Do an obstacle race: Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash

Call me Spartan Martin. These past couple years I’ve participated in the Spartan Race near Toronto, Ontario. A 5 km+ race, the course involves 15+ obstacles of mud, blood and barbed wire. With 50 Spartan Races held around the world, odds are you’ll find one in your own backyard.

Here’s a little taste of the fun:


The obstacles range from course-to-course. Some of the ones I’ve encountered so far include:

  • Running through walls of thick smoke
  • Racing up and down a steep bluff carrying a tire
  • Tramping through a muddy lake carrying buckets of water
  • Crawling on your belly through pits of mud under low-hanging barbed wire
  • Climbing over walls and up ropes
  • Hurling Spartan spears at targets
  • Doing your best not to ogle the fit, sexy, muddy women running past you
  • Dragging rocks on the end of chains
  • Scurrying through culverts
  • And running. Lots and lots of running.

One obstacle from the 2011 race deserves particular mention. It involved crawling beneath yet another stretch of barbed wire. However, instead of mud, this pit was filled with ice. As I shimmied my way through the frigid obstacle, volunteers surrounding the pit encouraged me on by dumping shovelfuls of ice on your head. Invigorating.

I didn’t get to do the ice crawl this year. Apparently people were getting too cut up in the earlier heats from the barbed wire so they decided to remove it. Probably a good call. I came for glory, not hepatitis.

The Finish Line

Two burly Spartans carrying giant padded jousting sticks (the type you see in American Gladiators) waited for us at the finish line. These sadistic volunteers spent the entire day beating the crap out of racers. It was awesome. I managed to slip by unscathed but many did not.

My friend Rob finished well before I did so I didn’t see his finish but he told me how it went. He got by the two Spartans and was just about to cross the finish line. The disappointed Spartans and a blood-thirsty crowd booed Rob for getting by. Like a true warrior (and sucker for peer pressure), Rob turned back. “FOR SPARTA!” he bellowed, rushing toward them.

The Spartans had better luck with Rob the second time around and gave him a good beat down. Still, you gotta respect a move like that.

I finished the races covered in mud, blood and sweat. I loved every minute of it.

And let me be clear here: I’m no athlete. I walked a good portion of the course and went at my own pace. That’s the cool thing about these races: just crossing the finish line at all is reward enough.

Get off the couch

The Spartan Race website encourages people to “get off the couch and start living.” A great message. Life is short and it’s filled with a whole lot of awesome. When I’m on my deathbed I’m not going to be looking back wishing I’d spent more time on the couch.

Obstacle racing is becoming very popular. Other popular ones (that I haven’t tried) include the Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash. Fun, active, awesome. Get out there!

Backyard Badge - Things to do close to homeThe Backyard Badge celebrates creativity, imagination and finding adventure close to home. Share your own awesome experiences by visiting the Submissions Section. Or add your stories, photos and videos to the Badge of Awesome Facebook Page.

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Josh is the creative force behind Badge of Awesome, where he noodles and doodles about life and the lessons learned from it. He's the author of Simply Blunderful and creator of The Overcoming Obstacles Toolkit.

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