Early Races

708 BC Ancient Pentathlon: run, long jump, javelin, discus, wrestling

1040 Fell Running: 1.5-20 km, open terrain, many hills

1860 Steeple Chase: 3,000 m run + 28 barriers & 7 water jumps

1876 Cross Country Running: 4-12 km, open terrain

1912 Modern Pentathlon: fencing, swimming, show jumping, pistol shooting, track run

1946 Military Pentathlon Obstacle Run: 500 m + 20 obstacles



Adventure Racing events include sprints of a few hours through Expedition races of many days. Natural terrain obstacles such as mountains, deserts, rivers and oceans are common. Teams of 2, 3 or 4 use any means of non-motorized transport to navigate distances up to 1,000 km. Sprint Adventure Races were popularized in the 1980’s and 1990’s introducing man-made obstacles, fewer disciplines, less equipment and shorter distances. Originally popularized by the Raid Gauloises and Eco-Challenge.


Ninja Competitions are events where individuals and teams compete on Ninja Warrior style obstacles. Competitions are held on courses between 25 m and 200 m long with 4 or more Ninja Warrior obstacles, as head-to-head races or timed competitions.

Events have been popularized by the American Ninja WarriorUltimate Beastmaster and Sasuke television show competitions in 148 countries. A billion people worldwide follow these shows. The official international League of Ninja is the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association.


Obstacle Course Races are large scale, mass participation events held in parks, ski resorts, wilderness, rural, urban and suburban locations. Races can have up to 30,000 participants and vary in length from 3 km (short course), 5 km (international), 12-15 km (standard), 21 km (long course) to 50 km (ultra).

There are over 2,500 OCR’s worldwide and brands such as True GritToughestSpartan RaceTough Mudder and Strong Viking have multiple races, series and championships.



Beach OCR’s are mass participation events that take advantage of the sand, sunshine and water of beach environments. Formats include individual, mixed team and relay races.

Beach OCR events are held on all continents and many countries with beach access, from England to Indonesia and the middle east.


Combine OCR’s are typically run on 1,000 to 5,000-meter courses and include obstacles that test upper body, lower body, grip and total strength, including functional exercises. Mass starts typically have up to 100  people at a time.

Popular races include Tough Mudder X (TMx), Hyrox, Spartan Crossfit Challenge and the Civilian Military Combine. These events are designed to be spectator friendly, with exciting, head to head racing.


Similar to Adventure Racing, Ultra and set time OCR’s are typically 4, 8, 12 or 24 hours mass participation events with men, women and team competitions. Competitors compete for as many laps as they can in the time allowed. Laps vary up to about 10 km long.

World’s Toughest Mudder is the 24-hour OCR World Championships, with individuals and teams covering as much distance as possible in 24 hours. The Spartan Ultra World Championships is an annual event held over 50 kilometres.


Track OCR’s are sprint to middle distance competitions from 25 meters and up. Individual and mixed relay events can be time trials (one person at a time) or have 2 to 24 people or more on the start line. The 100 m (10 OCR obstacles) and 400 m (12 OCR obstacles) events have established world records and have been held in Games recognised by the International Olympic Committee.

Track OCR is held on athletic tracks, stadiums, streets or other flat areas. Events in popular culture include the Million Dollar Mile competition show on CBS television network in the United States.

ABOUT Obstacle Racing

Obstacle Races (also known as OCRs) are individual or mass participation events where athletes run and overcome obstacles. They are typically held in parks, ski resorts, wilderness, rural, urban and suburban locations. Races can have up to 20,000 participants and are commonly in lengths of 100 m (sprint), 3 km (short course), 5 km (international), 12-15 km (standard), 21 km (long course) to 50+ km (ultra).

Individuals and teams compete from 25 meters up to ultra distance in outdoor and indoor venues.

There are over 2,500 obstacle races worldwide and brands such as Tough VikingToughestSpartan RaceTough Mudder, and Strong Viking have multiple races, series and championships.


OCR European Championships established 2016

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