Which Obstacle Course Race Should You Do?

Rugged Maniac OCR

After constant curiosity, you have finally decided to try OCR.  Now the next question is, “which one do I do?”  My first response is all of them, but at the same time, each obstacle course race offers something different.  I will do my best and sum up a few of the races I have personally done to give you an idea of what to expect.  There are so many more options than the ones presented here. If you would like to add your overview, let us know– we’d love to post it!

1. Rugged Maniac – Feel like a kid again!

What to expect? Fun, mud, more fun, and bouncy obstacles.  Yes, you heard right!!  Bouncy obstacles truly make you feel like a kid again.  The atmosphere and people take a regular Saturday morning and turn it into a muddy good time!   The Rugged Maniac course is a 5k distance, and for the most part very flat. Depending on your ambition, you can sign up for unlimited laps and have at it all day long! 

Levels of Competition: There is one co-ed competitive wave, with awards going to the top 3 male and top 3 female finishers.  Placing in the top three will get you a pretty cool podium finisher medal, some Rugged Maniac bucks, and a free entry into a future race.  The remaining waves are all considered open waves and there are no timing or prizes–just plain old, good fashioned fun.

Penalty for Obstacle Failure: There is no penalty in the Rugged Maniac for a failed obstacle. If you don’t feel you can safely complete an obstacle, you can bypass it and continue the course (with the exception of the competitive wave participants).

2. Terrain Race – Fun, challenging, and interesting. 

What to expect?  The terrain is always fun, maybe a little challenging as in technicality and elevation, but for the most part they use the locale of the races very well in the design of the course.  The obstacles, on the other hand, are interesting and some are very challenging like their multi-rig and Tarzan swing. Some of the other obstacles are awkward and downright different– like sledgehammering a tire out and back or carrying weighted bricks/tires attached to a pole and chains.  No matter what, after you finish one of these you will be yearning to try it again and be better than your first go-round at it.  This course is 5 kilometers in distance, but if you want to sign up for unlimited laps and get some extra bling (aka medals) and see how many laps you can do, that’s an option.   

Levels of Competition – Competitive wave is offered if you keep your band (100% obstacle completion) and podium there are cash prizes. 

Penalty for Obstacle Failure:  For the open wave participants, there is no penalty for a failed obstacle. If you don’t feel you can safely complete an obstacle, you can bypass it and continue the course.  For the competitive waves, an obstacle may be re-tried until you either complete the obstacle or give up. If you give up, you must surrender your competitive wristband to continue on the course.  By losing your wristband, a competitor is no longer eligible for prizes or prize money.

3. Spartan – You’ll know at the finish line.

What to expect? When I think about a Spartan race whether it is the Sprint, Super, or Beast, I think of grit, strength, and sheer determination.  You are probably wondering what the heck do you mean?  Spartan likes to include technical, hilly terrain, heavy carries (such as Herc hoist, sandbag carry, and the infamous bucket brigade) and many other challenging obstacles (Spearman, monkey bars, dunk wall, barbed wire crawl, to name a few).  Spartan’s logo “You’ll know at the finish line” is very much the truth.  No matter the length of these races– your limits will go through a test, and when you finish, it truly is a wondrous feeling.  I believe Spartan is the biggest of all obstacle course race “brands,” which translates to being able to find a Spartan race near you!  

Levels of Competition – Spartan has a wide range of competition levels from the Elite (Pro Class), Competitive (Age Group), or the Open where you can compete individually, with friends, or on a team.  

Penalty for Obstacle Failure: 30 strict burpees for each failed obstacle.  You may not bypass until completion of the obstacle, or completion of 30 burpees.  You get one shot to correctly complete the obstacle (minus a few “no fail” obstacles).  Note: the stadium sprint is slightly different– you must complete only 15 burpees at a stadium sprint.

4. Tough Mudder –  Be Tougher Together.

What to expect?  A fun, challenging course with obstacles that consist of cold water (Arctic Enema, Blockness Monster), mud (mud mile, kiss of mud) and a varying amount of multi-rigs(Funky Monkey, Kong Infinity)  These are just a few.  The one thing about Tough Mudder is that they emphasize teamwork; to help one another out– even if it is a stranger.  Some of their obstacles truly require teamwork to get through, and this brings a fun twist to these events.  Whether you choose the Half, Full, Tougher, or Toughest Mudders to complete, you will be challenged both physically and mentally. 

Levels of Competition – Tougher Mudder and Toughest Mudder are the competitive races,  while the Tough Mudder and Half Mudder are open waves and done (preferably) with a group of friends. Of course, you can obviously still have a grand time by yourself. 

Penalty for Obstacle Failure: In the open waves, there is no penalty.  You may retry obstacles, or skip them altogether.  In the competitive waves,  you must complete all obstacles.  You may retry an obstacle however many times you need to, but if you cannot complete it, you must forfeit your wristband to continue on the course and will not be eligible for prizes or prize money.

There are a ton more obstacle course races that are available to choose, and the options are growing at a rapid pace.  Here’s our current list of obstacle course races.  Pick one, go give it a try, and let us know how much you loved racing!

1 thought on “Which Obstacle Course Race Should You Do?”

  1. I’m finding in the Midwest the ocr fad seems to be coming to an end. Fewer and fewer options available. As of today I see only two races for MN. For the 24 season. Several websites that lead to no information.

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