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What IS that? Breaking Down Different Types of Endurance Competitions

Endurance competitions are a HUGE business, and it can feel like new brands and events pop up on the regular. What are these competitions and who do they suit? Let’s take a look at some of the major types and brands!

Obstacle Course Racing

What is it? Every kid’s favorite game is “build an obstacle course”. Competitive Obstacle Course Racing (OCR for short) has a bit more structure to it but is nearly as thrilling! Races are most often 5km-21km long and include stretches of running broken up by obstacles that challenge your grip and overall strength. Courses are on rolling hills or mountains and footing can be quite technical. Don’t be intimidated - the community is extremely supportive and competitors constant report having SO MUCH FUN!

Who is it good for? An adventurous spirit who likes a challenge!

Major brands:

Spartan Race: The most well-known OCR brand with many events world-wide including Age Group and Elite points series. Races are a variety of lengths and distances and you’re assigned extra running if you fail an obstacle.

OCRWC: The annual “world championships” of obstacle course racing with a variety of races. Obstacles are from all major OCR brands, providing a unique and varied challenge. You must complete every obstacle but you can try as many times as you need to!

Savage Race: A competitor to Spartan, Savage races are often on less-technical terrain and obstacles slightly more difficult. You must complete every obstacle to officially finish, but you can have as many attempts as you’d like.

Hybrid Events

What is it? Hybrid competitions involve pre-determined strength exercises alternated with running intervals. Unlike OCR, hybrid competitions are held inside gyms or conference centers and are highly standardized, meaning that the competitions always have the same event requirements.

Who is it good for? Those who enjoy both lifting and running and like to compete in controlled conditions.


Hyrox: Originally from Germany, Hyrox started the current Hybrid craze. The competition includes 8 strength stations alternated with 1km run intervals (so 8km of running total). Strength stations include wall balls, weighted walking lunges, a heavy sled push/pull, and more. The “pro” division uses more difficult weights.

Deka: Deka is a subset of the Spartan brand and includes DekaFit (most running-intensive), DekaStrength (for those of you who like to lift! No running), and DekaMile, which is somewhere in between.

DekaFit involves 10 strength stations alternated with 500m runs (so 5km of running total). Strength stations are generally less heavy than Hyrox, allowing for a focus on speed!

Trail Running

What is it? The name says it all - running on trails! Trails come in all kinds of shapes and sizes with different types of events to suit everyone.

Who is this good for: Runners who enjoy training in nature and are not overly focused on metrics like pace. If you want to try a trail race, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have similar terrain to train on.


Trail Racing: A race that occurs on a trail (rather than pavement). Elevation gain/loss, surface, and length of trail races can vary immensely.

Mountain Running: Trail running that occurs on mountainous terrain. This can include light scrambling and can be up and downhill or only uphill. Again, different courses vary greatly.

Sky Running: Straight from wikipedia,” Skyrunning is a sport of mountain running up to or exceeding 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) where the minimum average incline is 6% over the total distance and at least 5% has an incline of 30% or more”. In essence, it’s racing in the high alpine on pretty gnarly mountains.

Road Racing

What is it? Racing a set distance on pavement. The most common distances are 5km, 10km, ½ marathon, and marathon.

Who is this good for: Those who are motivated by improving their personal bests, racing others, and seeing how fast they can get!

As you can see, there really is something for everyone!!

If this article has you feeling inspired to train for something new or improve performance in something you’re already doing, we can help! Check out our one-on-one run and/or strength coaching options here!

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