Are you looking for a bit of adventure in your life? Does a marathon or even a triathlon seem a bit too easy for your tastes? Well, you aren’t alone. A new breed of races built around obstacles, high stakes and sometimes-dangerous conditions has grown in popularity in recent years. Indeed, there are a number of these races to pick from here in Maine.

Every summer, Sunday River holds the Tough Mountain Challenge. The 5-kilometer course is littered with obstacles both man-made and natural, including blasting snow guns and a hill climb dubbed WTF. It’s an intense course, and a reminder of how easy we have it during the winter when we’re complaining about a bit of wind. In just three years, the event has grown from 200 to 2,500 participants.

The Dynamic Dirt Challenge, held in New Gloucester, had 560 participants in its debut this year. The course wound around the grounds of the scenic Pineland Farms, and included a slip-and-slide, a single track run and a tractor tire course. The number of participants, despite road closures and torrential rain before (and during) the event, is a testament to the hardcore following these events inspire.

Maine even has an event series attempting to go national — the RAID Series, based in Portland. This summer, the organizers hosted obstacle courses in three different venues. The “Urban” Raid was held on Portland’s East End, the “Beach” Raid on Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk and the “Mountain” Raid at Sunday River.

Produced by Aura360 Ventures and Tri-Maine Enterprises, RAID events are based around a combination of attractive natural environments and large constructed obstacles. Looking at how easily obstacles like marine hurdles, cargo nets and portable walls can be slotted onto a beach or mountainside, it’s easy to see how events like RAIDs could go national.

A common thread among these events is that they offer a test that’s both mental and physical. While there’s no denying the mental strength it takes to get through any test of endurance, an obstacle course or urban race demands quick, strategic thinking.

One particularly pleasant aspect of these sometimes grim-sounding events is the party at the finish line. Good beer and good food seem to be the most common rewards.

At Sunday River’s Tough Mountain Challenge, a DJ, barbecues, a beer garden, chairlift rides and ziplines await racers. The Dynamic Dirt Challenge ends with beer, pizza and music.

Some Sugarloafers are looking to bring one of the best-known national races, the Spartan Race, to Maine. The Spartan Race series began in Vermont in 2010 with fewer than 10,000 racers, but that number has ballooned in the race’s 2012 series.

It’s among the most challenging of the obstacle-based events, with barbed-wire crawls, eight-foot walls, and rope climbs appearing at most of the races.

The first step in bringing the race to Maine is a Facebook page.

In less than a week, the page had nearly reached its goal of 1,000 Facebook “likes.”

We’ve reached the end of the season for most of these races. However, all the races mentioned here are returning in 2013, and registrations are coming in fast.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John Christie. Josh can be reached at:

[email protected]

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