Obstacle Race Themes to Run From

Obstacle course races love their themes. We’ve got races that incorporate elements from zombies, superheroes, Vikings, the end of the universe, surprisingly violent amphibians, and ancient Greek warriors whose attitudes toward what you could do to 12-year-old boys have fortunately dropped off the list of acceptable modern practices, just to name a few.

And I guess it makes sense. Themes are fun, and in the crowded and unsettled market that is obstacle course racing, event organizers need to do what they can to make their races stand out.

Still, any trend can go too far. While I hate to suggest not going to any given obstacle course race, if you see any of these races, run—the other way.

The Muddy Math Run

Description: You know how in high school, you had to learn about factorials and parabolas and the law of cosines, and you were adamant that you’d never need to know any of that stuff when you were an adult, and then you grew up and you were right? Well, you’re not right anymore.

Typical obstacle: The muddy sine, a series of perfectly wave-shaped mud humps, to climb over and slide down.

Penalty for obstacle failure: A horde of volunteers, each dressed as Miss Johnson from your high school (complete with curiously angular eyeglasses), tsking and telling you that they’re not angry, just disappointed, because they know what you’re capable of if you would just apply yourself.

The Retroredonkulous Race

Ted McGinley
Description: If you missed the news, the classically non-essential sitcom Coach is coming back, which shows just how low the bar for 80s/90s revivals is. This race will bring all your favorites back in a smorgasbord of nostalgia—Wings, Out of This World, and even She’s the Sheriff.

Typical obstacle: The ratings decline, a waterslide that simulates the typical viewership of these sitcoms over time. It’s 16.4 feet tall and drops to as low as 2.1 feet, at which point the racer will be replaced by Ted McGinley.

Penalty for obstacle failure: The Complication, a seemingly straightforward 5-foot wall climb that you won’t ever get to due to a series of farcical misunderstandings. Precisely 22 minutes later, someone will give you a big hug and explain that everything is OK now, and you’ll never have to mention it again.

The Fifty Shades Shuffle

knotty rope
Description: The mud isn’t the only thing that’s dirty about this race. It’s jam-[censored] with clamps, masking tape, and other [censored]. Plenty of people have called this race utter [censored], but there’s a surprisingly good chance you’ll see your mom there.

Typical obstacle: The Kinky [censored], a knotted rope 50 feet long that racers will need to climb, [censored], [censored], [censored], and finally roll [censored], right up the [censored].

Penalty for obstacle failure: Spankings, mostly, preceded by 500 pages of badly-[censored] inner monologue, contract paperwork, and [censored].

The Bridezilla Blitz

Description: It’s absolutely the most important day in a young woman’s life, which means that every obstacle has to be punctuated by lots of screaming, and since it has to be perfect, anyone who gets muddy will be required to leave. Also, the average entry fee is $25,200.

Typical obstacle: What a selfish question! Don’t you realize it’s the bride’s day? Okay, fine, there’s a giant wedding cake to climb up while wearing a salmon-colored taffeta dress, which you’ll have to buy but it’s okay because you can wear it tons of other places—so if you’ve got a complaint, you can just leave!

Penalty for obstacle failure: Racers will be required to create a seating chart for 120 guests, most of whom hate each other. You’d better make everyone behave because if anyone does anything to ruin this day YOU ARE DEAD TO ME!

Copyright Non-Infringing Happy Mouse Person Shuffle

Humma Kavula
Description: This OCR combines the joy of adorable anthropomorphic animals with a soundtrack of beloved songs like like “Stars Have Wish-Granting Powers,” “You Don’t Have to Think Too Hard About Stuff When You Can Build an Ice Castle with Your Mind,” or “Humma Kavula,” none of which can be the grounds for any lawsuits.

Typical obstacle: The Spring Meadow, a wide expanse of fresh grass to run across and snack on, after which your mother will be shot.

Penalty for obstacle failure: The race will put you in a vault and disavow any knowledge of you, just like it does for its 1946 movie “Reconstruction Was A Happy Time.”

*Image credits and captions:

teacher.jpg: Caption: If you really mess up an obstacle, she will send you to the principal’s office.
Credit: By Vgrigas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ted McGinley.jpg: Caption: The Retroredonkulus Race has also announced plans to continue the trend of obstacle course race/cruise hybrids.
Credit: Screencap from http://imgbuddy.com/ted-mcginley-happy-days.asp (should be acceptable under fair use)

knotty rope.jpg: Caption: You’ll find yourself in the [censored] of this rope, with your [censored] tied and your [censored] [censored].
Credit: Public domain image via http://pixabay.com/en/thaw-ship-traffic-jams-rope-ship-517232/

Wedding_Cake.jpg: Caption: Racers will have to scale an 87-foot replica of this cake, with the option to strap 35-pound fondant roses on their back.
Credit: By sweetfacecakes (Britney Wedding Cake Uploaded by Beria) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Humma Kavula.jpg: Caption: It means you don’t need to stress out forever, if you don’t vote for stupid.
Credit: Screencap from http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2579601664/ch0007551?ref_=nmmd_rg_md3 (should be acceptable under fair use)

Greg Landgraf

Greg Landgraf is a Chicago writer who posts funny stuff about OCR, occasionally thoughtful stuff about OCR, and bloggish navel-gazing at fatboybigwall.com.

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