Peer pressure, Groupon, or curiosity wooed you. Next thing you know you’re stuck with a registration to a local Obstacle Course Race (OCR), have been training up a storm, and are feeling prepared… maybe?
Obstacle Course Racing scares some, excites some, and others are somewhere in between. It’s understandable as OCRs are meant to challenge and push you in ways you wouldn’t yourself. Here are a few gear tricks to help get you through that first OCR with confidence and without looking like a newbie.
1. Bib Numbers Go on Your Back
ON YOUR BACK. I know some elite disagree with me here, but let me explain something. When you are crawling on your stomach under barbed wire those weak safety pins will give way and you’ll be pulling them out of your stomach. If it’s not yours, it’s someone else’s that was left behind. Do yourself and others a favour and pin that sucker on your back. If you don’t believe me, find me at the next race and ask to see my cool marks from the safety pins on my belly.
2. Your Shoes Can Make or Break You
They make trail and OCR shoes for a reason. A balance of light-weight, grip, draining ability can make your OCR a much more pleasant experience. There are plenty of different brands, price ranges, and styles to fit everyone so take the time and find one that works for you. You don’t want to be THAT guy on the sideline pulling rocks out of his shoe.
3. Duct Tape
If you can’t afford a new pair of shoes right now, invest in a roll of duct tape. Races in muddy areas can suction your shoes right off. I have seen the SOLE of a shoe come off, essentially leaving a guy running in slippers. Taping around the shoe will lock the laces down so you don’t have to re-tie in the middle of the race as well. Two issues knocked out with one roll.
4. Let Socks be Your Best Friends
Many, including myself, wear knee high socks or compressive sleeves. They protect your calves from cramping, protect your shins from rope burn, protect your legs from scrapes from crawling, and are still lightweight when wet and muddy. There is something to be said about less clothing; but this is one article of clothing I think is worth the weight.
5. Using Gloves
Gloves can be great for those with sensitive hands, but be mindful when you’re wearing them. Your skin is way better friction against those monkey bars than those gloves are. If you want/need gloves, then rock ‘em. You’ll see plenty of people with gloves (mostly fingerless) on; but consider what obstacles you need to slip them off for and practice running and doing so that way you’re ready come race day.
Everyone had his or her first OCR, so you’re not alone. We learn something new with every race, but hopefully these few tricks help you sidestep some common first timer mishaps.
Go. Conquer. Return muddy and proud.