Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Kinesiology




Camille O'Bryant


This study explored the psychological and sociological motivations of adult female and male obstacle course racers. A qualitative case study approach was used to explore the views, experiences, and motivations of obstacle course racing (OCR) participants. Descriptive statistics and cross tabulation was used to interpret responses to the 297 online questionnaires. A content analysis approach was used to analyze the qualitative data gathered from three focus groups with a total of 20 obstacle course racers. Three theories formed the basis of the study: Self-Determination Theory (SDT), Achievement Goal Theory (AGT), and Social Leaning Theory (SLT). Overall, findings supported previous research regarding motivations to participate in adventure racing and extreme sports. Individuals were guided more by intrinsic motives than extrinsic motives. Important motivations for obstacle course racers included the camaraderie among participants, connecting and socializing with other like-minded people, having fun, and having a physical challenge that allowed them to progress and keep on track with their health goals. Obstacle course racing was perceived as positively impacting participants’ health, mental wellness and their confidence in their physical abilities as well as in other areas of their lives. Findings from this study may inform future interventions to increase participation in OCR or to increase overall physical activity among adults by building on camaraderie, social connection, enjoyment, and self-efficacy.