Obstacle races and mud runs are a rite of passage for fitness enthusiasts. Many see pictures of friends jumping over fire or crawling under barbed wire and want to join in on the fun. Before signing up for an obstacle race or mud run many participants want to know just what obstacles they might encounter in their mud run or obstacle race experience. While each race and event will vary in its offerings here are a few obstacles you can expect to see at any mud run or obstacle race.


Low walls, high walls and everything in between is a staple obstacle at an obstacle race or mud run. Many of the walls are between 4-feet and 10-feet tall. Obstacle racers need to get themselves over the wall either alone (in elite heats) or with the help of others. For women sometimes there is a kicker step to help get over the tall walls. Walls can also be hanging, inverted, slanted, with ropes, or without ropes. The variations of this obstacle are endless.

Barbed Wire – Low Crawl

The barbed wire or low crawl is another staple obstacle for mud runs and obstacle races. While not all events will have you under the barbed wire some will use string or something else but most events will have you crawling in the mud.


The rope climb is normally over water or hay bails or another soft landing. In an obstacle race most of the time there is a bell or beam that needs to be touched at the top of the climb. Some mud runs the ropes have knots while others do not have any.

Cargo Nets

Cargo nets are normally either vertical or in an A-frame style and runners need to climb up and over the obstacle and come down the other side. A tip for those trying this obstacle for the first time, stay close to the edges or bracing for more stability. Races like Spartan Race typically have a cargo net.


Many mud runs have slides mixed into their courses. The slides are normally either large inflatable slides or long adult size slip and slide into a pool or muddy water or muddy pit. Warrior Dash has a signature slide at the end of their races into a muddy pit. Other slides like Rat Race Dirty Weekend have inflatable slides that are several stories high. Either way, a slide is a fun to end a race!


Electroshock Therapy

The most famous race for electricity is Tough Mudder although a few other small races have added an electrified obstacle into their offerings. These obstacles at most events are optional and are discouraged if you have a heart condition..

Carries – Logs or Sandbag

Many races will have participants carrying large objects such as logs, sandbags, or other awkward objects up and around a loop while on the course. At Blizzard Blast they even carry Christmas Trees on the course. These objects normally weigh between 20 and 60 pounds depending on the task. Other objects include buckets filled with gravel, PVC pipes, some races you might even carry a kitchen sink!

Monkey Bars

Monkey bars are a staple obstacle at a mud run or obstacle race. They can either be above dry ground or above water as seen in the picture. This obstacle tests grip strength and mental ability to keep moving forward. The monkey bars can either be in an A-frame or straight across. Some races have the bars roll a little to add even more challenge. Monkey bars have continued to evolve throughout the years and sometimes they include multiple elements like Funky Monkey from Tough Mudder shown above.

Mud Pits

Mud runs and obstacle races almost always have mud. It's in the name and there are normally some sort of mud to traverse through. Whether they are deep trenches, shallow crawl or pits to wade though. Mud is definitely one of the most loved obstacles at a mud run or obstacle race.


Each obstacle race or mud run will have it's own signature obstacles. Part of the fun of obstacle racing is encountering the unknown. Whatever you encounter on race day you will find yourself challenged and feeling like a kid all over again.

Series Navigation<< OCR 101: 5 Things Not to Wear on Race DayOCR 101: How to Clean up After an Obstacle Race or Mud Run >>

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