By Sarah Horwath
Whether you want to get down and dirty, run through a blast of coloured paint, or face your fear of heights by scaling a 10-foot wall, obstacle races are a fresh new way to put your endurance to the test. Find out which one is right for you with our guide.
Color Me Rad
Cost: $45 to $60
Who It's For: Runners and art majors
Suggested training exercises: Stairmaster, running, walking
Color Me Rad 5K is inspired by the Hindu Festival of Colors (Holi) and is more than just an endurance challenge. During the run, participants are coated with coloured liquids, powders, and gels. This year, there are eight colour stations, double last year’s number and more than any other five-kilometre colour race, meaning every person to cross the finish line is a running work of art. Also offering great music and good food, this popular palette party puts a whole new spin on painting the town red (and yellow, and green …).
Cost: $155 to $185
Who It's For: Tough girls who aren't afraid of getting dirty
Suggested training exercises: Rock climbing, swimming, push-ups
This is not a race, but rather an untimed obstacle challenge. Each course is 15 to 20 kilometres long, and requires serious stamina and concentration. Among the main obstacles is the “Funky Monkey 2.0.” While the first half of the obstacle is similar to the monkey bars children play on at recess, the second half requires Mudders to use a trapeze bar to swing onto a descending pipe and carefully climb all the way to the end — but that’s by no means the toughest obstacle on the itinerary. During “Arctic Enema 2.0,” Mudders go down a short slide into a dumpster full of muddy, ice-cold water before climbing over a wooden partition. “Berlin Walls” involves climbing 10-foot walls, while “Birth Canal” requires Mudders to crawl under the crushing force of a heavy, water-filled liner. Each Tough Mudder course varies by location and is uniquely designed based on the terrain.
Cost: $50 to $70
Who It's For: Friends and family who are up for a day of fun competition
Suggested training exercises: Jogging, hiking, swimming
Mud Hero is an all-Canadian, mud-filled obstacle course geared toward people of all ages, including families, who like to exercise and have fun. Measuring six kilometres in length, each course offers a minimum of 16 challenges, with many truly unique experiences on the agenda. Participants can look forward to the “Backwards Bullfrog,” a slippery slope soaked with mud that requires you to pull yourself up underneath cargo netting; “Punch Drunk Love,” a.k.a. making your way across a balance beam with punching bags swinging back and forth; and the “Weeble Wobble,” an upgraded, and far more intense, teeter-totter that must be climbed over. Mud Hero is a timed event, so Heroes should be prepared for some friendly competition, followed by a Mud Bash with live music, a delicious BBQ, and refreshing drinks.
Cost: $130 to $150 for a team of two
Who It's For: Aspiring Amazing Race contestants
Suggested training exercises: Sudoku, jogging, sprinting
Known as “Canada’s largest urban adventure,” the GoodLife Fitness City Chase is a 10- to 20-kilometre obstacle race that will put your mental and physical fitness level to the test. Each team is provided with a clue sheet, which is designed to help participants find ChasePoints throughout the city. Each of the 20 ChasePoints are mini challenges that require teamwork, athleticism, smarts, speed, and endurance, and can range from holding a live snake, to solving a mental riddle, to completing a physical challenge. In order to get around the city, participants can walk or take public transit. Each team needs to complete 10 ChasePoints and cross the finish line in order to be classified as a winner — and gain access to the rocking after-party.
Cost: $60 to $225
Who It's For: For those who really want to test their limits
Suggested training exercises: Sprint running, swimming, circuit training
While no two Spartan Races are ever the same, each one is guaranteed to push your mental and physical abilities to their limits. Offering different levels of races for different skill levels (the toughest of which is “Ultra Beast,” a 40-kilometre, 50-obstacle slog through body-breaking terrain), a Spartan Race is an experience unlike any other. Obstacles and challenges include everything from carrying heavy stones and logs up rocky slopes, to crawling through mud under a barbed wire canopy, to wading through freezing water for long distances. But what makes the Spartan Race so intensely crushing is that it utilizes simple, stamina-zapping exercises like running, swimming, and climbing, and cranks up the intensity until every muscle in your body is begging for mercy. There is no time limit — simply finishing the race is accomplishment enough.