Obstacle Course Racing 101


So you’ve seen epic pictures of your friends jumping over fire or covered in mud on facebook. But what are these events that everyone is getting into? There are two different kinds of events in the obstacle course world. First off you should know the official acronym for obstacle course races/racing is OCR. You can either run an obstacle course races or you can do a mud run. A race is a timed event and a mud run has no timing chips and is seen as more for fun or team based event. However, they can be just as gruelling as a race based on the number of obstacles involved, their degree of difficulty or the actual race distance.

Here is a sample of a list of events and links to each race’s website.

Obstacle Course Race & Mud Runs

Spartan Race & Spartan Race Canada
Mud Hero
OCR World Championship
X Man Race
Dead End Race
Savage Race
Rugged Maniac – you can actually choose to be timed or not!
Civilian Military Combine
Tough Mudder
Warrior Dash
Dirty Girl Mud Run
Prison Break Race
Gladiator Rock N Run
Tough Guy
Bone Frog Challenge

*This list is by no means all encompassing. There are always new races popping up every day!

However there are resources like Mud and Adventure that list all adventure and obstacle course races by region and dates so you have everything at your fingertips to choose an obstacle course race near to you (or far if you want to travel) or that appeals to you.

How Do You Train for an OCR or Mud Run?

Functional fitness and overall conditioning is really important. While muscle strength is important, muscle endurance becomes more of a focus. If you are a fan of the gym and weight lifting a great option is challenging your body by increasing reps and decreasing weight for a week to switch up which muscle fibres are being used. Trying out a functional workout with a gym or trying out coaches that will put you through circuit training and functional fitness workouts will definitely get you ready for what your body goes through in an obstacle course.

Key Exercises

  • Pull Ups – will help you gain the strength you need to pull yourself up and over high walls
  • Squats – leg strength for walking carries involving sand bags or heavy buckets
  • Bear Crawls – for speed getting through barbed wire crawls

Standard Obstacles You May Encounter

  • Rope Climb
  • Barbed Wire Crawl
  • 5-8 foot Walls
  • Fire Jump
  • Heavy Object Carry (bucket or sandbags typical)
  • Monkey Bars

What Gear is Essential?

  • Trail Shoes – race courses can be on ski hills, through trails, forests or wide open tracks. Most courses get really muddy and trail shoes are imperative for grip so you don’t slip everywhere.
  • Durable clothing you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Compression Socks – they actually protect your legs from getting torn up when doing barbed wire crawls on the ground
  • Compression Top – tight to the body for support and won’t get caught on obstacles
  • Headband – keeps the hair out of your eyes while running, jumping into mud puddles or in and out of water obstacles.
  • Gels – for races longer than 5km these are important for staying fuelled while out on course. If a race is over 6km you may be out there for over an hour so will need at least one gel to stay fueled.
  • Hydration Pack – for longer races like the Spartan Super or Beast carrying water proves helpful when hauling yourself up and down ski hills. Although there are water stations out on course this allows you to sip as you go so you don’t have to worry about dehydration.

If you are training for an OCR race this summer let us know which one by tagging us @tfmagonline #trainingandfitness and let us know how training and the race goes in social media!

Robyn Baldwin is a self branded Alpha Female™. She is a former CFL cheerleader and fitness competitor, a published fitness model and writer, an eBook author, a FitFluential ambassador, a sponsored athlete with Magnum Nutraceuticals and a marketing manager. Robyn craves being busy, is a fan of women in the gym who embrace lifting weights, a yoga enthusiast, a runner, an obstacle racer, a spin instructor and fascinated with the nutritional side of health.

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