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Best Adventure Runs in the Five Boroughs

By Mathew Katz | July 24, 2012 6:52am

NEW YORK CITY — New York City is about to host some of the most gruelling, dirty races around.

As mud runs like the Tough Mudder and the Warrior Dash gain popularity, more New Yorkers are making the trek upstate to participate in the obstacle-filled races.

But you don't have to leave the five boroughs to challenge yourself to an adventure race that pushes you to your physical and mental limits.

Many of the city's most unique runs kick off in early September, which means now is the time to sign up before they fill up. And it's also a great time to start training for some of the most intense urban races around.

Perhaps the most strenuous is the Goruck Challenge, an 8-10 hour, 15-20 mile overnight race around the city run by former military special operations trainers.

The grueling run has a special twist — you have to lug around a backpack full of approximately 35 pounds of bricks the whole time.

Part guided tour, part team-building exercise, the route of each challenge is revealed only when the race begins — immediately after a boot-camp style set of exercises designed to break you down.

Past challenges have involved lots of push-ups, swims in the East River and even dragging a giant log around the city. At the end of each of them, participants are encouraged to enjoy as much beer as they're able to stay awake for.

Founded by Green Beret Jason McCarthy, Goruck is a military-grade backpack company that runs the challenges in cities across the country.

But New York has a special place in the organization's heart — the challenge always pays homage to the victims of 9/11 at Ground Zero.

The event kicks off at 8 p.m. on Fri. Sept. 7 and will cost you $160.

If military-style marathons aren't your thing, you may want to try the Urban Dare Adventure Race, which tells participants that it's "the race where smarts can beat speed."

On Sept. 22, teams of two will travel the city trying to solve a set of 12 mysteries using clues that lead them to checkpoints where they'll have to perform a dare.

Some dares take inspiration from the world of mud runs — such as wall climbs. Others are more traditional — posing for photos in elaborate positions or even eating questionable foods.

Participants have to photograph each dare throughout the 2 to 5 hour race around the city, which kicks off in Midtown at 11 a.m. and costs $90 per two-person team.

Finally, if you're looking for a more traditional mud run within New York City, the Down & Dirty National Mud and Obstacle Series is coming to The Bronx on Sept. 30.

With two races — a 5K and a 10K — the event is great for both experienced adventurers and newcomers. Both courses wind their way through Pelham Bay Park at Orchard Beach, through forests and fields you wouldn't expect to find in the city.

At the end of the course is the main event — slogging through gallons of mud that will separate the true competitors from the also-rans.

After wiping off, both races conclude with a huge burger bash.

The 10K race kicks off at 8:15 a.m. on Sept. 30, and the 5K starts at 9:30 a.m. Registration fees range from $65-$75.