An OCR is an Obstacle Course Race and does exactly what it says on the packet- obstacle courses, racing and throw in a bit (or a lot) of mud and you have an OCR! If you are an endurance athlete that is looking for their next new challenge, an OCR should be a definite contender. Whilst running a marathon has long been the ultimate goal of many, running along a monotonous route can get a little boring. In addition to this, with modern living allowing us to be increasingly lazy, it’s going to take more than running along a pavement to tempt us off our butts! This has paved the way for a new sport that combines the challenge of running long distances with the added fun of rope climbing, throwing a spear, climbing a wall and more of that mud. Do you need more persuading?
Who can take part in an OCR race?
Another benefit of an OCR that has helped to drive its popularity, is that anyone can get involved. Not only are they a spectacle to watch, but anyone can sign up to have a go. Whilst there are some athletes that take it very seriously and compete in an OCR with years of training and experience behind them, this sport is amatear friendly. Generally speaking, there is an estimated 500m-800m distance between each obstacle, but you can always walk these parts. The obstacles themselves do also involve a fair bit of upper body strength and endurance, if you are not competing you can always take the penalty and skip the ones you can’t manage.
Tough Mudder and Spartan are two of the most well-known OCR’s and they put on a number of races each year that range from 3 to 30 miles, with obstacles from simple army crawls to crawling under live electrical wire. So when you put your name down for an OCR, make sure you know your ability and what you are signing up for!
What can I expect in an OCR?
As it hints at with the name, you will definitely be encountering obstacles during your race. Obstacles are typically dotted throughout the course every 500m-800m to get you a little ‘respite’ from walking or running in between. However, the type of obstacles you will encounter are less certain…
Whilst there are key obstacles that you will encounter, OCR’s are becoming increasingly inventive so expect the unexpected, it's half the fun! However, if you are thinking of attending your first OCR, one thing you can prepare for it is working on your upper body strength; monkey bars/rig/rings are seen frequently and are the ones participants struggle with most. Common obstacles you can be sure to see include:
Crawls- A quick and easy obstacle that involves getting on your front and crawling under caged netting or barbed wire.
Monkey Bars/Rig/Rings- Similar to the ones you find in a playground, an obstacle that will definitely feature is one that involves carrying yourself along bars or rings- arguably one of the hardest.
Rope Climbs- Another one to channel your inner child is the rope climb as you attempt to shimmy up a robe as quickly as possible.
Walls- Using that upper body strength you will climb up a near vertical wall using a rope. Be warned, as it gets later in the day it gets muddier and slippery!
Carries- Carries vary greatly depending on the race you sign up for; the longer the race the heavier the carry. The items you could be expected to carry include buckets, wreck bags, balls and sandbags.
Water Heavy Obstacles- Where there is mud, there is usually water! These water heavy obstacles can range from trudging through mud to full immersion dunks. This is why it is especially important to dress appropriately. Read our blog post on what to wear to an OCR here.
As it says in the name, there is also running (or walking) involved, but don’t panic, it's only for short periods at a time. Whilst you won’t be running for long stretches, you will be covering a fair distance overall. The rule of thumb is make sure your body can handle the OCR’s distance, even if it’s just walking it.
Getting covered in mud, it’s half the fun. Whilst it is some people’s idea of a nightmare, getting covered in mud can be awfully freeing and make you feel like you’re a kid again. However, getting covered in mud can make the OCR more difficult if you are getting bogged down in the wrong gear, so make sure you dress smart and have a waterproof Kitbrix bag to pack your kit in at the end of the race.