Below are our personal rankings of the BEST and WORST races we have experienced (that are still in business). The races on these lists are those we have personally run, and more detailed information may be found in our reviews. If you would like us to review one of your races, contact us to have one of our contributors run an event.
- 1. Spartan Race (Beast/Ultra)
- 2. Tough Mudder
- 3. Spartan Race (Sprint/Super)
- 4. Men’s Health Urbanathlon
- 5. Warrior Dash
- 6. Hard Charge
- 7. Mud-Stash
The Vermont Championship in 2012 was one of the most incredible races we have run to date, and there is no way we can keep this on par with the Sprint and Super. This event brings in some of the best racers in the world, and there’s no wonder why: Incredible use of terrain, difficult (though fairly simple) obstacles tailored to elite and everyday competitors alike, and penalties for failing at obstacles make this perfect for athletes looking for a true test. For those not as confident in their abilities, we suggest starting with one of the races below.
Tough Mudder has nearly mastered the art of the obstacle course event. Long courses (11+ miles), incredibly innovative and difficult obstacles, good use of terrain, and more. Obstacles incorporate mentally-challenging aspects that set it apart from any other race in the industry, and the focus on camaraderie make it a great race for almost anyone. The electric shock obstacles are always a topic of conversation: Yes, you get shocked… no, it’s not bad at all.
Tough obstacles, great organization, and incredible camaraderie make this series a must-run on any racer’s calendar. The obstacles are not as impressive as the Tough Mudder, but don’t expect a cake walk by any means. The Indiana Founder’s Race certainly did not disappoint, and we’re looking forward to seeing how the longer races stack up.(Read Reviews)
While the Urbanalthon doesn’t sport as many obstacles as other races, they make up for it in race distance and obstacle quality. Obstacles seriously test your upper body and lower body fitness, leaving you begging to get through them and back to the “easy” task of running.(Read Reviews)
The perfect “everyone can do it” obstacle course race. If you want to bring a bunch of friends, drink beer, and be goofy, you definitely don’t want to miss this race series. Unimaginative and relatively easy obstacles keep this series from being rated higher.(Read Reviews)
Advertised at the first televised obstacle course race, Hard Charge has a small following but is run incredibly well. Sign up for the Charge for Glory waves, where camera crews capture top athletes battling it out on the course, or the Charge for Fun casual race. Championship heats are televised on major networks at a later date. There is no question… this is a RUNNERS’ course: the faster your 5k time, the better you’ll finish. Expect moderate distances between short, rather simple obstacles. This is a great event for runners looking to try out the sport of obstacle racing.(Read Reviews)
This is an all-around fun, well organized race with a great venue and atmosphere. The course is definitely lacking in difficulty but is great for those looking to get into obstacle racing. They had some timing issues during our event, but are definitely learning and improving.
- 1. Chicago Beachathon
- 2. Rebel Race
- 3. 5k Foam Fest
- 4. Mudathlon
If you consider running between tiny plastic flamingos and around giant beach balls an obstacle course, you need to run one of the races in the “Best” column for a reality check. Poor planning also caused a 2-5 minute backup on the final obstacle if you weren’t in the top 10% of finishers.
More difficult than the Warrior Dash with the option of running either a 5k or 15k course. It lacks the organization and atmosphere of the Warrior Dash, and many people’s times were not registered at the finish line. Expect to see this move up in the rankings if the organizers can get their act together.(Read Reviews)
Don’t be fooled: there is still mud in this Foam Fest… which would be more aptly named the 5k Wait Fest. Inflatable obstacles add a nice touch of originality to this race. However, they allow only a few racers at a time to go through and have the tendency to pop, leading to long backups. If they fix the horrible throughput issues, this could really be a well-ranked series.
The Mudathlon series stumbles onto this side of the list mainly due to a lack of originality. While the race organization was great and the post-race amenities were some of the best we’ve experienced (including a medal that doubles as a bottle-opener), the race itself was simply not memorable… obstacles were short, simple and repetitive.