If you like the outdoors, getting muddy, obstacle courses and costumes then you probably want to do a mud run this summer. Mud runs are becoming more popular each year, with numerous in Colorado and other states. And they aren’t just for fitness-freaks, they are for everyone and all ages. Never heard of a “mud run?” No problem. 303 Magazine covers all the basics and gives a list of the muddy summer events near Denver, explained below.

What Are Mud Runs?

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A mud run is an outdoor obstacle course that, you guessed it, will typically cover even the nether-reaches of your body. Each mud run generally varies with the kind of obstacles included, though there are some favorites. Participants can usually expect to crawl under something through goopy mud, climb over something tall and slip down a water/mud slide. But also expect unusual obstacles, especially as mud runs become more popular and competition for the most extreme heats up. Buying an entry to a mud run ranges from around $30 to $200 and usually includes one try at the course, a t-shirt, a beer or drink voucher and a medal.

Mud runs encourage all athletic levels to attempt the course and nearly all of them offer detours if an obstacle seems unsurpassable, or if you’re just too damn tired. Non-competitive runners make up the majority, leading to a fun and friendly atmosphere that thrives on teamwork and being able to laugh at yourself. Signing up with friends is encouraged though it is also possible to sign up solo and hope to find friends there.

Tips and Tricks

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Photo courtesy of Mud Factor Facebook page

Beginners are always welcomed at these events, but should know these helpful guidelines before jumping in:

  • Register ahead of time if you want to be in the same start-time as your friends, and register together
  • Bring a change of clothes
  • Bring a separate bag to put your dirty clothes in after the run
  • Bring wet-wipes or a towel or both
  • Bring your own water to drink and rinse off (though many races offer shower stations)
  • Wear tight clothing — the looser the clothing, the slower you go
  • Wear tight shoes that will forever after be your “mud shoes” — pro-tip: finger-shoes are apparently the best
  • Cleats or shoes with any spikes are not allowed
  • Leave all jewelry at home — yes, even engagement rings, as they have been sacrificed to the Mud Gods before
  • Only wear glasses if you absolutely must, otherwise opt for goggles or no glasses at all
  • Costumes are strongly encouraged, especially team-oriented ones
  • Avoid cotton in favor of synthetics that dry fast and wick moisture away from your body
  • Go goof around on playground equipment before registering for a run (especially the monkey bars!)
  • Arrive about one hour before your start-time on the day of the run

Training for a Mud Run

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Kristen Kenoyer Woodland at the Spartan Race in Texas. Photo courtesy of Spartan Race Facebook Page

Mud runs market themselves on a “fun factor”— which means that training for them is certainly not necessary. It also depends on your idea of fun, and if competition suits your idea of fun, training for mud runs should include some specific exercises. Even if competition isn’t on your radar, all mud runs are not created equal and some have very difficult obstacles that may take some basic preparation. Rock climbing is probably the most beneficial training as it addresses the three main tests of strength in mud runs — upper body, endurance and flexibility.

Other options for upper body training are pull-ups, push-ups, planks and the traditional gym bench workouts. If going to a gym doesn’t fit your schedule or style, go to a playground and try swinging from one monkey bar to the other. Though strength and teamwork will certainly help to overcome the obstacles in a mud run, the true test is endurance. Depending on the course and how many people run before you, the mud might feel like quicksand or wet cement. Half of the struggle (and fun) is the distance between obstacles. For endurance, the obvious option is any type of cardio workout — running, biking, swimming, rollerblading. Wall-sits and lunges will help the endurance in your legs. If stretching is foreign to you, learn some basics (there is a great resource here) because as much as mud runs are supposed to be fun, your day might be ruined by a pulled muscle.

There are also training guides available online through several of the mud run’s websites, like this one from Rugged Maniac.


List of Denver-Adjacent Races

Big Dog Brag

When: June 3, 8:30 a.m. start time for competitive wave, 9 a.m. start time for the rest
Where: Ram Off Road Park, 12800 Hwy 94, Colorado Springs
Cost: $49 adult 5k, $39 adult 2k, $25 kids, $5 per car
The Lowdown: 
Choose between a 5k (3.1 miles) with over 25 obstacles or a 2k (about 1.24 miles) with the same obstacles but less distance. Some of the obstacles include a 60 feet waterslide, giant rope climbs, cargo net climbs, tarzan swing and a slip-n-slide in mud. Sign up before May 31 to secure the prices listed above.

Dirty Girl Mud Run

When: June 10, starting at 10 a.m. with waves starting every 15 minutes until 1:30 p.m.
Where: 184 Copper Circle, Copper Mountain
Cost: $65, 300 free slots for cancer survivors
The Lowdown: 
“Built to inspire fabulous females to run, walk, climb, jump and laugh their way, hand in muddy hand, to an unabashed sense of accomplishment.” This one is only for the ladies though men are welcome to come cheer on their counterparts. The course is 5k with approximately 10-12 obstacles and is un-timed. Dirty Girl Mud Run is partnered with Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC)  and encourages participants to help fundraise for this cause.

Mountain Mud Run

When: June 10, kids & family start at 1:30 p.m. and adults start at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Mountain Plaza at Vail Village, Vail
Cost: $40 before 6/8, $50 until day-of
The Lowdown: 
Part of the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Mountain Mud Run is divided into “Mountain Madness”  and “Kids and Family Division” so that everyone can have as much fun (and challenge) as possible. Everyone starts in a mass-group and the course is “short-lap” style —meaning there will be several .7 mile laps with the same obstacles in order to finish. Prepare to run on all types of ground, including asphalt, hiking trails, grass and mud.

Mud Factor

When: June 17, kids start at 10 and 10:30 a.m., adults start at 11:30 a.m. and in 15 minute waves until 1 p.m.
Where: Aztec Family Raceway, 12400 Hwy 94, Colorado Springs
Cost:  $65, $35 ages 13 -18, ages 4 – 12 are free. Parking $10 cash per vehicle
The Lowdown: 
More information about Mud Factor will be made available the week before the race for participants, but what is known is the Adult Wave (14 years and older) will be 5k and include obstacles like the US Border Wall and the wire crawl. The Kid Wave will be 2k and have the Canadian Border Wall and the mini cargo climb. Spectators must pay $10 to attend.

Tough Mudder

When: July 15 and 16
Where: 184 Copper Circle, Copper Mountain
Cost: $195 standard, $205 registration protection, $176 each in a 3 ticket bundle
The Lowdown: 
Tough Mudder lives up to its name because it may be one of the most challenging mud runs. First, the course is 10-12 miles (16-19 km) with over 20 obstacles, set in mountainous terrain. According to the website, “With no podiums, winners or clocks to race against, Tough Mudder isn’t about how fast you can cross the finish line. It’s about pushing yourself. It’s about teamwork, camaraderie and accomplishing something extraordinary.”  With obstacles like Everest 2.0 (a 15 feet tall slick half-pipe) and Arctic Plunge 2.0 (where you must escape a giant container of ice after sliding into it) this is no ordinary mud run.

Tough Mudder Half

When: July 15 and 16
Where: 184 Copper Circle, Copper Mountain
Cost: $105 standard, $115 registration protection, $95 each in a 3 ticket bundle
The Lowdown: 
If the Tough Mudder seems too intense for you, the Tough Mudder Half might be perfect. With five miles and 13 obstacles (that do not include the ice bucket), this mud run is still challenging but more approachable.

MuckFest MS

When: July 15, start at 9 a.m. with waves every 20 minutes throughout the day
Where: Salsbury North, 9200 Motsenbocker Rd., Parker
Cost: $80 until June 28
The Lowdown: 
This 5k course is “made for laughs” according to the website, with obstacles like Tunnel of Love, Big Balls and Swing Set. MuckFest MS supports the work of National MS Society, aimed at ending MS and “muckers” and volunteers have raised over $25 million for them.

Rugged Maniac

When: Aug. 12, 9 a.m. start
Where: Thunder Valley Motocross Park, 701 South Rooney Rd., Lakewood
Cost: $79 plus tax and fees, $10 car permit, spectators free
The Lowdown: 
Rugged Maniac is more focused on the obstacles than the running, packing over 25 obstacles into their course. Some of the more unique obstacles are trampolines, fire pits, gong-banging and a guillotine made for teamwork. The Denver run is already 70 percent full.

Terrain Racing Denver

When: Aug. 26, 8 a.m. start times with waves every 15 minutes throughout day
Where: The Recess Factory, 3220 Erie Pkwy, Erie
Cost: $30 before May 10, $60 after for 5k. $35 before May 10, $70 after for 10k. Competitive waves cost $15 extra
The Lowdown: 
Choose between a 5k and 10k course, with over 25 obstacles to challenge every muscle in your body. Part of the challenge in Terrain Racing Denver is they do not release their obstacles or course map until the day of the race. Be prepared for anything.

Spartan Race Colorado Rockies Ultra Beast, Beast and Sprint

When: Aug. 26 and 27
Where: Beaver Run Resort, Breckenridge
Cost: Sprint $99- $134, Beast $149-$204 and Ultra Beast $180-$195
The Lowdown:
 This series of Spartan Races at Breckenridge begin at the highest in elevation for any other Spartan Race in the world, which might choke up some sea-level athletes, but the scenery is enough to bring even couch potatoes outdoors. With four options — Ultra Beast, Beast, Sprint, Kids — there is no reason to feel intimidated. The Sprint race is 3-5 miles with 20-23 obstacles and a fastest finishing time of 40 minutes. The Beast race jumps up to 12-14 miles with 30-35 obstacles and a fastest finishing time of 3 hours. The Ultra Beast makes the others pale in comparison with over 26 miles, over 50 obstacles and a fastest finishing time of 7 hours.

Warrior Dash at Colorado Renaissance Festival

When: Sept. 16, competitive waves start at 8 a.m., preferred at 8:30 a.m. and standard at 12 p.m.
Where: 650 Perry Park Ave., Larkspur
Cost: $55 (standard) or $65 (preferred and competitive) until May 17, price increases every month after. $100 day of event
The Lowdown: 
With over 3 million participants worldwide since 2009, Warrior Dashes have suspended belief for an afternoon, making participants feel like warriors. A 5k run with 10-12 obstacles, Warrior Dash doesn’t end at the finish line. Your ticket price includes an all-day festival pass with other warrior-style activities beyond the race. And you’ll receive a commemorative fuzzy viking helmet.