My First Obstacle Race: The Tough Turtle


Saturday I was fortunate enough to both race and volunteer for the Tough Turtle obstacle race here in my hometown, Ithaca NY. It was a great experience because it was quite honestly like no other race I’ve ever done, and not just because of the obstacles.

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The whole race is set up so people work together. No one really competes with anyone else, we compete against the obstacles. People can run in teams or solo, but as a solo runner, you help each other get through each task. For example, another man and I did the tire flip together, some women ahead of me we given a leg up to transverse a high pile of hay bales. The whole premise is working together and having fun. There is a time clock, but only to keep track of the heats. You do not get a time at the end and no one wins. It was GREAT!


I decided to do the Turtle literally the night before the race. Last year it was really cold and wet so people were miserable through the race. I am not for that! I do not want to be cold and muddy (just muddy is fine for me 😉 The weather looked great and my sister and I had signed up to volunteer that afternoon anyway.

Saturday was also my last long run in my marathon lead up. I wanted to get to 20 miles, but wanted people with me. I got my friend to run the first 8 miles with me, then I finished another 8ish and then went to the Tough Turtle to get in the final miles. That way I could run with people for most of it. This was a great idea!

I began the race in the 10:15 heat. The first obstacle (it wasn’t a real obstacle but it was hard) was a straight uphill climb. Most people walked (I don’t remember if I walked it haha) and then a slide down a hill coated with plastic and soapy water. Then we ran through the woods and through a spider web made of rope. After that was a military crawl through a mud pit under some wire. That was when I got really muddy!


The other obstacles were a climbing rope wall, monkey bars, mountain climbers, a hay bale mountain, a tire mountain, a balance beam, jumping over walls and wading through water. The one task I remember the most was carrying a log as big as half my body for about a mile. You were supposed to carry it a bit, then roll it, then carry it again but there was an option to carry it the whole way. Since my log was not very “rolly” I opted to carry it.



My arms were KILLING ME!

It took me about an hour to complete the 5K distance and I had so much fun! I would totally do the same one again (just nothing more intense haha)


Before this race, I had no desire to complete anything outside of my normal racing. I was content with running and still am. However, I made a New Years Resolution, inspired by Robyn Arzon to DO EPIC SHIT. When I got even an inkling of wanting to do the Turtle, I signed up. I am fierce. I am tough. It was legit!


Part 2 of the day will come tomorrow!


Have you ever done an obstacle race?

How was you weekend?



  1. 8, 8, and THEN the tough turtle? Such a badass! I’ve always wanted to do an obstacle race but there aren’t any actually in Chicago. They’re all an hour or so outside the city, where there’s enough space/fields to actually set up a race like this. But they look like so much fun!

    • It was! I think a city might be a hard place to have an obstacle run (like Chicago) but you never know! It’s a sensation that’s gripping the nation!

    • It was so much fun! I’ve actually always wanted to just take a day and run/bike all over all day. Like only stop at coffee shops or for lunch etc. I’m still working on that trip 😉

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