I guess the first thing to say is that I don’t consider myself an expert on the topic, because I’m always learning, but I thought I would post about what OCR means to me as a way of introducing you to the sport.
What even is OCR?
OCR stands for obstacle course racing. It’s a bit of an umbrella term for muddy runs, trail runs with natural ‘fallen tree’ type obstacles, and basically any organised jaunt where you throw yourself over tyre walls in the name of fun.
Technically speaking, not all obstacle courses are races, for example Tough Mudder is not timed, and there are no prizes for coming first apart from, I suppose, a round of applause. Some races, Spartan Races for example, can be fairly competitive, and tend to penalise for failed or missed obstacles with compulsory burpees. Most obstacle races present varying distance challenges, either through multiple laps (like NUTS) or longer, more varied courses.
But I don’t want to compete; I just want to live through it.
That’s okay! So do most people. A lot of race organisers now recognise this and therefore run ‘elite’ waves. An elite wave is just a poncy way of saying ‘the wave for people that run good and want to learn to run more gooder for power and glory’. These waves are usually the first of the day, so if you’re not racing for positions, qualifications or for anything other than funsies, you get more of a lie in.
Woah, it’s expensive.
Yes, it is. I try to justify the expense in my head because it is one of the very few things that actually motivate me to exercise, and my health means a lot to me. As for the events, I can imagine it costs a lot to put up such large structures, risk assess them, ensure their safety, pay for labour, shell out for insurance, pay the landowner and cover the costs of advertising, prizes, shirts, medals, hydration etc.
You can often lower your cost by volunteering to marshall the races – this sometimes gets you a free race on the same day or one in lieu. You can also reduce the cost by booking in advance – as events creep closer, the prices rise, so it pays to be organised.
Will people laugh at me because I am overweight/can’t run/have no upper body strength?
No. This is where OCR really comes into its own. It’s one of the few sports that is truly inclusive of all ages, shapes, sizes, and genders. Everyone is encouraged to push their limits, but nobody is ridiculed for being aware of them. As far as I’m concerned, everyone tramping through the mud and over walls is amazing, and where your body lets you down, there are others to help you up. When you’re flinging yourself through muddy puddles and over cargo nets, it’s time to leave dignity and self-consciousness at the start line. We’re all in the same, muddy boat and as a sport, OCR is as inclusive as it is challenging.
Where do I even start to look for events, kit or people to run with?
I got a lot of help from the OCR community on Facebook. It’s where I also met the fabulous UK Mudd Queens – so joining up there is a great place to start. Otherwise, take a look around the blog for event reviews, kit chat, and OCR focused discussion.
Any other questions, please let me know!