5 intense obstacle courses for off-duty training

Off-duty fitness training is essential for on-duty success. These events are some of the best.


Training is an important component of firefighting success. It takes dedication every day to become the best physical version of yourself and in turn, the best firefighter you can be. 

There are many opportunities for endurance – you’ve probably heard of obstacle events, which have been growing in popularity over the years. They are a terrific way to train and are designed to build team relationships, perfect training techniques and grow personal confidence. These events focus on fundamentals over winning a prize for completion. In our opinion, these are the best obstacle races you can explore for all-around optimal training. 

1. Spartan Race

Ladder climb obstacle (Photo/Wikipedia)
Ladder climb obstacle (Photo/Wikipedia)

There are three main race types with the Spartan: the Sprint, the Super and the Beast. The Sprint is about 3 miles with more than 20 obstacles to traverse. It’s the shortest race Spartan offers and best suited for beginners. The Super spans over 8 miles with 25 obstacles. The Beast is the longest of the three. It spans over 12 miles with 30 obstacles.

If these options aren’t enough for you, Spartan also offers endurance races, including the Ultra Beast, which is more than 26 miles in length and boasts more than 60 obstacles. 

If you’re looking for a training regimen before signing up, Spartan offers daily workout tips for you to consider. 

2. Zombie Mud Run

This 5k obstacle race diversifies from the others with a unique angle. You’ll complete traditional Army boot camp-like obstacles like wall climbing and also face interesting obstacles like zombies, all in the mud. You can sign up to participate as a human or as a zombie. The human team carries three flags, which represent vital organs – brains, heart and entrails. Team Zombie sets out so steal your flags (your vital organs) while you complete the other obstacles. 

3. Warrior Dash

The Warrior Dash is exceptionally proud of the obstacles they’ve fine-tuned for their course (a 5k). They currently feature 12 obstacles like the Fisherman’s Catch, where upper body strength and core stability will help you cross a net without becoming bait, or Goliath, where you’ll climb to the crest of a 30-foot-high slide and descend into water. You can see a full list of obstacles on their website. 

4. GORUCK Challenge 

This event has wonderful roots, which is why we’ve selected it for this list. The GORUCK Challenge was initially developed by Jason McCarthy to:

  • Serve as a voice for good. 
  • Employ more veterans of Special Operations than any organization outside the U.S. military.
  • Build a bridge between the military and civilians.

The original event is a 10-12 hour and 15-20 mile event based on Special Forces training. You’ll even learn from a Special Forces Cadre while participating. 

5. Civilian Military Combine (CMC) 

This 5-mile race with 25 obstacles is different from the rest because of the cross-training warmup in “The PIT” at the beginning of the event. The PIT entails a five-minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workout of the day. We should also mention that one of the obstacles at CMC, the Flying Monkey, was featured on American Ninja Warrior. The CMC doesn’t mess around. 

What’s the last fitness event you participated in? Would you recommend it? Share your preferred method of training in the comments below. 

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