Survival Runs go beyond Burpees and Standard Obstacles to Immerse Racers in real life Survival Skills


Climbing trees in a volcanic jungle in Nicaragua – Making a fire with a bow drill like the native hunter gatherer peoples of West Texas – Crafting a boat and swimming from island to island in Puerto Rico 

photo by Guillermo Brenes Bolaños
photo by Guillermo Brenes Bolaños

These and numerous other challenges comprise the series of tasks that participants of Fuego y Agua Survival Runs must conquer in order to finish. This October 5th, a new kind of obstacle course race will be coming to Texas. Taking place in the treacherous and unforgiving terrain of west Texas, the Survival Run: Hunter Gatherer will integrate primitive survival skills into the 50k and 100k distance races. Competitors will have to prove proficient in bow drill fire making, making and shooting a bow and arrow, finding and filtering water, and even fashioning their own sandals which they will have to run the race in. The objective of the Survival Run: Hunter Gatherer is to take the participants out of their comfort zone and into the unknown by challenging them to use and master primitive skills that the peoples indigenous to the region had to use on a daily basis.

What is a daunting task and an unfamiliar challenge to the racer is just an everyday chore to the locals. All challenges are based on the unique survival skills of peoples indigenous to the locations of each Survival Run, whether it be the Survival Run: Nicaragua on the jungle volcanoes of Ometepe, the harsh, savage, and unforgiving terrain of west Texas as featured in Survival Run: Hunter Gatherer, or the deceitfully inviting beauty of the Puerto Rican coasts of the Survival Run: Islander. The race designers at Fuego y Agua want to challenge runners by setting up unfamiliar obstacles and difficult tasks that take the competitors out of their comfort zone and into the unfamiliar. When you take part in most races, you receive a medal; when you compete in a Survival Run you gain real survival skills.

Dave Gluhareff, and endurance athlete and Director of Team VPX Extreme, recalls a time at Survival Run: Nicaragua this past February when he was struggling to carry a 50 lb bundle of firewood along a five mile stretch of the course and a petite, elderly lady, who was a native of Ometepe, walked by him and laughed with good natured humor as she trotted easily along with a 50+ pound bundle on her own back. After ribbing him a bit about how much he was struggling with his 50lbs of sticks, she offered him some advice on how to carry it. When Gluhareff realized that she was carrying her load home to use as fuel with which to cook her family’s meals and that it was just a daily chore to her, he was struck by the tremendous ability to adapt that humans are capable of. Survival is about adapting and adaptation is about learning and growing.

There is an old story of a man who lifted a bull calf every day of its life from birth on and in this way he trained and grew in strength every day and then one day found that he was able to pick up a full grown bull. When we take the time to challenge ourselves to do hard things and to learn new things everyday, we grow in strength and skill. Survival Run was born from the idea that whoever you are, wherever or whenever you live, whatever the circumstances of your life, you can find things to do to stay fit. Find ways to challenge yourself in your everyday life–don’t just take the stairs, run them. Don’t just park far away from the store, run a few laps around the parking lot before go in for the groceries–or better yet, ride or run to the store. Even this computerized, automated wifi soup that we call modern life can offer a multitude of ways to challenge our bodies and recharge our minds, if we just take the time to be present, observe our surroundings and choose the challenge.

photo by Guillermo Brenes Bolaños
photo by Guillermo Brenes Bolaños

To learn more about Fuego y Agua Survival Runs, please visit


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