Wading through mud. Dragging 200-pound tires. Crawling under barbed wire. Swimming across freezing-cold ponds, jumping through fire, and throwing spears as far as you can. This is not your typical, steady-as-she-goes 5K fun run.
It’s obstacle-course racing, the masochistic, military-inspired brand of blood-and-guts contest that’s risen from the muck to become America’s fastest-growing sport. Events such as Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and Warrior Dash are tapping into something primal, urging regular dudes out of their comfort zones and onto hilly, obstacle-littered courses to test their strength, endurance, and willpower.
This year, as many as 5 million people will accept the challenge. To be near the front of the pack, you need to train hard and race smart. We enlisted five of the sport’s top athletes to coach you through it, from workouts to race-day tips.
Our Panel of Experts
We rounded up five of the most elite and schooled athletes in obstacle-course racing (OCR)—they’ve run nearly 300 races combined—to share their training tips, obstacle-beating tricks, and (very) hard-won racing advice. Here’s who they are: