Best Mud Runs and Obstacle Races
Yep, that’s me, covered in mud, cold water, and dirt, reminding myself that I paid to do this. But you know what? It was worth every penny! Everyone loves having a goal to smash, and having a blast with friends, right? That’s what happens when you sign up for an Alabama Obstacle Race. If you’re reading this and looking for any motivation to get in better health, obstacle races are a great motivator to get back in the gym. I made it a goal to complete a Spartan Race in 2018 after I injured my back in February. It helped motivate me to get into a better routine of healthy eating, strength workouts, running, and other conditioning work. I finished this race and immediately thought: when’s the next one? That’s why I wrote this article. I wanted to find races that were close by, economical, and supported local communities. Check out this list of Alabama’s 6 Best Obstacle races.
Important tips for you before you sign up:
Get outdoors and run
Even if you can’t run for very long and need to take breaks and walk, that’s OK. These events are outdoors in nature. If your feet and ankles aren’t used to hitting gravel, rocks, roots and mud, you won’t be able to run fast or far and may risk getting injured.
Invest in good trail running shoes
You’ll want shoes that have a stable base and rock plates that will prevent sticks, rocks and other objects from piercing the sole of the shoe. They will also do a better job of keeping you upright on slick surfaces than normal running shoes. There are a lot of great brands out there so get to your favorite running store and try some on.
Hydration is key
Avoid cramps and exhaustion. Eat normally and drink plenty of fluids in the week before race day. On the morning of the race, make sure you get 16 oz of water as soon as you wake up (2-3 hours before the race). You’ll want to avoid drinking a lot right before the race starts, though, and you should avoid foods that you typically don’t eat to avoid stomach distress.
Train for it
Strength and Conditioning is an important aspect of preparing yourself for what you will be doing. You’ll want to improve your grip strength, sure, but a well-rounded program will improve your success rate at nailing all the obstacles. Your back, shoulders, and core are all important, but make sure you work your glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads and calves. Never skip leg day!
Whether you are racing with a team, or a friend, or by yourself, make sure you can stay accountable to your goals. Find a gym partner that can train with you, or a class you can take at a gym that will help you with your goals. Then show up; over and over. And on race day, show out.
1. Braveheart Challenge
February 16, 2019
Oak Mountain State Park
200 Terrace Park Drive
Pelham, AL 35124
- Birmingham’s only (and newest) Obstacle Race is a 6+ mile trail race through Oak Mountain State Park, featuring more than 15 obstacles. It promises to challenge your speed, strength, and stamina. Challenge others or yourself with competitive and open heats. Teams are welcome. Prizes are awarded to the top 3 male and top 3 female competitive racers who complete all obstacles.
Editor’s Note: Prepare for hills, climbing, and some elevation change along this Oak Mountain trail. February tends to be on the cold side, so you may want to layer your athletic clothing to stay warm.
Click here to learn more info on the Braveheart Challenge.
2. Bonefrog Challenge
March 23, 2019
3366 Speedway Blvd.
Talladega, AL 35160
- Like most obstacle course races, you can expect a challenge. So, what happens when a group of Navy Seals creates an Obstacle Course Race? You get Bonefrog. The Bonefrog team builds their courses with an obstacle every quarter-mile (or so), so running ability alone will not get you through – you must be functionally fit to succeed. The course at Talladega looks intense! Individuals and teams are welcome here, and families are encouraged to attend – spectators can watch for free here! There’s even a kid’s area with scaled down obstacles that they can play on all day.
Editor’s Note: There are a lot of discounts available right now on their website. Take advantage of the lower price points now!
Click here to learn more about the Bonefrog Challenge.
3. Panther Run 5k Mud Run
June 1, 2019
8745 Pine Mountain Rd
Springville, AL 35146
- This 5k Mud Run is at The Ridge Off-Road Riding Park in Springville, AL, and it brings the heat! Featuring nearly 30 obstacles, this one is tough enough for the obstacle course veterans, but friendly enough for beginners, with hills, lots of mud, and rocky terrain. Individuals and teams are welcome, and spectators are free. This one has been in May for the last few years but the 2019 race date has yet to be announced.
Editor’s Note: You’ll want some sturdy trail shoes for this one – keep those feet and ankles protected to finish this race!
Click here to learn more about the Panther Run.
4. The Barbarian Challenge
June 15, 2019
Noccalula Falls Park
1500 Noccalula Rd
Gadsden, AL 35904
- “Not your grandmother’s 5k.” The Barbarian Challenge at Noccalula Falls Park promises to put you “through some pretty insane obstacles” over a 6 mile course. Get ready for a lot of climbing, carrying, crawling and hurdling; these obstacles are no joke! Individuals can win overall and age group prizes, and male and female teams race in the afternoon. Overall female and male winners receive the coveted “Conan The Barbarian” Sword!
Editor’s Note: This one is in mid-June, so be prepared for the Alabama heat. I recommend gear that keeps you cool through the race, and drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the event.
Click here to learn more about the Barbarian Challenge.
5. Green Beret Challenge (Alabama Commando Challenge)
Date TBD (August 2019)
Noccalula Falls Park
1500 Noccalula Rd
Gadsden, AL 35904
- The Green Beret Commando Challenge is unlike many of the other obstacle course races, as it is only a team event. After forming and signing up your 4-person team, you will traverse an 8+ mile course pushing, pulling, carrying, climbing, and crawling your way to the finish line. Founded by former Special Forces Green Berets, the GBC promises to offer “an array of personal challenges requiring strength, determination, physical endurance, problem solving, and decision making.” Date for 2019 has not been announced, but this one took place at Noccalula Falls Park in late August 2018.
Editor’s Note: Check back for event dates on their website to see if they will host another event in Alabama.
Click here to learn more about the Green Beret Challenge.
6. Spartan Alabama Weekend
March 16-17 2019
1199 Radcliff Rd
Saraland, AL 36525
- This race takes us outside of Central Alabama down to Mobile, if you’re up for the drive. Spartan may be the biggest brand in the obstacle course business. Their events are always tough, efficiently run, and have plenty of mud. This one is especially muddy and dusty, promising to take you through swamps, mud, muck, and other challenging terrain. This race weekend features the Super (8-10 miles, 24-29 obstacles), the Sprint (3+ miles, 20-23 obstacles) and kids races (1/2 mile -2 miles).
Editor’s Note: There are lots of great obstacle tips and workout suggestions on their website to help you prepare. These events can also be on the pricier side, so make sure you find a good discount when available.
Click here to learn more about Spartan Alabama Weekend.
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