Over the past decade, there has been significant growth in the world of obstacle course racing (OCR). While the title might conjure up memories of monkey bars and playgrounds, OCR is actually an adult activity, aimed at those over the age of sixteen who want to challenge themselves physically in a fun and exciting way.
There is now a huge demand for such activities, leading to the creation of nationwide competitions, such as Tough Mudder and Spartan Race. These intense courses welcome contestants every year, many of whom train and complete the races as a way to raise money for charity. Some will attempt the challenges solo, putting their physical ability to the test as a personal challenge, while others will join up as a group, whether as a team-building exercise or to bring attention to a subject of mutual interest.
Each course and event can vary, with some requiring contestants to overcome densely-packed and difficult obstacles while others spread out much further, even over miles, to truly test individual endurance. Obstacles can also be quite different, depending on which event is attended, though many will make use of navigating mud, climbing steep walls, and clambering over uneven terrain. Those who complete the challenge are generally rewarded, while some events will even offer special prizes to the top performers.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then it might be time to find your nearest event. However, before you head to the local park and begin getting muddy, it is important that you understand what gear will be needed for your training and event. Those who spend time preparing as such, will generally go much further.
One of the most important pieces of equipment to ensure you have is a changing robe. Prior to a race, you will want to ensure that your body, especially your hands, are kept warm. Then, once a race is complete, your body will need to recover, which is where the insulation and breathability of high-quality waterproof dry robes come into play, helping to restore your body’s temperature, even on a cold day.
Footwear is another crucial item of clothing and choosing the right pair of trainers will not only keep you comfortable during the race but can also give you an advantage, being more waterproof and with sturdier tread.
While the necessity of certain accessories is up for debate, with regular OCR attendees each likely having their own advice, a water bottle is considered a must-have. Most events will have water refill stations and will actively encourage contestants to stay hydrated since the physical toll of the races is significant.
Depending on what you want to accomplish from each OCR event, there are other items that might be useful. Smartwatches, promising they are built for adventure, can be useful for those who want to track their performance with greater detail. Headbands and hats are generally worn by those with longer hair, however, experienced competitors will likely recommend them to ensure sweat does not collect on the face.
If you still aren’t sure that you are suitably equipped before your first race, then simply talk to those who have competed before. The OCR community is known for its warm welcome and many competitors will be eager to help you get started.