Summer obstacle course races and mud runs for the kid in us

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Participants in the 2013 Philadelphia Color Run that had finished the race gather to listen to a DJ and do "Color Drops" where they throw powered color into the air all at once. ( MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer )

I’m going to make a bold statement and say that one of life’s greatest pleasures is lacing up your shoes and heading out for a run. The experience is even more enjoyable when done in a group. While traversing obstacles. And sloshing through the mud. Or being chased by zombies. Like I said, a pleasurable experience. If you’re like me and embrace the muddy and intense side of life, these extreme races will be your dream come true.

Break the old “no white before Memorial Day” rule and put on your best white running attire on Sunday, May 18 for the Graffiti Run. The 5k course begins at Campbell’s Field in Camden, NJ at 9 a.m. and throughout the run racers will be hit with powdered color pellets, turning your fashion faux pas into the most colorful attire of the season.

If you want to try out your hand at a Navy SEAL-type event, get to Ocean City, NJ for Stand Up 4 SEALS, a multifaceted event with proceeds going to the Navy SEAL Foundation and the Travis Manion Foundation. Channel your inner SEAL during the 2-mile obstacle course along Ocean City’s 8th Street Beach, navigate the seas on a stand-up paddle board challenge or watch the kids participate in a fun run. All races begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 24.

Don’t wait until the end of the race to get cleaned up, embrace some suds mid-run at the 5k Foam Fest. On Saturday, May 24, 11 obstacles, including a mud pit, cargo climb and “chamber of foam,” will be set up at Camp Kweebec in Schwenksville, PA for this 3.1 mile race, with heats starting at 8 a.m. (Though, you should arrive at least an hour prior to your heat.) The rest of the day, chill out at the festival—moon bounce!—and enjoy a free adult beverage if you’re of age.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, June 7 also at Camp Kweebec is the Dirty Dash, another 5k loaded with muddy obstacles. Heats start at 8 a.m. but bib pickup will take place three weeks prior to the race. A special “Piglet Plunge” 1-mile kids mud run, starting around 1:30 p.m. also is on the docket.

A shorter run, but no shortage of adrenaline will be offered at Saturday, June 7’s the Great Bull Run and Tomato Royale. The running of the bulls comes to the Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, PA where multiple waves of the horned animals will charge at runners (18 years of age and older) making their way around a quarter-mile track. Heats start at 11 a.m., but hang around for the ultimate food fight at 3 p.m. Grab some tomatoes and wage lycopene war. The day will be completely GoPro-worthy, so bring your camera.

For runners with a little more endurance, the Savage Race features 6 miles with 25 obstacles at Skirmish USA in Albrightsville, PA on Saturday, June 28. You’ll need it all: upper body strength for monkey bars over water, lower body strength for a log carry through a bog, balance to get over a plank over a pit of muddy water and mental stamina to get you through the whole thing. The first heat kicks off at 9 a.m. with subsequent heats beginning every 20 minutes after, but you’ll want to get there early for packet pickup and gear check.

Grab a team and sign up for the Tribal Challenge. Teams of four start their 3.1 mile journey at Hatboro-Horsham High School in Horsham, PA on Wednesday, July 16 and accrue points based on completion of obstacles. Be mindful that your team’s official time is based on when all four members cross the finish line. Heats will be every 10 minutes beginning at 6 p.m. and racers are invited to some free grub courtesy of Iron Abbey Gastro Pub.

Get saturated during another vibrant run, this time on Saturday, July 19 at the Color Run. Starting at 9 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Center, runners will start clean and pristine and end the 3.1 mile run covered in color, courtesy of the four color stops along the way.

If you like your mud with a side of rope climb, take on the Merrell Down and Dirty. Offered in two course lengths—3 mile and 6 mile—this race, held in Warminster, PA’s Warminster Community Park features an inclined soapy rope wall climb, balance beams and more. Registration and packet pick up opens at 6 a.m. on Sunday, July 27.

The zombie apocalypse comes to Pennsylvania on Saturday, August 30 and Saturday, September 13. The Zombie Run, the first of the two Walking Dead-inspired races, takes place at Skirmish USA. Interested runners can register as a “human” or a “zombie,” where you’ll get a makeover and aim to remove the life flags off the “humans.” Races run during the day and night, beginning at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., respectively. The Zombie Mud Run hits the field behind Willow Glen Flea Market in Sinking Spring, PA two weeks later. The premise is the same, but this race is only offered during daylight at 7 a.m. Both races offer obstacles and mud, if escaping flesh-eating zombies wasn’t difficult enough.

Don’t forget that most of these events require a waiver, offer gear check and wash-off stations. Also, a word to the wise: tie those shoes—tight. 

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