From Tough Mudder to Zombie Survival Dash: The Craziest Races Out There

Training for a fun run may be just what you need to escape a boring workout rut

If you love to run but get bored easily, consider training for a new kind of race. Designed to be so much fun that you forget you're exercising, fun runs like the Spartan Race or Glow Run have skyrocketed in popularity. Some are hard core, like the Tough Mudder, but others, like the Color Run, are low-key and perfect for newbies.  Check out our guide to find the race that’s best for your fitness level.

Tough Mudder: 10-12 Mile Obstacle and Mud Run

Tough Mudder Race

Tough Mudder

How it works: This run is filled with obstacles, which are different at each event. The courses are designed by the British Special Forces, Britain’s military equivalent of the U.S. Navy SEALs. Their training is as intense as it gets. Runners take on several obstacles that require climbing, crawling, and plenty of endurance. Most obstacles are done in the mud, hence the name Tough Mudder.

The craziest thing you’ll have to do: No two courses are alike. In one run, a fire walk obstacle includes a section called the “Electric Eel” which has live wires, so prepare for shocks. There’s also an “Arctic Enema,” which requires runners to swim through an ice bath.

How to train: Tough Mudder offers training bootcamps on its site to prepare participants. Even if you’re fit, you’ll want to start serious training a few months before an event. Combine  resistance training with cardio for best results.

The Tough Mudder has gotten a lot of attention as a high-risk event since a 28-year-old Maryland man died after participating last month. Avishek Sengupta, of Ellicot City, Maryland, died a day after he was submerged too long in a pool. Heart attacks, hypothermia and orthopedic or head injuries have also been reported at Tough Mudder events. About 750,000 people have participated in the Tough Mudder since it began in 2010. Sengupta’s was the first reported death.

Tough Mudder organizers say these events are challenging, but generally safe. Participants need to be sure they are fit enough to participate and should consider getting a medical checkup before signing up.

Similar races: The Warrior Dash, The Spartan Race, and Rugged Maniac

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The Color Run: 5K

The Color Run Race

The Color Run

How it works: An un-timed race, participants run or walk the 3.1 mile course and are splashed with color powder at every kilometer. Runners start the race in all white and end covered in a bunch of colors.

The craziest thing you’ll have to do: The finish area is a giant color party. Every few minutes, the emcee calls out a countdown and participants have a huge color toss. Powder flies in the air and everyone ends up in a cloud of colors. To see what it’s like, watch this recap.

How to train: The event is un-timed and participants can take as long as they need to run, jog, or walk the route. The event is friendly to any fitness level. But if you want to run at a competitive pace, consider following a formal 5K training regimen.

Similar races: Color Me Rad, Color Vibe

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The Glow Run: 5K

The Glow Run Race

The Glow Run/Graham Green

How it works: An un-timed 5K that starts after dark, the race route is covered in black lights and runners are asked to wear as many glow-in-the-dark items (think glow sticks, bracelets, neon-painted shirts, etc.) as possible. Participants can run or walk the 3.1-mile course while a DJ plays music to keep everyone pumped.

The craziest thing you’ll have to do: This race is all about being bright and in your face. Some runners form teams to go after the “glowiest” award. Others compete to see how many glow stick accessories they can wear while running.

How to train: The Glow Run is no longer timed and all speeds are welcome. But if you want to work on your cardio stamina, follow this training plan and look for apps, like Couch to 5K, that will help you meet your goal.

Similar races: Glow-in-the-Dark 5K, Glow Rush

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Run for Your Lives: 5K

Run for Your Lives Race

Run for Your Lives

How it works: While you navigate obstacles like climbing walls, smokehouses, and mazes, you’re being chased by characters dressed as ghoulish zombies trying to capture your two flags. If they get both of your flags, you’ll become a zombie, too.

The craziest thing you’ll have to do
: Obstacles include a blood pit that looks freakish but is actually just water dyed blood red.

How to train: Combine strength training with plenty of cardio work. Try this Strength Training Without Weights Workout. You should also follow a 5K training program.

Similar races: Zombie Survival Dash

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The 5K Foam Fest: 5K Obstacle Run

5K Foam Fest Race

5K Foam Fest

How it works: The Foam Fest is a combination obstacle run, mud, run, teamwork run, and fun run. There are also inflatables and lots of foam. The 5K course is filled with obstacles, so expect to do mud crawls, conquer spider webs, and climb up walls.

The craziest thing you’ll have to do: Among the most unique obstacles are the “Death Drop,” a huge inflatable slide, the “Aqua Lily Pads,” a tricky path over a lake, or the “50 Foot Slip-N-Slide,” a steep ride in the foam.

How to train: The race is designed with fun in mind and participants can take as long as they need. Cardio and resistance training along with a 5K training plan will be great preparation for the day.

Similar races: Pretty Muddy, Survivor Mud Run

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