Extreme athletes banded together to design Spartan Races' intense courses orchestrated over standardized distances, each strewn with natural and man-made obstacles to test mind-body fitness, resilience, stamina, and strength, designed to leave participants exhausted and exhilarated. In waves of 200, runners collect smudges and stains as they perform box jumps, haul heavy sandbags, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as 3 miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.
Appalachian Wilderness Guides leads avid adventurers on Mother Nature explorations and mountainous hikes. Teaming with northern Georgia wineries, the wine-tasting trek whisks vino-lovers through Georgia vineyards, helmed by a tour guide and including a palate-pleasing tasting with accompanying snacks. For the wide-eyed wilderness warrior, the family camping trip provides one night of mind-melding with the outdoors in a provided tent with sleeping bags. Start with a brisk day hike, and then finish with a campfire to nibble on hot dogs, hamburgers, and marshmallows. Along the way, Appalachian Wilderness Guides participate as little or as much as you like, meaning its leaders can leave after setting up the tent or stay to tell campfire stories about the Supreme Court justices who are lurking in the woods. All guides of the uneven grounds are certified in wilderness first-aid, CPR, and Leave No Trace Outdoors Ethics, ensuring the safe removal of unnecessary waste.
Skiing. Snowboarding. Canoeing. Rock climbing. Horseback riding. To someone with a physical disability, activities like these might seem impossible. Yet Eric Gray, founder of Catalyst Sports, has taught disabled individuals how to perform each one?plus a few others. At Catalyst, Eric and his team empower people to not only overcome physical disabilities, but also to thrive with them.
The organization provides unique recreational opportunities to individuals of all ages and ability levels, including adaptive rock climbing programs. In fact, Catalyst has grown into the largest such adaptive climbing program in the country. It has done so, in large part, by hosting frequent events and fundraisers, which are far better ways to raise money than playing the same Roman numerals in the lottery every week.
With their jagged ridges, multicolored faces, and thousands of holds affixed seemingly at random, the rock walls at Stone Summit look like cubist installations large enough to fill a small warehouse. Follow any series of holds up to the top of these expressionist monuments, though, and scores of individual routes emerge, offering challenges for everyone from entry-level beginners to the most seasoned scaler. Climbers can seek out the tops of routes as high as 60 feet off the facility floor, and bouldering enthusiasts have an entire room filled with near-horizontal overhangs and brain-teasing bouldering problems perfect for studying for the rock-climbing portion of the SAT. The facility complements its climbing focus with a range of non-climbing exercise opportunities, including treadmills, weight machines, and yoga classes.
BADASS Dash’s organizers live in a world of imagination. Where others see cargo nets, they see giant webs to be scaled. School buses become climbing walls and bales of hay turn into tunnels filled with grass and mud. In city after city, they place 30+ of these obstacles along a 7-kilometer course, and invite individuals and teams to compete against each other in elite matches, or beat their personal best in recreational races. Afterward, the organizers throw a celebratory bash filled with bonfires, food, and prizes for top finishers. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit the charity Autism Speaks.
When autumn strikes, the air might grow cooler, but the sun really shines on Mitcham Farm. That's the time of year that the farm truly comes to life, keeping families busy with a full day's worth of farm activities. Trusty hayrides circle the entire grounds, showcasing the fields of pick-your-own pumpkins, the giant sand pile and mountain slide, and the corn canons. It also gives a ground-level view of a seven-acre maze cut into the corn. If guests decide to navigate the twisting stalks, they'll have to use their powers of deduction by solving clues pertaining to a mystery or determining which scarecrow is most likely to accept bribes.
When night falls on weekends, hayrides meander to the bonfire pit where guests can warm hands and cook marshmallows over the flickering flames. Of course, a hayride isn't your only option when it comes to touring the grounds––helicopter rides also whisk guests over the verdant property to give them a bird's eye view of all the autumn festivities below.