Dirt in your skirt blog

The Path of ReWilding Through Obstacle Racing

Posted on July 29, 2015 by Margaret Schlachter


Rewilding is a term entered into my lexicon recently. If you do a google search on the term you will find a variety of definitions and explanations on what this term means. It can cover restoring and protecting lands but also it can be applied to humans. This application to humans is the one I am most interested in.  A quick visit to rewild.com defines this verb as “to reverse the process of domestication and to return to a more wild or self-willed state.”

This process of returning to a more wild or self-willed state as well as reversing domestication is the most intriguing. I have been diving into the world of rewilding for years but only recently had the language to properly describe the journey. In any interviews and in my book I have said obstacle racing unlocks our primal self and gets us out of the cubicle.

While many in the rewilding world might look at obstacle racing and mud runs as an artificial contrived experience, for many it can be the first step or the crack in the door open to the world of Rewilding without even knowing it. How? Obstacle racing and mud runs get many of us connected to the ground for the first time since childhood or for some urban dwellers for the first time ever.  We are thrown obstacles that make us use our body. We have to make conscious decisions about movement as we crawl, climb, hoist, balance and jump. Movement becomes something more than a barbell lift, clicks on a keyboard, or the walk to and from our car to the office. Once we open the door to movement we start to see the deficiencies in our daily routine, maybe you get a ball to sit on at work instead of a chair, or opt for a standing desk. For others maybe it’s the decision to park further away from the door or take a bike to work. While others on the more extreme end will make career changes that bring them more inline with nature and their natural sense of self.


Next you might find yourself examining your diet, sleep, exercise, and think of ways to incorporate training and a healthier lifestyle into all aspects of life. This might not lead to a rewilding for you or maybe it will. At least it will get you thinking.

Once we open the door to rewilding we open the door to cultivating our feral mind. This feral mind is one full of adaptation, we become more adaptable to all our environments whatever they maybe. Things that once presented themselves as problems in life, you find yourself looking for solutions. Instead of getting bogged down in the negative in the world you might find yourself actively looking to improve the things around you.

For those who become fully invested in the rewilding world you might find yourself rethinking movement, posture, diet, lifestyle, relationships, and more. It can all start with a simple step to take on that first mud run or obstacle race.


From my experience obstacle racing was a reawakening. It shook me out of the system and out of the machine. It let me see a whole different view on life. Yes, it is just running in the mud and to many it is still just a silly thing, it can be that. But for many it can also be something different. I joked for years with friends that obstacle racing was the collector of lost souls, we all drifted into the sport seeking something else and something more in life. The challenges we faced on course often reflected those in our personal lives. Ultimately, most of us found the biggest struggle was overcoming ourselves and seeing us for who we really were, the good and the bad.  All this from an obstacle course, sounds extreme from the outside and can only be felt by those individually.

Obstacle racing was the thing I needed and it appeared at the right time in 2010. It opened new avenues to me, and after a couple months of immersing myself in the rewilding world, I found it was the stepping stone that opened up the full possibilities of rewilding. It has helped me to cultivate my feral mind. It helped me push past the programmed life it is so easy to get stuck in. Understanding and reflecting on the journey that is obstacle racing can mean many things to many people. It might just be something you do once and click it off your bucket list and for others it can be the catalyst for change in all aspects of life.


For those interested in learning about rewilding I highly suggest listening to the Rewild Yourself! podcast