Designing an Obstacle Course

Before you can even decide what obstacles you’re going to include you first need to find a site. Sounds simple but what you have to consider is whether the land you like the look of is available to use and whether it’s suitable to house the peripheral considerations like access, car parking, toilets, catering, entrance/exit, utilities (running water or electricity) and possibly security if it’s on public land.

Once you’ve chosen your site (with approval) you then need to look at the route itself. This may be easy if you’re just going to use 1 large field but gets more complex if it’s cross country and crosses roads and public areas (like ours). A cross-country style event can have it’s obvious advantages like mud, hills and water but it can also have its disadvantages like access to construction materials, an increased risk of injury, too dry with no way to make it wet or fields that you can’t have access to are a few of the considerations.

Once you’ve finalised the route (start, finish, car parking, toilets, registration, bag drop off and first aid location) it’s then onto the exciting part of designing the obstacles. This is where a cross country route can help because you can use the terrain as natural obstacles or enhance them to make it more challenging. If you’re using a field then you have a blank canvas to go crazy with.

One of the important parts of obstacle design is who you’re hoping to get to attend. Are you looking for the hardcore Spartans or more the Pretty Muddy types or somewhere in between (a bit like us).

A very big factor in obstacle design is obviously budget, this is especially true on setting up the first one (like us) and the more man made it is the bigger the costs. Unless you’re a builder then costs can spiral unless you get creative by using free things like nature, tyres and pallets and spend a bit of cash on scaffolding to give a bit of flair to the event. If you’re lucky maybe your hosts or sponsors will help you out.

Your hosts may also be a deciding factor in not only what obstacle you have but also where you can put it and when you can start to build your course. This could obviously be a sticking point and affect the feel of your course.

So we’ve done our route and our obstacle design, next up is sourcing materials (and storing of them). Making use of contacts and the internet and keeping your eyes peeled for that stack of pallets or tyres that need a home an interesting game to play in the car! These all need a new home so unless you have access to a warehouse (more expense), a large field or barn then it’s a case of logistics as you build up to the big day.

It may be prudent to do a pre-build to see how/if the obstacle works as you don’t want if failing on the day. This will also give you an idea about not only how long it takes to put together but also how many “builders” you’ll need because you may only have limited access before and after the event (like us).

As you’ve just read there’s a lot that goes on before the big day and we’re into the second half where we’ve got or obstacles awaiting final approval and we’re looking for pre-run storage, doing some pre-run building and obviously lots of promotional work.

Come and have a go if you want to!! We would love to see you there.