The Birth and Growth of The Tuscaloosa Gauntlet

The Tuscaloosa Gauntlet is the hardest thing I’ve ever physically done.” Those are words we heard from a returning runner prepping for this year’s race. The Tuscaloosa Gauntlet is a 5-mile challenge through rigorous terrain complete with a Military-style obstacle course. The third annual event will be held in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on March 23, 2024 at Buddy Powell Pavilion. Individuals and teams of four are eligible to compete. There’s even a modified kid’s version of the race for the future soldiers!

“It was hatched within the Alabama Marines Foundation, which is a charitable 501C3 that helps veterans,” said race director Lee Busby, a U.S. Marine and Tuscaloosa City Councilman. “As Marines, we all go through an extreme training exercise called, ‘The Endurance Course,’ which is several miles of intense obstacles and running through rough terrain. There is a love hate relationship with it. It tests you mentally and physically, but when you finish there is a great sense of accomplishment,” he added. In a recent interview, Busby said he and some fellow Marines were reminiscing about that proud feeling back in 2020 when the idea to bring a similar race to Tuscaloosa was born.

Since the course would have strong military roots, Busby said it was essential the name paid proper homage. Although he doesn’t recall who exactly came up with “Tuscaloosa Gauntlet,” he remembers unanimous support from the founding event team. The word gauntlet has two meanings. The first is a glove worn with medieval armor to protect the hands during battle. The second is, “a double file of men facing each other armed with clubs to strike at an individual who is made to run between them.” While the latter of course IS NOT one of the obstacles of the event, Busby told us both meanings brought the “tough element,” the team was looking for.

The course was built by Warr Construction in the fall of 2021. The inaugural Tuscaloosa Gauntlet was held in the spring of 2022 with around 270 contestants. The goal was to grow the course in size and participants each year. The second year, the team did just that by gaining more than 150 additional entries. This year, Col. Busby has his target set on hitting over 500 competitors. While anyone can compete, an extra emphasis is being put on gaining more military representation this year.

“I hope this will become a known event for military units around the south who want to come do it,” Busby said.

See the trailer from the Inaugural Tuscaloosa Gauntlet in 2022!

Various military branches are represented in the challenge. Just some of the obstacles that will stand between runners and the finish line are an Air Force Batman Rappel Wall, a 100-meter Marine Obstacle Course, a 25-feet Navy Seal Cargo Net Climb, and an Army Airborne Weaver Drill.

See the trailer from the 2023 Tuscaloosa Gauntlet!

Participants will finish the race with a 50-yard mud crawl followed by an ice plunge. Runners who complete the challenge will receive medals in the form of dog tags. Top winners in the men’s, women’s and team’s heats will be awarded exclusive Tuscaloosa Gauntlet trophies. There is still time to register at Use the code VisitTCL at checkout to receive $10.00 off. We can’t wait to see if you have what it takes to conquer the Tuscaloosa Gauntlet!

Be sure to check out the latest trailer for The Tuscaloosa Gauntlet 2024!

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