Castaways must race through a series of obstacles. When used tribally, the first tribe to complete the course wins. Typically, when used individually, castaways have to collect items, often the items they collect unlock or are used to solve a puzzle.
The challenge was first used as a tribal Immunity Challenge in Survivor: Borneo. Each tribe had two pairs racing through obstacles. The first pair runs the first half of the course that involves swinging on a rope and scaling a wall before meeting up with the second pair at an obstacle called the blown bridge where they had to use a small amount of boards to make bridges to move all four members across the pylons without touching the sand. Once they reach the other side, they will run the second half of the course. First tribe across the finish line wins immunity. It was a close race, but Tagi won by a matter of seconds.
A different type of challenge was later used as a Reward Challenge in Borneo, when the castaways must go through a web course with 16 legs, each leg had a medallion with the castaways number on it. First castaway to get back to the center of the course with all of their 16 medallions wins. If they fall off the course once, they are automatically out from the challenge. Colleen won, beating Kelly by a matter of seconds, and shared the reward with Jenna where they would enjoy a barbecue feast and receive letters from home.
The challenge reappeared in Survivor: The Australian Outback. The final 8 were split up into pairs of two, where two pairs would face off. The winners of each heat would then verse each other in a final heat. Jerri and Colby won the Reward Challenge. They won a helicopter ride to the Great Barrier Reef, where they would enjoy a feast of delicious food and a day of snorkeling.
In Survivor: Africa, the players are teamed up in four pairs of two. Two pairs at a time, the players run an obstacle course. The pairs start by going over a cargo net and across a timber tumble followed by going up a rope climb by climbing up a rope or rope ladder to ring a bell. Next they go under a belly crawl leading to three walls for the pairs to jump over. They must then assemble a ladder for them to climb over the fourth and final wall which is ten feet high. The two pairs to finish first in either of the first two heats go on to the final round in which they must run the same course. The pair that finishes first in the final round wins. Brandon and Frank compete in the first heat against Kim P. and Tom. Both pairs are even up until the ladder assembly which leads Brandon and Frank to the final round. In the second heat, Ethan and Kim J. race against Lex and Teresa. Although Lex and Teresa have the lead in the wall jumps, Ethan and Kim J. come from behind in the ladder assembly and move on to the final round against Brandon and Frank. Kim P., Lex, Teresa, and Tom watch with laughter as Brandon and Frank take the lead and, in the end, win the challenge for a movie night-out and eat-all-you can feast.
In Survivor: Thailand, the final 8 were divided into pairs, where the winning pair of each leg would face the winner of the other leg, leaving only one pair left. The last pair would face each other in a puzzle. In the end it came down between Brian and Helen. Brian won a video of his loved one (his wife) from home.
In Survivor: Pearl Islands, the challenge took place at the wreck of an old Spanish galleon. The castaways must team up in pairs to complete two rounds. Each pair must race up a cargo net, and then swing on a rope to the other side of the ship. Then they must climb up to a crow's nest and slide down a large canvas sail. The winning pairs would then play against each other, but to make it more difficult, they must carry bags of puzzle pieces that they must assemble at the end of the course. The pair to win the final round wins reward. The final round was between the team of Burton and Lillian and the team of Rupert and Jon. It was a tight race; however, Burton and Lillian finished the puzzle first, winning reward which was a deep-sea fishing trip.
In Survivor: All-Stars, the castaways would compete in two teams of four. They must fight through twigs, navigate a series of balance beams, and participate in a belly crawl. Then they must climb a 10-foot wall, build a bridge and cross it, use a rope ladder to climb to a tower and cross a rope bridge. One team member must wait while the rest descend a ladder and dig out a buried flag. Once the flag is dug up, the one left waiting must zip down a line to grab a key. Then use the key to unlock a gate, allowing the team members to pass through and cross the finish line. The team of Alicia, Amber, Rob M., and Shii Ann dominated the challenge since the beginning and won letters from home, raincoats, and the right to compete for immunity.
It was the final five Immunity Challenge in Survivor: Cook Islands. The castaways had to race through an eight station obstacle course, collecting a puzzle bag at each station. Once they had collected all the bags they would have to use the puzzle pieces inside them to build a three-dimensional compass rose puzzle. This puzzle was stated by Jeff Probst to be the hardest puzzle in the first 13 seasons of Survivor. Yul initially had the lead but Ozzy eventually overtook him and finished his puzzle first, winning his fourth Immunity Challenge.
In Survivor: One World, the final five had to open a gate stuck by knots, cross a maze and pick up bags of puzzle pieces strung on a network. After assembling the puzzle, would decipher clues that would give them three numbers. Then climb up to a platform, use the three numbers to unlock a key and raise the flag. Chelsea had the lead after the network, but fell behind in the puzzle, and after three attempts Kim won.
In Survivor: Blood vs. Water, it was for Final Immunity Challenge, where the castaways would race through an obstacle course and a water slide to retrieve six bags of puzzle pieces, two at a time. They would then use the pieces to solve a puzzle which would give them clues to solve a combination lock. The first castaway to unlock the combination lock and raise their flag would win. Tyson easily won the challenge, granting a spot at the Final Tribal Council.
The challenge re-appeared as the final six Reward Challenge in Survivor: San Juan del Sur and was created by a 13-year-old boy named Austin who was part of "Make a Wish" foundation, whose wish to create a challenge for Survivor. Called the "Elemental Obstacle Course", this iteration featured an "Earth" section where the team of castaways, tethered together in chains, had to race through a haystack, a "Water" section where the team collected a pail of water, an "Air" section where the team carries the pail over a teeter-totter to then lower puzzle pieces, and a "Fire" section, where the team assembles the red puzzle pieces to spell out the phrase "Blood vs. Water". The Yellow Team (Baylor, Jaclyn, and Natalie) had no problem in passing through the course, while the Blue Team (Jon, Keith, and Missy) was slowed down by Missy injuring her ankle in the teeter-totter, but managed to finish the puzzle first in a close race against the other team.
Another version of the challenge was used as the Final Immunity Challenge in San Juan del Sur, where Jaclyn won.
In Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, the challenge was used as the final six Reward/Immunity Challenge. David won the challenge, winning immunity and a steak dinner (though Jay used the Reward Steal advantage and stole the steak dinner from David, he choose David and Adam to join him on the steak dinner).
In Survivor: Game Changers, the challenge was used with three tribes of six. Nuku came in first place winning immunity, a tarp, and had a choice of comfort items or seasonings; they choose the former. The new tribe Tavua came in second place and won immunity and the seasonings. After Tavua won, Troyzan went to the other side of the puzzle board and successfully grabbed the Hidden Immunity Idol without being seen by his tribe mates.
- Every person, except Kelley Wentworth and David Wright, who won this challenge for an individual challenge ended up being the highest placing member of their original tribe.
- Ten players (in order of first appearance Jenna Lewis, Gervase Peterson, Amber Brkich, Tina Wesson, Tom Buchanan, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Rupert Boneham, Ozzy Lusth, J.T. Thomas, and Keith Nale) have competed in this challenge in multiple seasons.
- With Colleen Haskell winning the challenge in Borneo, this was the first time that a female won an individual challenge.