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12 Obstacle Course Races (OCRs) for Beginners

18 Feb 2015

The obstacle racing season has already started in some parts of the U.S. If you live in Florida, Texas, and other warm states, you may have already done one at least once.

If you are a beginner looking for your first race or a veteran seeking your first challenge of the season, check out these races.

Spartan Sprint

No two Spartan races are alike, but there’s usually something for all fitness levels in a sprint. They can range anywhere from 3-5+ miles with 20+ obstacles.

If you are looking for something on the shorter side that emphasizes obstacles, consider a stadium sprint. They’re usually around 2 miles with about the same number of obstacles as a trail sprint. Several ballparks, including Fenway, Citi Field, and Citizen’s Bank, host a stadium sprint.

Overall, more than 50 sprints are planned on U.S. soil in 2015, and scores more will be held in more than a dozen countries worldwide.

Urban Mudder

New this year, Tough Mudder is launching a 5-mile obstacle challenge in the city.

Urban Mudder will first land in New York, and by the time 2015 comes to a close, several more cities will host the event. At roughly 5 miles with 12-15 obstacles, Urban Mudder is about half the length of a standard Tough Mudder.

Keep an eye out for events near you.

Warrior Dash

So far, Warrior Dash has more than 25 U.S. events planned in 2015. A 5k with 12 obstacles, it’s a great option for beginners, particularly if you are looking to just dip your feet in OCRs.

The more advanced can take their chances at qualifying for the Warrior Dash World Championship in Tennessee this October. A total cash purse of $100,000 will be awarded.

Something to look forward to at the finish line: Rockin’ Refuel, Warrior Dash’s official protein beverage (you know, along with a free beer or two).

Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac is an excellent series that has something for beginners and seasoned obstacle athletes.

With up to 24 obstacles over a 5k-course, their events have twice as many obstacles than many 5k-length races.

Rugged Maniac also has the highest percentage of female runners than other leading co-ed OCRs. They know how to target everyone!

In 2015, more than 20 events are planned so far in the U.S. and one in Canada. There may be one close to you, so be sure to check it out!

GoRuck – Kill That 5k

This year, GORUCK, launched Kill That 5k.

GORUCK is a unique series that does more than host close-knit events. A company with the main goal of getting more folks rucking, GORUCK also bridges the gap between civilians and military. More about that later.

Kill That 5k is a essentially a 5k-length rucking challenge because, as we all learned from obstacle racing, the typical 5k is boring for a lot of us. You’re running while holding a weighted rucksack, making the run more challenging.

The first event was held in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and several more are in the works for 2015. Obstacle Racing Media posted a review on the inaugural Kill That 5 event on the ORM site.


Yes, GORUCK appears twice on this list. Introduced in 2014, the GORUCK Light is a 7-10 mile challenge completed under the guidance of a cadre.

Light is a very team-oriented, close-knit challenge as each event is typically capped around 30 participants.

On GORUCK’s website, they say, “if you can do a mud-run or a 5k, you can do Light.” So it’s appropriate for beginners, and anyone looking for a change of pace from the more traditional obstacle run.

Battlefrog (Bullfrog) 5k

Battlefrog hit the OCR scene last year with aggressive plans for growth. Offering a race type for just about any age and fitness level, the Battlefrog Series is a Navy SEAL inspired and developed challenge.

Several 5k-length — known as Bullfrog — events are planned this year, open to those 13 years of age and older. The Bullfrog run has at least 15 obstacles.

And if you’re a competitive obstacle racer, you can bring home some change if you’re among the top finishers. In 2015, Battlefrog plans to award $1 million in total cash prizes.

Civilian Military Combine

Want CrossFit, running, and obstacle racing? The Civilian Military Combine (CMC) may be right for you.

It’s a 3-7 mile challenge with The Pit, an area with CrossFit-type challenges. If you like CrossFit, this OCR will pique your interest.

If you’ve never done an obstacle race and have no experience with CrossFit, you may want to try some of the others on the list first and/or try CrossFit for a few months first. Then level up to CMC.

ROC Race/Wipeout Run

Now called the Wipeout Run, the original Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge is an obstacle race featuring challenges reminiscent of it’s namesake show.

It’s not a competitive race, just a fun, non-intimidating run with inflatables for obstacles.

If you’ve enjoyed watching Wipeout or if you aren’t sure yet about trying a more traditional OCR, consider this one. And if you liked the former Foam Fest, then the Wipeout Run may be your cup of tea.

Women-only OCRs

The next few series target women-only.

Diva Dash

The Diva Dash is a 5k-length obstacle run with about 10-12 obstacles.

It’s fun, entry-level, and ideal for ladies who don’t want to submerge themselves in mud.

So far, Shape magazine has 5 cities planned to host the Diva Dash in 2015.

Lozilu Mud Run

Another 5k-length run for women, Lozilu Mud Run is a muddier trek than the Diva Dash. There are several obstacles typical of what you’d see in most mud runs and OCRs with walls, mud pits, cargo nets, etc.

More than 20 events are planned so far for 2015.


A 5 to 7-mile challenge with more than a dozen challenges, Mudderella can been considered a women-only Tough Mudder challenge, and rightfully so considering its roots as it was started by a T.M. executive.

Aimed at empowering women, Mudderella has planned at least a dozen events for 2015.

If you’re thinking about it, but the race length concerns you as a beginner, have no fear. Mudderella offers a lot of training and workout tips right on their website.

So there you have 12 OCRs to get your season started, if it hasn’t already!



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4 thoughts on “12 Obstacle Course Races (OCRs) for Beginners

  1. Thanks, Sean! Yes, the Insane Inflatable 5k is another race good for beginners.

  2. Looks like a fun-filled 5k for a good cause! Thanks for the addition.

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