A 5k to remember

Today, I have a story in both the Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer about the new breed of obstacle 5Ks — 5K races that throw up everything from a gauntlet of tires to a mud pit to a wall of flames to curtains of live electrical wires between you and the finish. They’ve become enormously popular in the past three years, drawing upwards of 25,000 participants. You can check out the story in either paper today, or return to this space tomorrow for an expanded version with links.

Today in this space, I’m including an expanded list of upcoming obstacle 5Ks in the Carolinas over the next four months. As fast as these races are popping up, I can’t guarantee that this list is complete. Let me know if I’ve missed one, though, and I’ll add it. Click on the event  to be magically transported to the event Web site for more information.

Carolinas Super Spartan
Where: Winnsboro, S.C.
When: June 25
Good to know: Registration includes free meal, one free beer, finisher’s medal and “high pressure water to the gut.”
The course: Eight miles, two aid stations, held at Carolina Adventure World.
Cost: $95 through June 8, $105 June 9-22.
Benefits: Homes for our Troops, Operation Homefront, Lungs 4 Life, Military Family Lifestyle Charitable Foundation.

Warrior Dash
Where: Huntersville, N.C.
When: Aug. 27-28.
Good to know: The Warrior Dash this weekend in Ohio has 25,000 registered participants. Includes live music.
The course: Says the Web site: “…11 obstacles from hell await you on the 3.08-mile course.”
Cost: $50 for either Saturday or Sunday waves until July 31; $60 for Sunday wave, $70 for Saturday Aug. 1-15 (registration closes at 3 p.m. on the 15th).
Benefits: Wounded Warrior Foundation.

Metro Dash
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte
When: June 11.
Good to know: Involves carrying a log, using a rope to negotiate at 12-foot wall, flipping tires.
The course: A total of 30 obstacles, 29 of which are ID’d on the Web site, one of which is not … .
Cost: $55 for individuals, $200 for teams. Registration closes June 3.
Benefits: Navy Seal Foundation.

MS Mud Run
Where: Camp Butner in Stem, N.C.
When: Sept. 24.
Good to know: Includes both “Crazed Competitors” and “Mere Mortals” divisions.
The course: This is a 10K race with a course “featuring boot camp style obstacles that are surrounded by or consist entirely of mud.” (Plan on getting muddy.)
Cost: $50  through Aug. 31, $60 Sept. 1-20, $75 Sept. 23 (day of packet pickup). No race day registration.
Benefits: Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the National MS Society.

Timberjack Challenge
Where: Princeton, N.C.
When: Oct. 1.
Good to know: Stresses its “family friendly” nature (some of these events tend to be a bit more raucous).
The course: Specifics are sparse at this point, but race organizers promise custom-made obstacles on a course covering 40 acres.
Cost: Four-person team registration is $100 until July 31, $120 thereafter. Registration is limited.
Benefits: Me Fine Foundation.

2nd Annual Marine 5k Mud Run
Where: Pinnacle, N.C.
When: June 11
Good to know: One of the more reasonably priced races, it’s $25 if you preregister, $35 if you wait until race day.
The course: Obstacles include “Hell Fire Valley,” “Ho Chi Minh Trail” and “Grenade Throw.” Can’t get much more Marine than that.
Cost: $25, $35 race day.
Benefits: Wounded Warriors program at Camp Lejeune, the USMC Youth Foundation Program, and Toys for Tots.

8 thoughts on “A 5k to remember”

  1. The Gladiator 5k was not the race that was promoted. They only had 9 obstacles. Only the one little mud puddle featured in your photo. NO drinking water on the course (on a very hot day). No after party or medals. They took down their facebook page after they received so many negative posts. Most people were demanding their money back. In fact, the race was suppose to be a fund raiser for the NC Special Olympics. But I’m not sure they even knew about the race.

    The ugly side to this story is about this promoter, and how he may have scammed almost a thousand people. For conformation, please contact Fleet Feet Sports, who sponsored the event and was also highly disappointed.

    1. I think the Gladiator was more a case of a first-time promoter not being totally prepared for such a big event. He acknowledged that they will look at what worked and what didn’t and adjust their game plan in the future. I agree that the race fell short of expectations and the lack of water on the course — and the minimal amount at the finish — was inexcusable. Still, I don’t recall talking to anyone afterwards who was that upset about the race.

      As for the N.C. Special Olympics, they were well aware of the race: Most of the volunteers who helped were provided by the group.

  2. Joe,

    You should check out Adventure Racing, akin to these events but with more thinking, teamwork, and strategy. There is a local race next Sunday in the Umstead State Park and Schenck Forest areas. The race is an 8 hour race including mountain biking, orienteering, trekking, and a ropes course. At last count there were 35 teams competing. The race is called the 9-1-1 Adventure Challenge for more info, check out

    Go Thirsty Turtles!

    1. Seems I always learn about the 9-1-1 too late to do much about it. May try and get out there with the video camera and catch some of the action. Thirsty turtles, eh?

      1. The best time to catch the action is from 8-9am as the teams prepare, recieve race instructions at 8:30 and start at 9am, or from 4-5pm as the teams come back in to the finish line full of great stories. Catching teams in action on the course might be tough since they will be so spread out and heading in different directions, but you might be able to catch teams in Schenck Forest as they pass through the ropes course during the day.

  3. There were well over a hundred posts on their facebook page. First, they just deleted the posts. Then, they pulled down the whole page.

    I spoke to numerous participants who were unhappy about the misleading marketing. As an advertising professional, it really upsets me to see someone run an event, especially a charity event, so unethically (as I’m sure you’re upset by those who write stories that are half made up).

    So much was promised and so little delivered. I ran the Rugged Maniac in Asheboro just the month before. That race lived up to its name. Mud, great obstacles, and a great party afterwards.

    I convinced several friends to pay upwards of $80 to do the Gladiator because of how it was promoted. On Facebook and on their website. Have you seen the photos on their website? Where were those from? The descriptions of the obstacles? Way out of line. Not even close. No “mud pits”. No “three sets of cargo nets”. No “rope bridge…with 29 feet of rope”. No “fire jumping”. No “never ending valley of tires”. No “80ft of camo nets”. No “after party”. Not even water to drink on a hot, hot day. I’ve never been to a charity 5k that didn’t have water and food at the end for the runners. That’s just wrong.

    I would understand if a couple of things didn’t go as planned (like the medals didn’t arrive on time). I’d understand if the town of Cary didn’t let them do some of the things they planned (like the monkey bars). But all this, and there wasn’t water on the course (an asthmatic runner on our team had to stop halfway). There weren’t volunteers at most obstacles (serious problem if someone got hurt out there). I don’t even recall a parametric being on hand.

    Now, I’m willing to pay a lot to run these races (I paid just under $70 for this one). I’m willing to recruit my friends, family and coworkers (I put together a team of 10). And I’m also for raising money for a good cause (I’ve volunteered for the Ovarian Cancer Walk and 5k Run going on 9 years). And I’m all for more of these events and for more people getting out more.

    BUT, I am NOT for deceptive marketing.

    I also want to know what happened to the money? How much was donated to the Special Olympics? The event took in well over $50k. Probably closer to $60k. No way they spent that much putting it on. So, where’s the money?

    I pose all this to you, not because you had anything to do with it, but because by writing a story, using them as the focus, you’ve given them the best advertising money can’t buy. And I hope that it doesn’t lead others to be fooled by this race.

    Something isn’t right here.

Leave a Reply