Obstacle course: a course comprised of obstacles.

What do you mean you were expecting more than that? OK, fine, have it your way.

An obstacle course is often a large area of land given over to exercising Basically it’s a running track that gives you a full work out rather than simply working on your legs. There are three groups of obstacles. Climbing, Balancing, and Limited Access. There may also be some hybrids, such as the Attic Entry which is both a climbing and a limited access obstacle. Below are some examples of the most common obstacles in these groups.

Climbing

One obstacle is the Cargo Net. Essentially this is two A-frames of wooden beams, usually around three to five meters high, with one beam across the top, over which has been slung a large net, usually made of fairly strong nylon rope. (For some reason on the course nearest to me the rope is blue). The object is to climb over, which, although relatively easy can be quite trying if the ropes are loose enough. Sometimes the ropes are slung over a staple-like structure meaning the climb is vertical and so harder.

Another obstacle is the standard rope climb, where you must reach a platform by climbing a rope, usually around three to four meters in length. This can be very hard if you do not know how to climb ropes, but otherwise is reasonably easy, provided you are not worn out. On occasion the ropes are knotted, this makes them much easier to climb.

Although not strictly climbing, there are also the many variants of the hand over hand climb. Generally this is simply a ladder, angled at 180 degrees suspended around two meters above the ground. To complete it you must swing, and over hand along it. Variants include a single pole, inclining and declining courses and hanging loops that swing with you.

The Attic Entry is a hole in a floor of wood around two meters high with a hole in it around the size of an attic trapdoor. The idea is that you enter from below by hauling yourself up. This takes a lot of strength and so often it is the case that you are lifted through by your team mates or an instructor.

The wall is simply that, a wall. You have to climb over it using the rope, if there is one. Can be anything from four feet to twelve feet high.


Balancing

The balance beam is a beam, of varying thickness, anywhere from 20cm to 5cm. All you have to do is walk along it and not fall off. If you are being timed this can be quite tricky to complete with speed. Variants of height, width, slope, length and how straight they are all add to the challenge of this obstacle. Almost all obstacle courses include these.

There are also tire courses where the ground is scattered with car tires. This forces you to lift you feet quite high or risk tripping over.

On occasion you may see a tight-rope walk obstacle. Either this will be on it’s own or with one or two extra ropes suspended along side it to hold on to. The object is, as always, get to the other side without falling off. The looser the rope the harder it is. For this reason the ropes are almost always tight.


Limited Access

The most common of these is the net crawl, (occasionally known as Worm Pit). Basically there is a net stretched around two feet off the ground. Generally the ground is muddy. You have to crawl under the net on your elbows to reach the other side. Variants include using tarpaulin, not net, and having something nicer to crawl through.

The tunnel crawl is simply a tunnel of varying length, width, height and straightness. Sometimes it may be filled with water, or even be completely submerged. Of course this makes it much harder to complete. On occasion the tunnel may be sloped, or elevated and part of the course is getting in and out of it.


Obstacle courses are used mostly by the armed forces for training new recruits. The reason for this is they often promote teamwork and stamina much more than a simple run. They also teach some basic skills such as how to scale walls, climb ropes and roll under things. The emergency services often use courses to train new officers.

Courses are also often part of fitness and leisure complexes and sometimes are simply present in council owned woods and fields. For younger children adventure playgrounds are often smaller simplified obstacle courses, with many of the above elements.

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