Run for Your Life

Some people achieve mental and spiritual enlightenment by pushing their bodies to the limit. Here are some of Ontario’s weirdest and most punishing races

Mud Hero

Where Caledon • When August 26 • Who does it Endurance specialists, mud enthusiasts • Hardcore-o-meter 10/10: everything is harder when you’re caked in mud.

Doing anything over 10 kilometres is hard. This extreme sprint asks you to also complete 26 daunting obstacles—rope swings, wall climbs, cinder block carries, tightrope walks—while covered head-to-toe in slick, stinky, glorious mud. Post-race showers highly recommended. From $74.


Spartan Race

Where Orono • When June 23-24 • Who does it Wannabe Survivor contestants • Hardcore-o-meter 10/10: think of the hardest thing you’ve done, then double it and add a bit.

Throw spears, crawl under barbed wire, carry buckets of rocks—and that might just be the first obstacle. The “sprint” option offers 20 obstacles over five kilometres; the “super” is 29 obstacles over 13. “Elite” entrants compete for money and sponsorship deals. From $99.


8K Kilt Run

Where Perth • When June • Who does it Tartan fetishists, Outsider fans • Hardcore-o-meter 5/10: the running is serious, but so is the single malt consumed along the way.

Sprint through downtown Perth amid a mob of kilted Scot­ophiles. For an additional test, the Warrior Obstacle Challenge requires participants to lug a sword and shield throughout, with stops for a hammer throw and downing a shot of scotch. Race-approved kilts are available for $35. From $50.


Rugged Maniac

Where Kitchener • When June 9 • Who does it Tough Mudder veterans searching for a new challenge • Hardcore-o-meter 9/10: you could literally catch on fire.

This race, held at a Kitchener ski hill, forces racers to conquer 27 butt-kicking challenges, like crawling through dirt tunnels, barreling down a huge waterslide and leaping over flaming logs. The hardest-core find ways to up the intensity, including going shoeless or covering their bodies in war paint. From $49.


5K Foam Fest

Where Uxbridge • When July 21 • Who does it Anyone who didn’t participate in a university foam party • Hardcore-o-meter 4/10: it’s hard to be intense when it looks like you just had a bubble bath.

This wet and wild competition is a family-friendly run in which racers sport neon headbands or tie-dyed shirts as they make their way through 22 obstacles—including the world’s largest inflatable water slide. The highlight is getting doused in 2.5-million cubic feet of foam. From $45.


6K Prison Break Race

Where Binbrook • When September 15 • Who does it Former camp counsellors, childhood rebels • Hardcore-o-meter 7/10: getting chased by the five-0 adds an element of fear.

Participants imagine they’re escaping from a high-security detention unit in this capture-the-flag-like competition. Start with a belt and three flags (i.e., three chances to escape), and navigate a series of obstacles before in-character prison guards haul you back to your cell. From $55.



A Skeptic’s Guide to Self-Care

Part 1: Golden Getaways
Spas for quieting the mind, calibrating the qi and pampering the body

Part 2: Child’s Pose
Toronto’s chillest kindergartners strike a pose

Part 3: Superfoods That Don’t Suck
Twenty things that taste as good as they are

Part 4: Silent Meditation
What it’s like to go mute for 10 days: a memoir

Part 5: Feel Good, Look Better
Luxe gear to get zen in style

Part 6: Run for Your Life
Six endurance events for endorphin-chasing masochists