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7 reasons to run an obstacle race

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

In the last few years, events like Tough Mudder, the Reebok Spartan Race and Tough Guy have gone from strength to strength.

This style of exercise first came on the scene in 1987 when Tough Guy began on a farm in Staffordshire. However, it's only recently there have become more and more of these type of races to choose from. For example, when the Spartan Race began in 2010, it attracted only 1,000 entrants. It now holds over 130 events in 17 different countries with more than 900,000 participants.

So why are they so popular and are you tough enough to take on the mud, water and anything else they decide to throw at you?

Going from strength to strength

"Obstacle course challenges such as Tough Mudder have experienced explosive growth in recent years," says Sarah Harvey, senior vice president of the hardcore military-style obstacle courses.

The courses are popping up all over the place, with a wide variety of races that cater for all fitness levels. Many of the races strongly encourage team entries, allowing entrants to draw on the support of friends when the going gets tough.

"There's a real sense of community," says CrossFitter, obstacle racer, snowboarder and fitness enthusiast Dan Krueger from Spartan Race. "People are always willing to help you through obstacles."

Feel ready to take on the challenge yet? Here are seven reasons why everyone should try an obstacle race:

1. Camaraderie

Bucket loads of it. You'll find yourself being hauled over a giant wall by someone you've never met before and reassuringly given a helping hand out of water so cold that the ice cuts into your legs.

"You can expect a community of people helping you on various obstacles and just running along with you to keep you company," says Dan.

2. Everyone's a winner

While marathons are often about meeting goals, they're also about your finish time and beating other participants to the finish line. But in obstacle races it's the taking part that counts. These events are not about your finishing time or any other competitive factors.

"It's about taking on and completing a true challenge that's both mentally and physically trying, but also fun and something you can do with a team," says Sarah. It's not timed, which means that there are no winners and, more importantly, there are no losers.

3. Sense of achievement

To be able to say you've scrambled your way over army-style obstacles, waded through freezing cold water and run anything from 3 miles to a marathon, all before lunchtime, is quite an achievement.

"Races like Tough Mudder are a great way for people to do something they've never done before, while travelling to new places and meeting great people along the way. We bet it's not something you'll participate in once and cross off your bucket list either," says Sarah.

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