Contrary to popular misconception, mud runs aren’t strictly reserved for fitness buffs or masochistic thrill-seekers—rather, these events are available to all, beginners included. Whether you’re a seasoned mudder, new to the mud scene or somewhere in between, we’ve rounded up the best mud races for every fitness category and personality type.
Best For: Significant Others
Muddy Buddy Run
Distance: 3-4.5 miles
Don’t waste another date night watching TV. It’s time to get down and dirty with your significant other and sign up for a Muddy Buddy event. An adventure series in which teams of two cooperate to navigate a 3- to 4.5-mile course peppered with obstacles, Muddy Buddy offers you and your man a chance to do something challenging as a couple—and have a playful, unforgettable experience while you’re at it. Many of the obstacles (a cargo net crawl, balance beams, a low wall) require teamwork, so you’ll have to put aside your petty squabbles and work together to conquer the course. Before crossing the finish line, you and your “partner in grime” will slosh through 50 feet of gooey mud. When all is said and done, the two of you can unwind and toss back a few beers at the Muddy Buddy after-party.
Best for: Girlfriends
Dirty Girl Mud Run
Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)
In lieu of cocktail hour, rally a group of girlfriends to register for a Dirty Girl Mud Run, a fun, female-only 5K event geared towards women of all ages and fitness levels. “It’s like a day at the spa, but way more therapeutic,” promises the event’s website. A light-hearted celebration of girl power, the event features safe yet challenging obstacles with entertaining names like “H2OMG” and “PMS” (Pretty Muddy Stuff). The event is non-competitive and untimed, so the emphasis is on having fun with your gal pals by your side (team costumes are highly encouraged). Even better, all that mud and sweat is for a great cause—the event donates a portion of proceeds to breast cancer and ovarian cancer research and awareness. This event is guaranteed to provide conversation fodder for many cocktail hours to come.
Best for: Scary Movie Lovers
Run for Your Lives [LINK TO: www.runforyourlives.com/]
Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)
If you love a good heart-pumping thrill, Run For Your Lives is the race for you. A truly exhilarating and theatrical experience, this immersive 5K ushers participants into an interactive apocalyptic playground swarming with blood-hungry, merciless zombies whose job is to chase you and catch you. Before the race, all participants are given a flag belt that represents their health. Similar to flag football, the goal is to dodge and escape from the roaming zombie actors who will be chasing you and trying to grab your flag belt. The event is designed to test your speed, strength and endurance through miles of man-made and natural obstacles, all while running to save your life. Afterward, you can celebrate your survival at the Apocalypse Afterparty filled with plenty of live music and beer.
Best for: Advanced Mudders
Distance: 10-12 miles
Billing itself as probably “the toughest event on the planet,” the Tough Mudder is no cakewalk. In this military-obstacle course—which was engineered by the British Special Forces—your mental and physical limits will be pushed and prodded as you navigate a grueling 10- to 12-mile landscape replete with challenges such as ice baths, barbed wire crawls, fire hurdles and electric shocks (yes, you heard us correctly). Merely completing the course is a badge of honor in an event where only 78 percent of entrants successfully finish, so leave your ego at the door. Although this event is available to all, including beginners, it is generally considered to be one of the more mentally- and physically-demanding mud runs on the market. So if you tend to be faint-of-heart (or cripplingly afraid of fire, electricity or tight spaces), this event might not be the best fit for you.
Best For: Families
Distance: 3 to 5 miles
Designed by real firefighters, the Hero Rush is a fun, challenging and family-friendly 5K run with firefighter-themed obstacles. In addition to the main Hero Rush race, which is available to children and adults 14+, the event features a variety of events geared towards kids and families. For example, young children can participate in two kids-only races: a Mini-Rushers for 4- to 6-year-olds, and a Juniors Course for ages 7-13. After the race, all participating youngsters will receive complimentary plastic firefighter helmets and themed T-shirts. Online reviewers praise the Hero Rush for its “family-oriented venue” and positive, supportive atmosphere. Additionally, it’s a great way to give back: All Hero Rush events are partnered with firefighter-related charities across the country, so your athletic efforts will benefit our nation’s firefighters and emergency personnel.