A Look at Obstacle Course Racing

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In the fitness industry, as in any other industry, you're going to have the latest trends or fads, what's hot and what's not. What's motivating the masses to get out there and sweat on a perfectly good Saturday or Sunday when they could be sleeping in? Of course we'll always have marathons and triathlons, but the latest and greatest seem to be obstacle-course racing and team-building events with a whole lot of craziness and good times thrown in. Three of the toughest and most popular are the Spartan Race Series, the Tough Mudder series and the GORUCK Challenge.

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The Spartan Race describes itself as the global leader in obstacle racing since 2005. It was designed by eight insane ultra athletes and a Royal Marine. These obstacle course races are designed to test your resilience, strength, stamina, quick decision-making skills, and ability to laugh in the face of adversity. They have many different race format options you can choose from. You can tackle a Spartan Sprint, a Super Spartan, and maybe even attempt a brutal Spartan Beast. They say only a few will have the heart to graduate up to the Death Race. Having done the Sprint, Super Spartan and the Death Race, I can definitely tell you that you will be challenged while having a great time with a bunch of other crazies. One of the other nice things about the Spartan series is that it offer s something for everyone from the beginner to the truly insane. http://www.spartanrace.com/

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Next up is the Tough Mudder series.  The first Tough Mudder event was on May 2, 2010 at Bear Creek Resort in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Since then, the number of Tough Mudder events has increased exponentially with 14 events in 2011, and 28 events scheduled in 2012. The series was created to test toughness, fitness, strength, stamina and mental grit all in one place and all in one day. Each event consists of a 10 to 12-mile trail run over uneven, hilly, and wet terrain with a mix of 20 to 25 military-style obstacles. Each event is designed to be slightly different and incorporates varying features depending on local terrain. Similar to the Spartan Series which offers the 48-hour Death Race as its ultimate challenge, the Tough Mudder offers the 24-hour World's Toughest Mudder for the top 5 percent who that have qualified or those crazy enough to win a wild card entry. http://toughmudder.com/

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Last but definitely not least is the GORUCK Challenge. Inspired by the most elite training offered to Special Forces soldiers and led by Green Berets, the GORUCK Challenge is a team event and never a race.  The team starts and finishes together under the guidance of a Challenge Cadre.  The route is unknown, the distance is unknown and the challenge can last longer and/or go for greater distances if the team needs it in order to fully become a team. The race is about eight to 10 hours, covering 15 to 20 miles. This is an estimate, not a promise.  Every class is different and each location is different but one thing is always the same: you come away a better person. http://goruckchallenge.com/

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I guess some might consider these events as fads or trends that will fade away, but I'd disagree. I think these events and more like them are here to stay. In this day and age where the most common form of communication is texting, and the most difficult thing many people do in their day is decide between 2 percent milk or soy in their latte, it's nice to see events such as these that allow people to actually communicate face-to-face and experience something truly challenging. There's an old saying that "adversity builds character." If you find yourself lacking in the character arena and could use some adversity in your life, give these events a try. You'll certainly have some fun, most likely make some new friends and you might even learn a little about yourself in the process.

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