Everyone and her mother is talking about mud runs. What's the deal with these races? They're basically an obstacle course meets a muddy 5K or longer. Participation in these and other "Mob" events—which can range from mud runs to zombie chases to tomato fights!—is up 92 percent this year, according to Active.com.
Want in? We've got the nitty-gritty on which ones to sign up for and what you need to know before you go, including...
Friends Have Benefits
You can solo a race, but groups are way better. (A) You'll have more fun. (B) You'll actually have a tactical advantage. "We send stronger teammates up walls or barriers first, and they help everybody else over," says reader Mary F. Anderson, of Bend, Oregon, who was a race virgin until the Tough Mudder.
Yes, There Could Be Fire
And possibly barbed wire. You can skip any challenge that seems loony tunes, but don't sell yourself short. Two-time mud runner Sarah Hill, of Atlanta, told us, "I was nervous about a jump over a fire pit, but flying over the sparks turned out to be empowering. I felt like a million bucks after I conquered it."
You Probably Want to Train
A couch potato could slog through a race, but a little regular exercise helps you actually enjoy it. "I'm not a distance runner, but I do jog, lift weights and do Zumba a few times a week, and my 5K mud-run course felt easy," says reader Julie Gozzo, of Gilroy, California, who nailed the Gladiator Rock'n Run. You have the broad strokes. Click here to get stoked.
Expect the unexpected and sign up for a mob event.