If you're bored of Tough Mudder, these are the adventure races for you.
Are you bored of everyone talking about Tough Mudder? Maybe you’re an adventure racing fitness-hipster who doesn’t want to tread the same path as everyone else or, who knows, maybe you’ve already taken the best that Tough Mudder could throw at you and you’re looking for a fresh challenge? Whatever your reason for looking, we’re here to help. These, right here, are the most hardcore and full-on Tough Mudder alternatives in the world of obstacle coursing and adventure racing.
The Tuff Enuff events are so tough that if you ever looked one of them in the eye and condescendingly pointed out to them that they’d misspelt the word “tough”….well…let’s just say it wouldn’t end well (because they’re really really tough).
The Tuff Enuff events are extreme obstacle course races, designed by military experts. If that makes the events sound rather frightening, it’s because the events are rather frightening. The courses are built to test your stamina, strength, fitness and courage. Cowards…need not apply.
The Tuff Enuff website gives you two options, in regards to their races: “…you can choose to compete or complete – it’s up to you.” Blimey.
2) Men’s Health Survival Of The Fittest
As event hashtags go, this one is pretty intense. Are you a survivor? Are you capable of surviving? Are you capable of surviving whatever this hardcore obstacle course throws at you? The hashtag for this event, organised by fitness magazine Men’s Health, throws down a gauntlet in the most direct way imaginable. It doesn’t dilly-dally around the subject. It just gets straight to the point. Will you answer the call?
Survival Of The Fittest claims to be the world’s biggest urban obstacle course. Every year it tours the major UK cities, offering participants the chance to compete on 5km, 10km, and half marathon courses. Each event is jam-packed with at least 50 obstacles, meaning you’ll have plenty of gnarly challenges to get your teeth into.
3) The Spartan Death Race
The Spartan Death Race is one of those big-shot international events that comes with a frightening reputation. Sometimes things that come with a frightening reputation fail to live up to the hype, and end up being a bit of a damp squib. The Spartan Death Race is not one of those things. It is considered to be one of the most relentlessly brutal obstacle course events in the world, and with good reason.
Every single one of the challenging obstacles you will face comes with a caveat. Participants who failure to complete an obstacle, or who refuse to attempt one full stop, are punished with enforced burpees (30, to be precise). The fact that some of these obstacles have scary names like ‘Fire Jump’ and ‘Barbed Wire Crawl’ probably tells you everything you need to know about The Spartan Death Race. Brutal stuff.
4) The Wolf Run
Woods. Obstacles. Lakes. Fields. W.O.L.F. The Wolf Run is running, but with a wild twist. This event claims to be a unique combination of mud runs, trail runs and obstacle runs. It’s a gut-busting 10km run across natural terrain, including open ground, woodland, lakes and thick mud.
Not afraid of wrapping themselves up in the mythology of the wolf, the event’s website tells potential competitors that they’re allowed to run “in a pack, or as a lone wolf…”
Some of the obstacles are man-made and some of them are natural; everything, however, is designed to test both your mental and physical strength, as well as your stamina and skill. This hardcore event requires participants to be genuinely multi-skilled. Running, climbing, jumping, wading, crawling, and swimming; it’s all going on. The challenges are extremely varied and will push adventure racers to their absolute limits.
5) HellRunner Events
Any event that claims on its website to be “TOUGHER THAN TOUGH MUDDER,” deserves your immediate attention. And so, without further ado, please divert your attention to Longmoor Camp – home of the legendary HellRunner event.
Obstacle course enthusiasts and adventure racers alike can, if they decide to take on this particular version of hell, expect a wet and wild mixture of difficult hills and bone-shaking water features. This is an endurance challenge with a devilish twist. Welcome to Hell!
6) The Monster Race
Monstrous by name, by nature. The Monster Race events don’t mess about. They’re hiding under your bed, hiding in the cupboard, collecting up your screams at the scream factory and converting it into electric energy (if you’ve never seen Monsters Inc, this last sentence will make little to no sense).
The obstacles here have names like ‘Meatgrinder’, ‘Bog of Eternal Stench’, and ‘Toilet Seat’. If you like nice walks in the park, or planting daffodils in your back garden while listening to Radio 4, you’ve come to the wrong place. The organisers have gained a reputation for throwing a nice event but, whichever way you spin it, the obstacles involved here are hardly the dictionary definition of the word “nice.”
7) The Warrior Dash
The Warrior Dash is an international event that has had over two million participants since 2009. The organisers claim to have reinvented the concept of a 5km run and, in doing so, revolutionised the world of obstacle courses and adventure racing. The event is targeted at total beginners and elite athletes simultaneously.
Participants wade across wooded lakes and venture down mud-caked background; along the way they’ll encounter 12 top-level obstacles. Finishers are rewarded for their efforts with a medal (which is also a bottle opener and magnet), a cool t-shirt, a viking warrior helmet and, perhaps most importantly of all, an ice cold beer.
If you’re feeling up to it, there’s also a banging after-party for all Warrior Dash competitors. Dance the aches right out of your legs, while listening to live music, and celebrate the mud-filled existence that is your adventure racing life.
8) Tough Guy
For many adventure racers and obstacle course enthusiasts, Tough Guy is still the king of the hill. It was founded in 1987 and has been beating the living heck out of participants ever since. The website is nuts. The course is nuts. The obstacles are nuts. It’s all just nuts.
Event organisers encourage you to take on Tough Guy on the last Sunday in January as this is when the weather is at its most nut-freezing. This is an event that’s all about fear, and the process of summoning up courage to conquer those fears. Your fear of height, your fear of tight spaces, your fear of going underwater and getting electrocuted; your fear of death. There are a whopping 250 manmade obstacles at the Tough Guy events, and only the world’s very toughest are able to do them all.
Bring on the madness! Bring on the Tough Guy!
9) X-Runner Extreme Obstacle Race
The X-Runner organisers claim to be the UK’s number one adventure sport specialists. If their website is to be believed, the event is so much more than your bog-standard cross country run or obstacle course race. Yes, there are some recognisable obstacles but X-Runner is clearly going for more of an adult’s adventure playground vibe.
The Winter Warrior is one of the most popular X-Run events. It includes obstacles with names like ‘Cresta Run eXtreme’, ‘Avalanche’, ‘Fire Starter’ and ‘Human Cannon Ball’. Live x-treme, race x-treme, and get your hands on one of the finishers medal (preferably by finishing the race yourself, not by stealing it off a tired and bruised competitor).
10) Total Warrior
There’s a common thread that runs through the organisational and promotional sides of obstacle course events. This thread paints obstacle course enthusiasts as 21st century warriors who ditch the comforts of modern living in favour of getting beaten and bruised in a muddy field. Whether’s its the event website’s descriptive text, or in the title of the event itself, these things love to play on the idea of courageous people tackling brutal combat head on.
Total Warrior is no exception to this pattern. Hint: the event is called Total Warrior (ipso facto, our point is proved). Total Warrior claims to offer the toughest range of 10km to 10 mile events on earth. That’s quite a statement so maybe you should head down to one of their events and see if you’ve got the physical and mental strength to handle it. Am I right?!
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