel weak or break down. You have someone who may even carry you. At the end you may share a frosty beverage together. Maybe you win, and maybe you’re last. It hardly matters. What matters is you did it together, and you had fun, and the journey made you a better person.
Obstacles - A Metaphor for Life
Obstacles are a Metaphor for Life. In life, we all experience obstacles to our goals. Are they insurmountable? Do we give up? Do we let them stop us from accomplishing what we want? Or do we see them as a challenge to "problem solve?" We can go over, under, around, or chose to experience obstacles and go through them.
The journey is clearly your choice, but experiencing the obstacle and going through it is no doubt a huge confidence builder. Facing your fear and becoming “obstacle immune” means you are getting out of your comfort zone. You probably hate how you feel and would do anything to avoid it, but here you are, doing it. What a rush of confidence!
The obstacle is overcome, you feel amazing thanks to the adrenaline rush, and "awesomeness" floods your body. Swag on! The best part is the next time you experience an obstacle you'll recall how you overcame something that seemed insurmountable before. You will have newfound confidence in your ability to accomplish what you want. Obstacle immunity kicks in, and you become, of course, an inspiration to others.
And the list goes on. But it’s really about the journey and making yourself better. What “better” means to you is really for you to decide, but being physically fit and becoming more confident is pretty much on most people’s “TO DO” list. Here’s hoping you’ve been persuaded to give an obstacle course race a try, and in doing so, change your life for the better.