to top 10 table

Best Shoes for Spartan Races & Mud Runs Reviewed

last updated Nov 30, 2018

Obstacle course racing (OCR) is an exciting and invigorating experience full of challenges which push us to the limits. Naturally, some races are much more demanding than others, demanding a more serious training regimen. Spartan & mud runs can be grueling and unforgiving; testing your physical, mental, and emotional endurance to the limits. Selecting proper footwear can be stressful, which is why we have put together an evaluation process for the best shoes for Spartan & mud run to help you make an informed decision.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research

icon
Salomon Speedcross 4
96.8/100 our score
Upper
98
Comfort
97
Midsole
97
Support
94
Outsole
98
Salomon Speedcross 4
Why is it better?
  • ContagripAr Technology
  • Sensifit Technology
  • OrtholiteAr Sockliner
  • Water-resistant Textile
  • Anti-debris Mesh
In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Salomon Speedcross 4
Test Winner: Salomon Speedcross 4
Researched Sources
13
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1450
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
11
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
15
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
By Ana Rockov:

The latest update to this article adds new information to the Criteria for Evaluation section in addition to re-organizing older information. This way, you get an article about Shoes for Spartan Race and Mud Runs with info that’s easy to find, and tips that can be followed to ensure a much quicker buying experience.

Sorting Options
Upper Comfort Midsole Support Outsole By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.8
Upper
98%
Comfort
97%
Midsole
97%
Support
94%
Outsole
98%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$129.95
$129.95
See Deal
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.2
Upper
99%
Comfort
98%
Midsole
96%
Support
93%
Outsole
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$144.95
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
Upper
96%
Comfort
95%
Midsole
92%
Support
96%
Outsole
98%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$129.95
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.2
Upper
97%
Comfort
98%
Midsole
93%
Support
91%
Outsole
97%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$99.95
$99.95
See Deal
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Upper
96%
Comfort
95%
Midsole
97%
Support
85%
Outsole
97%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$82.95
$119.95
See Deal
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Upper
95%
Comfort
90%
Midsole
93%
Support
89%
Outsole
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$189.95
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Upper
90%
Comfort
89%
Midsole
93%
Support
92%
Outsole
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$54.97
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.4
Upper
86%
Comfort
92%
Midsole
83%
Support
85%
Outsole
86%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$64.95
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.2
Upper
90%
Comfort
88%
Midsole
79%
Support
77%
Outsole
92%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$114.00
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.6
Upper
83%
Comfort
81%
Midsole
84%
Support
81%
Outsole
89%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.01.19)
$99.95
See Deal
$100.00
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Salomon Speedcross 4
  • Salomon Speedcross 4 CS
  • Salomon XA Pro 3D
  • Merrell Glove 4
  • Inov-8 Mudclaw 300
  • Salewa Ultra Flex Mid GTX
  • New Balance Nitrel v1
  • Adidas CF Racer TR
  • Salomon Speedtrak
  • Inov-8 X-Talon 212
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Top 10 Shoes for Spartan Race

1. Salomon Speedcross 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.8
Salomon Speedcross 4
Upper
98
Comfort
97
Midsole
97
Support
94
Outsole
98
best offer for today
more shops
$129.95
$129.95
See Deal
Pros:
  • ContagripAr Technology
  • Sensifit Technology
  • OrtholiteAr Sockliner
  • Water-resistant Textile
  • Anti-debris Mesh
Cons:
  • Higher-range in cost; size-dependent

These are excellent for OCR. Firstly, with tread to provide release from buildup and a water-resistant upper mesh, these offer an environment to help prevent dampness; as well as, provide excellent traction. Furthermore, this pair of trail runners utilizes an EVA midsole to help create a comfortable experience while you trek along the course. Finally, the minimalistic one-pull laces make this one of the best shoes for Spartan & mud runs.

Read more

ContagripAr
ContragripAr technology provides both water resistance and traction against the sludgy terrain. Next, while running through longer courses, this system works in conjunction with a lightweight build to help lower fatigue levels. As a result, this pair is ideal for any OCR.

Sensifit
Sensifit technology is designed to create a better fit to help with comfort levels while you traverse unforgiving terrain. In addition, the EVA molded foam provides anatomical support which creates next-to-foot cushioning. Finally, the EVA heel cup works to cradle your heel strikes for better impact pressure relief.

Cost and Value
The cost associated with this pair of trail hikers runs in the mid-to-upper range. Size-dependent, these can quickly climb in the area of the purchase price. They are, however, well-built and made of high-quality material. As such, these are worth the investment for any athlete planning on facing a challenging obstacle course race.

2. Salomon Speedcross 4 CS

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.2
Salomon Speedcross 4 CS
Upper
99
Comfort
98
Midsole
96
Support
93
Outsole
95
best offer for today
$144.95
Pros:

Anti-debris Mesh & Water-resistant Textile

Sensifit with Quicklace

Aggressive Grip

10-mm Drop

Mudguard Technology

Cons:

Expensive

Lacks Breathability

First, with the high-quality design and the addition of both the water resistance and anti-debris systems in place, these qualify as great OCR footwear. Secondly, Sensifit with Quicklace system allows for the duality of both comfort and a quick-tie speed; thus, allowing you to truly focus on the race ahead. Lastly, Contragrip technology helps to traverse through wet and soft terrain types.

Read more

Anti-debris Mesh & Water-resistant Textile
Debris and water can be an absolute pain for those running obstacle course races. These trail runners, however, is designed to withstand such nuisances and further your ability to navigate wetter, rockier, and softer terrain than ever before. With both anti-debris mesh and water-resistant textile, these are perfect for any obstacle course racer.

Sensifit with Quicklace
Sensifit technology allows this pair of shoes to cradle your feet in both comfort and support. Moreover, this pair of trail runners is equipped with a quick-lace system; providing less time for your shoes and more time concentrating on the upcoming race.

Cost and Value
Mid to lower-upper in cost association, these trail runners is size-dependent. With all of the technology deployed, however, these are an excellent choice for both beginner and professional obstacle course racer alike.

3. Salomon XA Pro 3D

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
Salomon XA Pro 3D
Upper
96
Comfort
95
Midsole
92
Support
96
Outsole
98
best offer for today
$129.95
Pros:

EVA Midsole

Tuck-away Lace Pockets

Aggressive Grip Lugs

Close-to-foot Feel

2-year Limited Warranty

Cons:

Expensive

Lacks Heel Cushioning

Firstly, these trail runners are for navigating through technical, soft terrain. Secondly, designed for OCR, this pair will help you traverse more efficiently via the aggressive lugs. Thirdly, lightweight with the obstacle course runner in mind, lace pockets are in place to keep laces out of the way. Finally, molded EVA ensures a comfortable ride while you challenge with the spirit of a champion.

Read more

Aggressive Lugs
As most trail runners know, traction is all about the ability to prevent any pickup of potential debris and performance of the lugs. These lugs do not disappoint, as they are specific in design for technical OCR. Furthermore, created to rip through some of the softer grounds, these lugs are well-placed and are efficient.

Molded EVA
A molded EVA midsole is in place to help increase comfortability levels. One of the last things any racer desires to worry over is discomfort created from their shoes while they still have a lot more race to go. This EVA midsole provides comfort throughout the race; thus, alleviating any thought of aching feet and furthering your drive to stay the course.

Cost and Value
The cost for this pair of trail running shoes is size-dependent. Furthermore, these shoes jump into the upper-range fairly quickly. However, this pair is made for speed, action, professional racing, and soft ground; a perfect choice for both beginner and serious obstacle course runners.

4. Merrell Glove 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.2
Merrell Glove 4
Upper
97
Comfort
98
Midsole
93
Support
91
Outsole
97
best offer for today
more shops
$99.95
$99.95
See Deal
Pros:

TrailProtect Technology

Vibram TC5 Outsole

Zero-drop

3mm lugs

Mesh Upper

Cons:

Lacks Grip On Wet Rock

Mesh Durability

These trail runners are equipped with 3-mm lugs and are created to give grip to wet, mud, and slippery surfaces. Made with an upper mesh design, this pair of OCR shoes is both breathable and comfortable. Also, this zero-drop trail footwear provides excellent support and traction for rockier terrains, such as gravel. Finally, the soft dirt navigators are great for your next obstacle course run.

Read more

TrailProtect
When traversing questionable terrain, underfoot protection is a necessity. With TrailProtect technology, these Merrell Glove 4 trail running shoes offer just that. Also, they are comfortable and allow for navigation through soft dirt and wet environments.

Vibram TC5 Outsole
Utilized in conjunction with TrailProtect technology, the Vibram TC5 Outsole provides grip on surfaces such as mud, wet, and slippery terrain. With this kind of traction, you no longer need to worry about your gear and can concentrate on the run ahead.

Cost and Value
These vary in range from mid to lower-upper in cost association. Size-dependent, these trail runners reflect the high-quality they are made from. Designed to withstand the aggressive nature of OCR, these are a great buy and worth the investment.

5. Inov-8 Mudclaw 300

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Inov-8 Mudclaw 300
Upper
96
Comfort
95
Midsole
97
Support
85
Outsole
97
best offer for today
more shops
$82.95
$119.95
See Deal
Pros:

Precision Fit

Aggressive Outsole

8mm Studs

Protective Rand Wrap Overlay

Dual-c Combination Sticky Outsole (medium & hard)

Cons:

Runs Small

Lacks Support

These trail runners are equipped with two types of sticky rubbers on the outsole; medium and hard. This allows for optimized gripping through multiple terrain types such as wet, mud, and rocky. Furthermore, the 8-mm studs provide aggressive traction while you rip through the obstacle course of your choosing. Overall, this pair is an ideal choice for OCR.

Read more

Precision Fit
Precision Fit creates an environment conducive to maximum comfort and overall stability. Also, the design utilizes the right mix of both flexibility and support; thereby, helping you to navigate, even against some of the roughest types of terrain.

Aggressive Outsole
The 8-mm studs and aggressive outsole will navigate nicely through wet, mud, and rocky terrains. Moreover, these shoes are created for easy transition between the various types of terrain found within an obstacle course race.

Cost and Value
The cost associated with this pair is mid to lower-upper. With the high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, these are worth the investment. They are designed with multiple terrains in mind. As such, the cost seems budget-friendly, even at the upper end of the range.

6. Salewa Ultra Flex Mid GTX

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Salewa Ultra Flex Mid GTX
Upper
95
Comfort
90
Midsole
93
Support
89
Outsole
94
best offer for today
$189.95
Pros:

Michelin Ultra Train Outsole

Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Lining

Flex Collar

Waterproof & Breathable Protection

3F System

Cons:

Expensive

More Suited To Speed Hiking

Firstly, this pair of trail runners takes traction to another level. With Michelin rubber at its foundation, these are sure to not only hold traction in slippery mud and/or rocky terrain but they will, also, help you to perform quickly through your course. Secondly, stability is the heart and soul of these traction go-getters; providing easier climbing situations. Overall, these are certain to be worthy of any obstacle course race.

Read more

Flex Collar
The Flex collar provides better ankle range of motion. Moreover, this design helps to add both flexibility and stability while hiking your favorite trail and course. In essence, climbing becomes less strenuous.

Michelin Ultra Train Outsole
The outsole has exceptional tread and creates a wonderful environment conducive to speed hiking, mountain training, and trail running. If your racing course is full of rocky terrain, these hikers are the way to go.

Cost and Value
This footwear ranges from mid to high-upper in cost. The traction, however, from these is amazing and worth the investment; especially, if you are serious about rocky-terrain OCR, trail running, and are mountain training.

7. New Balance Nitrel v1

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
New Balance Nitrel v1
Upper
90
Comfort
89
Midsole
93
Support
92
Outsole
90
best offer for today
$54.97
Pros:

Revlite Midsole

AT Tread Outsole

Toe Protect

Gusseted Tongue

Padded Collar & Tongue

Cons:

Durability Issues

Runs Narrow

Lacks Cushioning

These are great for light trail running. Able to withstand slick environments, this footwear is an ideal situation for those courses which are considered light. Additionally, the trail runners are equipped with a Revlite midsole and an AT Tread outsole; excellent for providing both comfort and traction. Overall, these budget-friendly shoes are a great addition to any course runner's current collection.

Read more

Revlite Midsole
First, the Revlite midsole is designed to give you comfort while you trek your trails. Furthermore, aiding in support as well, this technology serves to produce a lightweight experience. Finally, the cushioning factor helps to stabilize your feet while you perform.

AT Tread Outsole
The AT Tread outsole provides the ability to navigate through slick-type surfaces, such as low water and mud. In addition, the tread works well with light trail running and helps you to maintain traction.

Cost and Value
These are budget-friendly and easy on the wallet. Ranging from low-to-mid in cost association, this pair is perfect for light obstacle course races.

8. Adidas CF Racer TR

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.4
Adidas CF Racer TR
Upper
86
Comfort
92
Midsole
83
Support
85
Outsole
86
best offer for today
$64.95
Pros:

Cloudfoam Cushioning & Sockliner

Mesh Upper

Cloudfoam Midsole

Rubber Outsole Inserts

Budget-friendly

Cons:

Unsuitable for Heavy Use

Durability Issues

Runs Large

The Adidas CloudFoam Racer TR trail running shoe is perfect for lightweight obstacle course racing. The added rubber outsole insert serves to both provide traction and support. Additionally, these have a breathable mesh upper for dampness prevention and a three-stripe seamless strap system for more stability. Finally, these are great for light-wet, light-rocky, and light-mud situations.

Read more

Mesh Upper
The mesh upper is designed with seamless three-strip overlays to provide greater stability. In addition, this pair of trail runners is breathable. Lastly, the mesh design creates a flexible; yet, supportive environment.

Rubber Outsole Inserts
The rubber outsole inserts help to stabilize and support your feet while you race your favorite lightweight obstacle course. Moreover, they help provide traction through wet, dirt, and rocky terrain.

Cost and Value
This pair is budget-friendly. These would be a great gift for you or someone else you know having interests in OCR. With the added Cloudfoam cushioning and sockliner, these are sure to be comfortable, as well as, productive in lightweight OCR situations.

9. Salomon Speedtrak

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.2
Salomon Speedtrak
Upper
90
Comfort
88
Midsole
79
Support
77
Outsole
92
best offer for today
$114.00
Pros:

Lugs for Mud

Rubber Outsole

Quicklace Technology

Sensifit Technology

Great for Technical Racing

Cons:

Unsuitable for Long Distances

Narrow Toe Box

If you run about 3 miles (5K) or less in an OCR, then this pair will do the job. They are great for releasing mud and continue to do so with each step. The comfort factor of these requires you to not run long distances, however, as they are built better for short runs. They have decent technologies such as endoFit, Sensifit, and Quicklace. This footwear is a perfect beginner's OCR gear.

Read more

Wet Traction Lugs
The lugs are spaced apart, so as to evenly distribute and release water and mud. They handle well in multiple conditions and are durable. Their height is minimal enough that you retain decent stability, as well.

Lightweight
These are lightweight and aid in reducing overall fatigue while on your run. With the plethora of technologies in use and the structure of the shoe, this lightweight feature is fantastic.

Cost and Value
This footwear is budget-friendly and a great first timer's gear for 5K OCR. Furthermore, the traction lugs are ideal in dirt and mud conditions, as well as, steep trails. The value for the price is spot-on and worth the purchase price; that is, these are for minimal distance and they perform well.

10. Inov-8 X-Talon 212

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.6
Inov-8 X-Talon 212
Upper
83
Comfort
81
Midsole
84
Support
81
Outsole
89
best offer for today
more shops
$100.00
$99.95
See Deal
Pros:

1.25-inch Heel Height

Multiple Terrain Traction

Injected EVA Midsole

Heel Pull Loop

Textile Upper

Cons:

Not Water Resistant

Great for obstacle course racing, especially in the mud and dirt, this pair of runners are made with a 1.25-inch heel height. An injected EVA midsole helps with shock absorption and a heel pull loop assists with on and off. A textile and rubber upper helps to make these anti-abrasive and the traction is multi-terrain. Overall, we like these for OCR where mud and dirt reign.

Read more

Injected EVA Midsole
As OCR runners know, shock absorption is the key to happier feet. Furthermore, the EVA midsole does a great job at handling load-rate; thereby, your feet will thank you for a job well done.

1.25-inch Heel Height
This is a slight heel height which can add a bit more stability during your run. It is not minimalist; nor, is it a bit too much. This is a heel height that meets the happy medium between the two.

Cost and Value
Comparable to others on this list, this pair is budget-friendly. They hold up well in mud and dirt, as this applies to traction and abrasion resistance. Moreover, they are durable enough for multiple races and release mud and dirt well. This is a pair worthy of your investment.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Upper

There are two ways in which a pair of OCR shoes differs from regular running sneakers. The first, and most important one has to do with the very nature of Spartan races, which are mostly done on uneven, demanding trail courses where you’ll be required to go through muddy, wet and slippery terrain before you reach the goal. Naturally, your feet will require a higher level of protection than that which you get from your mesh road runners, which is why this type of footwear is always made with added technology in the upper that’s supposed not only to protect you, but also to ensure you have all the support you need for improved results.

Overall, trails are usually filled with small rocks, twigs and pebbles which could potentially break your shoe and cause injury. To prevent unwanted discomfort, try to purchase shoes with a stronger, anti-debris upper that won’t allow pebbles into the shoes, but also won’t tear if it’s caught on something. Trail-specific models will often include these types of additions, ranging from mud guards, toe bumpers, gusseted tongues and others.

For a higher level of protection, you may even want to look for strong overlays, but be aware that these may influence the shoe in terms of weight and drying speed. Leather is usually unsuitable for OCR, so nylon and TPR should work better. If you know you won’t be going through water, but want to stay dry in rainy conditions, you may even opt for a Gore-Tex upper which won’t allow your feet to get wet.

Nonetheless, waterproof shoes will usually not be the best choice for two reasons. For one, they’re usually heavier than their lightweight mesh counterparts, which will slow you down and cause you to be more fatigued as the race progresses. Second, if you’re ankle deep in a puddle, no amount of Gore-Tex is going to keep water out. In these cases, a shoe that has moisture wicking and quick-drying abilities is going to perform incomparably better.

Comfort

Ask any professional athlete what the main thing they want from their gear, and they’ll tell you without thinking: allowing them to perform at their best, without having to think about it. When it comes to shoes, this is most reflected in the comfort they provide. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t even know they’re there, save for the cushioning underfoot, the protection from the rugged terrain, and the support they provide under the arch.

Being made with more durable and tough materials, trail footwear will often disregard comfort factors such as flexibility, softness and breathability. But, the best pairs will offer all of these aspects. Some manufacturers even invest into research that looks at finding the best possible fit, resulting in excellent models such as the Salomon Speedcross and Speedcross CS which will not only mold to the foot, but will even support it in the medial area to offer a feeling that’s locked in and secure.

The most important thing you should look for in your next purchase is definitely the lining. You should try and get a pair of sneakers that are breathable, with moisture wicking abilities that’ll draw swear and water from the feet, letting it evaporate and preventing infections, bacterial overgrowth and blistering.

Secondly, you may want to get a pair of footwear that has some padding in the upper, namely in the collar and tongue area. The collar is important because it’s often the area which can cause the most rubbing, and sometimes even socks aren’t enough to prevent chafing. A padded tongue, on the other hand, can allow you to tightly fasten your shoes without the laces cutting into the top of your foot, making the entire run more comfortable and enjoyable.

Midsole

Regardless of the type of running you'll be doing, you need to be aware of the fact that this athletic activity puts a force 5 times your body weight on your feet. While for one landing this isn't that much, with a race or daily training, it can add up to quite a bit. To protect your body from such impact, you will want to go with footwear that's got a good amount of shock absorbing abilities which will disperse this force, saving your muscles and joints from pain and fatigue.

Most models listed above have some sort of shock absorption, from traditional EVA foam components to Air, GEL or even Wave cushioning. All of these can do a great job, and you should definitely go with what works best for you. But, this is not the only aspect of the midsole you need to look out for.

Flexibility is rather important. If the gear for your feet has no flexibility, then you will be unable to transition to various terrain types with ease. Not only can this slow you down but there is a higher potential for injury if the shoes are not flexible enough, as well. Likewise, on the other side of the same coin, sturdiness must be present. If your shoes are too flexible, they will give in when harder terrain types are faced; thus, causing potential ankle twisting, foot slippage, or some other kind of foot-related injury. Making certain your OCR shoes are balanced well in the realm of flexibility is essential.

Heel-to-toe differential refers to zero-drop, offset, and ramp angle. Zero-drop is when your heel and toes lie flat as you land; or at the very least, there is zero-drop between the heel area and forefoot. An 8mm drop means that is how much it raises your heel in comparison to the location of your forefoot. Understanding the type of race you are facing is extremely important when choosing your heel drop.

More than this, however, is making sure to know your own body. If you are a minimalist and have not been treading around in supportive shoes all of your life, zero-drop shoes might be perfect for you. If, however, you have not been running around barefoot a lot, zero-drop runners are known to cause injuries in relation; that is, many people are not ready for zero-drop footwear and an extreme obstacle course combined. If you truly desire to run in minimalist shoes, try working your way down to zero-drop. In this, you are taking care to protect your health.

Support

Regardless of the type of trail you'll be running on, you need to consider how well a pair of footwear is going to aid your feet in getting you to the finish line. For many, this means higher levels of support, namely in the heel and arch areas that can take quite a beating during any running session.

Most models on the list above are made with neutral support, meaning that they're most suited to those with a medium arch, without any pronation issues or arch-related pain. However, they definitely won't be enough for flat footed runners, nor for those who tend to overpronate, suffer from plantar fasciitis, or pain in any part of the foot. These individuals should always look for footwear that'll hug the foot from below, lifting the arch and ensuring that it isn't working overtime in order to absorb the generated shock.

It's important to note that plenty of support can also be provided by the shoe's lacing system and overlays on the upper. Oftentimes, running sneakers will have internal cages that wrap around the midfoot and are tightened through the laces, ensuring that there's enough stability so that there's no unwanted frontal movement that would lead to a lower level of stability.

Outsole

OCR footwear needs to give you the ability to traverse multiple terrain types. Furthermore, this transfer of terrain type should be doable with ease of transitional motion. If you find it difficult to transition from one terrain type to the next and you know it is the shoes, then they are not the right kind of shoes for the job. Transition with ease is the characteristic you look for. Lug traction outsoles will allow you to traverse from mud to dirt or vice versa. OCR footgear should have a lug system in place and should be considered an aggressive traction.

The tread type will determine your ability to navigate through certain ground surfaces such as wet, dirt, mud, and rocky. If your shoes have a flat waffle-like outsole, they are not going to do very well in the mud. Footgear with a nice lug system is better for mud. The bigger the lug, the more 'aggressive' the traction; generally, speaking.

When determining performance in OCR (obstacle course racing) shoes, the ability to shed dirt, rocks, and mud are critical aspects.  The further you traverse into the course, the more chance there is to gain a more massive load via unwanted hitchhikers. These hitchhikers come in the form of debris and latch onto your shoes. The more substantial your runners become, the more rigorous the course is. Fatigue begins to set in, and the race turns into a more prominent monster than it should be. The correct footwear, however, can shed dirt, rocks, and debris; thereby, allowing you to focus on the course and not on heavy hitchhikers weighing you down.

Look for lug systems which are based upon the type of race you are running; that is, do you need long lugs are shorter ones? Spacing is essential in determining whether or not your footwear will, indeed, shed the monstrous hitchhikers, as it were. If the lugs are too closely situated, then they will hold onto the dirt, instead of letting it go. Spacing is a big factor in whether or not mud will be released when you pick your foot up.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
Sort criterias acording to:
Experts Opinion Editors Opinion Users Opinion By Default
Click on a to rate the most important criteria:
1
Upper
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
2
Comfort
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
3
Midsole
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
4
Support
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
5
Outsole
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
Training Tips

Spartan Mud Runs have become one of the toughest and most sought after races for challenging runners around the world.
To help train for these races, not only will running play a part, but upper body strength will as well. Hit the gym for a few weight sessions to increase your upper body strength, or try going to a climbing gym a couple times a week for a fun way to get the arm strength needed for the race's obstacles.

Rain Or Shine

Spartan Races will go on rain or shine, so long as nothing dangerous about the weather could potentially be threatening.
When training, it's good to head out in the rain now and again for your runs, to get a little used to changing environments and temperatures, similar to what you may encounter on race day!

Other Factors to Consider

Weight

The lighter the shoe, the more natural the muddy terrain becomes. Yes, the mud will still be challenging to tread through, but adding to it with heavy footwear is not a great idea, either. In essence, it takes a lot less exertion to run in a pair of light shoes versus heavy ones. Overall, chances are you will need all the energy you can get for OCR.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: What are the best shoes for Spartan & mud runs?
a:

The best shoes for Spartan & mud runs are built to withstand the heavy demands of obstacle course running. These need to be lightweight, have multi-terrain capabilities, able to transition from one terrain to the next with ease, be supportive and stable, and provide comfortability. Additionally, they should have a tuck-away laces system and, ideally, have some water-resistant property. Finally, they should fit well and provide cushioning.

q: How do I care for my shoes?
a:

The best method is to use a soft-bristled brush, soap, and water.

  • First, if you are able, remove shoelaces, innersole, and sockliner. Check them for wear and replace as necessary.
  • Secondly, gently scrub away all dirt and debris from the shoes and loose items; as well as, removing any debris from inside of the footwear.
  • Thirdly, rinse with cold water. Do not place your shoes in a washing machine, as this will deform them and change their shape.
  • Next, let air dry. Excessive heat can ruin your trail runners, and as such, it is a good idea to place them in a shaded area without access to heaters, sun, and etc.
  • Lastly, if you have added any water-resistant system in place, reapply after your footwear is completely dry.
  • q: What is a Spartan race?
    a:

    A Spartan race consists of obstacles containing variables such as mud, dirt, and rock. These races are, typically, formulaic and individually oriented. There are three types of Spartan races designed for the beginner and on through to the most experienced. The Sprint is a 3-5 mile race, the Super Spartan is 8+ miles, and the Ultra Beast is 12+ miles. Each of these races has added obstacles, accordingly.

    q: What is a mud run?
    a:

    A Tough Mudder race is similar in terrain variables, but this is where the similarities end. Tough Mudder events do not run off of the clock but are about the team completing the course. Approximately 78% of team participants complete the 10-12 miles of 20-25 obstacles. Furthermore, these obstacle courses are more inventive than the formulaic barriers offered by a Spartan race.

    q: What kind of shape do I need to be in to participate in one of these races?
    a:

    As with any exercise, it is first recommended you seek out a health care professional to determine your ability to participate in one of these events. If, however, your doctor has already given the thumbs up, then it is best to work your way up. Training means a daily regimen of endurance-boosting and strength-conditioning activities such as walking, jogging, running, burpees, planks, push-ups, pull-ups, and squats are a great start. Most of all, however, you need to be always aware of your base fitness level before entering one of these demanding events.

    q: Which type of race is the most difficult, Spartan or mud runs?
    a:

    The Spartan race offers the Sprint which is a far-shorter distance than the 10-12 mile Tough Mudder. If, however, we are discussing equal distance in miles, the Tough Mudder would be the easier of the two; since, Tough Mudder races are team-based. Also, the Spartan races have burpee penalties. For example, if you fail at a rope obstacle, be prepared to dish out 30 burpees before being allowed to move on.

    q: Which race would I have more fun in, Spartan or mud run?
    a:

    The answer lies in what you consider to be fun. Spartan races are individually oriented. As such, these races are for those searching out a pure racer experience and quality from the course. Tough Mudder, on the other hand, is team-oriented. It is about what entices you into the realm of being fun. If you are after a pure race, then the Spartan challenges are for you. If, however, you are driven by the spirit of a team, then the obvious choice is the Tough Mudder. Both are fun in their unique way and bring with them their own unique sets of challenges.

    q: Are there any other preparations I should be aware of before entering a Spartan race or mud run?
    a:

    First and foremost, the week before, it is strongly recommended you get lots of rest and stretch out thoroughly. Secondly, on the night preceding race time, you should hydrate well and eat plenty of carbohydrates. Next, be sure to pack energy bars and water into your pockets; especially, for more extended events. You do not want to weigh yourself down, but these events are not known for catering to your run, either. The exhibition may offer you a single cup of water and nothing more. For more extended games, I would recommend you pack, accordingly.

    In addition to the physical preparations, you should always mentally prepare. These obstacle course races can take a heavy psychological toll on you. As such, you should spend your time working out the mental aspects of what you might be facing. Although there might be a seemingly impossible rope climb up ahead, it is not there to see if you can do it; but rather, it is there to see if you are willing to do something not expected. This same-like scenario exists in all obstacle course races. Mental preparation is part of the keys to success.

    Finally, bring a cheer squad with you. If you do not have to trek it alone, don't. It is mentally easier to make it through the more robust parts of obstacle course races when you can hear someone cheering you on, as opposed to self-cheering while you are exhausted. Support can be the difference in how much we are willing to go that extra mile; especially, when we are new to the sport. There is nothing wrong or shameful about bringing along a supporting cast.

    If, however, there is no one with you during your drive to conquer the latest course, try and utilize a competitor or teammate for support. Since Spartan races are individually oriented, it is a good idea to choose someone who paces with you. Together, you can drive each other to the next obstacle and on through to the end of the race. I call it competitive sportsmanship, per se.

    Sources

    1. Bienkowski, S., What I Discovered Running My First Spartan Race, Article, Apr 09, 2015
    2. Stott, M., What to Expect From Your First Spartan Race , Article, Mar 09, 2017
    3. Greenfield, B., 10 Things I Tell Anyone Who Wants To Do A Spartan Race, Article, Jun 16, 2015
    4. Dollen, RJ., 13 Tips for Mud Run Rookies, Article,
    5. Beil, L., The Dangers of a Mud Run, Article, Feb 06, 2013
    6. Miller, A., Should You Try Obstacle Course Racing?, Article, Sep 12, 2017
    7. Held, L., Spartan vs. Tough Mudder How The Top Mud Challenges Compare, Article, Aug 19, 2013
    8. Betsy, Comparing The Big Three: Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder & Spartan Race, Article, May 30, 2014