For years endurance races were comprised of running, cycling, and or swimming.  The biggest obstacle you faced was how far and how fast you could do it.  This sounds challenging enough.  So why have these obstacle course races gained so much popularity in the last couple of years?

Obstacle courses that test stamina and strength for over 100 years was commonly relegated to the military and paramilitary organizations to prepare for whatever physical task they may have to confront in a fight or survival situation.  So why does the common everyday person, that is rarely put in these situations, want to do these types of events?  Why aren’t people happy with running the marathon or triathalon?  Why are people compelled to get themselves dirty, frozen (traverse icy water pits), crawl on the ground under barbed wire, and get shocked (yes, electrical shock)?  I can’t say what motivates everyone but I have few  theories.

First, maybe it is the mundaneness of our lives.  It could be that just running, biking or swimming is, for some, too boring.  Many of us live structured lives and some people are looking for something different and unfamiliar.  Maybe we need that fear of the “obstacle” to overcome to feel alive. The fact of doing something we never thought we would do or feared doing gives us the sense of strength and accomplishment.  The unknown becomes less scary.

Another motivator is that obstacle courses encourage teamwork while other endurance races encourage personal achievement. Granted obstacle races encourage personal achievement but in no other event will you see individuals and teams working together to help each other overcome the obstacle.  People that enjoy doing team based activities will more likely gravitate to these types of events.

Whatever it is that motivates people it has become a phenomena over the last couple of years.  Weigh in and tell us what you think motivates people to do this type of racing?

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