A Look At Extreme Challenges Across The United States

Have you ever leaped through fire, crawled through barbed wire, climbed up a 12’ wall covered in grease or run 12 miles through the mud? These are just a few of the challenges that participants face when competing in some of the United States toughest challenges. Here, we take a look at some of the extreme obstacles of America, each located in various cities around the country. Are you up for the challenge?

Tough Mudder

If the thought of this race reminds you of playful childhood mud fights, think again. The course, designed by British Special Forces, is 10-12 miles of endurance, strength, mental and cooperation challenges. What are some obstacles you should expect? Hills, slip ‘n’ slides, fire, belly-crawling, ropes, monkey-bars, walls, electric shocks, ice water, mud and a lot more. On average, only 78% of participants actually finish the race, which is 3-4 times longer and much more difficult than your typical mud run. In fact, the event is so extreme finishers of the event are rewarded with a voucher for a tattoo of the Tough Mudder logo to be worn as a badge of honor.

[pullquote]The extreme heat and lack of hydration stations early on. I thought I had hydrated properly, but with only one relief station in the first half of the race in 109 degree heat index, I got sapped at mile four.[/pullquote]

Art Thompson, an avid extreme sports enthusiast, signed up for a Tough Mudder challenge in hopes of it reminding him of his time spent in the military. The toughest challenge for him? “The extreme heat and lack of hydration stations early on. I thought I had hydrated properly, but with only one relief station in the first half of the race in 109 degree heat index, I got sapped at mile four.”

After the course is completed participants are rewarded for their hard work with beers, BBQ and live music.

What’s great about this event is not only the competition and free alcohol, but also that money raised is donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps badly injured service men and women.

So, how do people train for the course? If you visit their website, they give you a workout plan you can follow to get in shape. Generally, they suggest you build up to running 5-7 miles about 3-4 times per week. It is also advised to be able to do 15-25 push-ups as well as 6 pull ups in a row and be able to swim 50 yards without stopping. Basically, if you’re not in shape, don’t sign up.

Check out their website at http://toughmudder.com/ to find a Tough Mudder event nearest you. They have courses all over the United States, as well as in Canada, Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

spartan race

Image via cogdogblog

Spartan Race

Ever see Gerard Butler in 300? Well, that’s what you’re going to feel like when you participate in Spartan Race. Depending on what you’re style is, Spartan Race offers different course options, all with unique challenges that require you to use your physical and mental strength, as well as your natural instincts.

Your first option is the Spartan Sprint. This consists of muddy obstacle courses that are 3+ miles long and contain about 10 obstacles. Ninety-nine point nine percent of participants finish this course, and the top three male finalists as well as the top three female finalists will win entry into the Super Spartan course of their choice.

This leads us to your next option, the Super Spartan, which contains more than 15 obstacles and is 8+ miles long. The challenges that await you will be grueling, but luckily, you will be rewarded with live music and free food after the event. The top three male finalists and the top three female finalists will also win free entry into the Spartan Death Race of their choice.

The next level up in the Spartan courses is the Spartan Beast. This course is extremely difficult, spanning 10-12 miles, with the fastest time ever recorded being around three hours. For most it will take much longer, and for even more, the obstacle course will never be completed.

As for the most challenging option, there is the Spartan Death Race. Just the name alone is terrifying. In fact, the course claims to be more challenging than giving birth! Trail races and unexpected obstacles combine with physical and mental challenges to put Spartans to the ultimate test. The course will take participants more than 48 hour to complete, and 90% who try will not finish. One word to describe this course? Insane.

When asked how one would train for a challenge like the Spartan Death Race, Joe Crupi, who participated in the 2011 Death Race in Pittsfield, Vermont, explained his pre-challenge routine. “I started with a marathon training program and crossfit workouts. I also purchased a harness and a wheelbarrow, and would do tire pulls with the harness, and toss sand bags into the wheelbarrow and do 1/4 mile sprints with each, or do several miles with each after workouts. I also took one day where I put some workouts together, and decided to do a no-sleep, exhaustion type day together to mimic the sleep-deprivation aspect of the Death Race.”

[pullquote]It seemed like every new challenge was more difficult than the last. Definitely the hardest was the climb up the mountains with all our gear and logs. The swimming across freezing ponds and chopping wood were cake compared to that. [/pullquote]

Despite this grueling workout plan, after actually participating in the Spartan Death Race, he insists he did not workout as hard as he should have for the challenge. Crupi describes just how difficult he found the course by saying, “It seemed like every new challenge was more difficult than the last. Definitely the hardest was the climb up the mountains with all our gear and logs. The swimming across freezing ponds and chopping wood were cake compared to that. Just the sheer incline, distance, and crappy conditions, along with the incredible weight I ended up carrying, probably over 100 pounds, made the mountain climbs the most miserable parts of the race”.

Visit http://www.spartanrace.com/ for more information and to find a Spartan Race location nearest you.

warrior dash

Image via Kheiligh

Warrior Dash

According to Warrior Dash organizes, this event will be “The Craziest Frickin’ Day of Your Life”. While it is a 5k, it is run over some of the most rugged and unusual terrain in the world. Put on your favorite costume – preferably a viking helmet – and get ready to get muddy as you tackle obstacles such as leaping through fire, scaling cargo nets, rolling over junkyard cards, sprinting though tires, balancing on beams located high in the air, crawling through freezing water caked with mud and more.

While the course is extremely challenging, there is something about going through hell with other people that brings them closer together.

[pullquote]I met a marine named Derrick that not only kept me going through the run but when it came to stuff like the rope barricade he stopped to instruct me. That was so awesome![/pullquote]

Charity Warner Szilagyi participated in her first Warrior Dash in St. Morris, Michigan. She describes how other racers helped her get through the tough obstacles. “I met a marine named Derrick that not only kept me going through the run but when it came to stuff like the rope barricade he stopped to instruct me. That was so awesome!”

Completing the Warrior Dash is not only a physical success, but also a mental one, as mother of two Katy Vaughn Reitz explains. “One thing that I learned from the experience was that I could do these challenging events if I set my mind to it,” she says. “I pushed out all the negative thoughts of ‘You can’t do this, you aren’t good enough!’ Instead I focused on The One that created me & tells me that I can do all things…I also learned that I enjoy doing these types of events and I need to get my butt to the closest gym and make time to work out again!”

And, after the event? Free music, turkey legs and beer for all! Not only that, but for $10 you can purchase your own fuzzy warrior helmet.

In terms of giving back to the community, Warrior Dash does its part by collecting the muddy sneakers of participants and donating them to GreenSneakers, an organization that recycles the footwear to create more affordable shoes for people who need them around the world.

For more information and to sign-up for a Warrior Dash near you, visit http://warriordash.com/.

beach palooza

Image via Beach Palooza

Beach Palooza

Do you love nothing more than relaxing on a beach? Well, then this is not the event for you! This running event, which is held on beaches across the United States, will have participants tackling extreme obstacles while getting their feet wet. Scale fishing nets, run through forests of foam noodles, dive into chilly waters, trudge over quicksand traps, traverse through snake pits filled with beach balls and hurricane-like winds and more. This sandy 5k will give you a beach experience like you’ve never experienced.

Dalia Marquez, who participated in the Chicago Beach Palooza, says that despite beginning a gym workout weeks before the event, she still was not prepared for the intense heat combined with the extreme obstacles and the lack of water for the participants. When asked what she learned from the experience, she replied, “That I need to workout more!”

Don’t worry, though, because after a day spent completing extreme obstacles, participants and spectators are invited free of admission to the after party, the Coast Roast. Live music, drinks, food and games will help you forget how much pain your body is in.

For more information and to sign-up at your nearest Beach Palooza location, visit http://beachpalooza.com/.

2 Comments

  1. I tried the Tough Mudder last year and loved it! It’s definitely something you want to be in shape for. It tests your endurance and limits. Shortly after I ran the Warrior Dash which was more of a fun 5k. Still a great time with friends though!

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