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Are you a Savage? Guide to adventure racing

Sam Abbitt races through the mud.

Sam Abbitt races through the mud.

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For those who find working out in a gym confining and standard equipment far from stimulating, the sport of obstacle racing has become a wildly popular outlet. Obstacle races, also referred to as mud and adventure races, are all about challenging oneself and putting the body through an ultimate physical test. From jumping over fire to crawling under barbed wire, it may not sound appealing to everyone, but with a little bit of training — and courage — completing a race can be a very rewarding experience.

If you’re thinking about signing up for one of these events but feel unsure about how to get started, there are a few things to keep in mind.

• You don’t have to go it alone. These races are a great opportunity to build camaraderie between a group of coworkers or friends. Completing the race with a team enables you to help each other along the way, and what better bonding experience than crawling through mud together?

• It’s not your average family fun run. Most races, like Orlando’s own Savage Race, are serious about their obstacles. These courses are set across the most treacherous terrain available and designed to push you both physically and mentally, and may even force you to conquer a few phobias. They will test your running ability, balance, overall strength and stamina.

• Sign up early. Events like Savage Race have set pricing schedules, the earlier you sign up, the cheaper it is. There are also usually discounts for teams, students and the military, so be sure to check those out too.

• Train and prepare. As with any run, Savage Race is an intense event that you should definitely prepare for. Adrienne Harvey, a level two-certified Russian Kettle Bell trainer in Winter Park, advises that first-time participants take a very honest fitness assessment of themselves. “You’ll need to know your strengths and when to pace yourself so you don’t get hurt,” Harvey said. She also points out the importance of building upper body strength to get up and over intense obstacles: “Full-body exercises and high-intensity cardio are the most beneficial.”

Harvey suggests practicing at your local park to master obstacles such as the monkey bars or rope climbing, and states that powerful exercises such as the kettle bell swing and sprinting will help racers prepare. She reminds those training that proper form is always of the utmost importance, and advises to begin training early. “Take your time when deciding where to practice. Visit some unconventional facilities like mixed martial arts or workout with a kettle bell trainer to assist in building strength and stamina.“

Endurance obstacle races aren’t for the light of heart, but don’t be intimidated. These events are the perfect opportunity to set and reach a personal goal. Preparation is key, so evaluate your fitness level and grab some of your most adventurous friends to sign up. As long as you ready the mind and body, the race may bring out a savage side that you didn’t know existed!

Sam Abbitt, CEO of Savage Race, received his MBA at the University of Florida and kicked-off the Orlando-based obstacle race event in 2011.