Giant Gear Guide: OCR Clothing Tips for Tall Athletes

The Giant Abominable Snowman

Height seems to have a corner on most of the sporting world. From football to volleyball, track to….what’s that sport again….oh yea..basketball. Height seems to be a central topic in most of the sporting universe. There is one nook within the wide world of sports, however, that appears unconcerned with the topic altogether. Yes, our wonderful world of Obstacle Course Racing. It just makes sense; OCR athletes need to be nimble, agile and compact. Not necessarily the descriptions used to portray those of us that are a tad more “extended” than the rest. As a result, most of the best OCR competitors are not extremely tall.

So where does that leave those of us who are likely to drag our feet while hanging from the monkey bars? Perhaps, the reason that we haven’t seen more giants in the sport is even more simple than physiological parameters. Maybe it is because the Giant OCR athletes just aren’t able to find the right sized gear! We are going to change that. As probably one of the world’s tallest OCR athletes and as someone whose nickname around the office is “The Bumble,” I have spent 5 years curating and crafting the ultimate Giant Gear Guide.  Today, I’m going to share my top OCR Clothing Tips for Tall Athletes with you and the real Bumble alike! Let’s bounce right into it!

About The Giant Author

For reference and for the purposes of this guide, my vital measurements are as follows. I am 6’7” (2 meters), I wear a size 15 shoe (49 UK) with a 38-39 inch sleeve length and have a 36-inch inseam. I am a certifiable, if such things were possible, giant.

Giant OCR Shoes

Having an elongated frame tends to lead to feet in proportions that resemble those found on the cast of the iconic McDonaldland commercials.

Image result for McDonaldland cast, giant

Cast of McDonaldland 1986, smallest shoe size: 20.

 

To put it less eloquently, tall people tend to have large feet. At times they are called boats, sometimes shoe boxes, other times clown shoes…you get the drift. Size 14 and 15 large.  Coincidentally,  the single most important purchase Obstacle Course Racer’s of any variety can make is the combination of cloth and rubber that covers those lengthened hooves. So far, three brands stand above the crowd and provide amazing solutions to our unique requirements.

Altra Running

A staple in the Ultra Runner community and the recently announced shoe partner of Spartan Race, Altra shoes are a part of the “maximalist” movement that provides unbelievably cushioned shoes combined with a roomy footbed and ridiculous drainage capabilities. Fortunately for the giants, they are available in sizes 14, 15 and 16! (Pro tip: Altra’s Fit extremely true to size)

 

Photo of Altra Timp Trail Shoes

Altra Timp Trail Shoes-$129

Hoka One One

The founding architect of the hyper cushioned, maximalist genre, Hoka One One is a brand that offers shoes with top-notch cushion, super flashy colors and a more traditionally shaped toe box. The only reason they don’t receive top-billing is because when it came to hooking up the tall OCR athlete, they didn’t go the distance and go to a size 16. The good news is that their 14 and 15‘s are beyond amazing!

Product image for Black/True Red

Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 -$160

Merrell

On the other side of the “stack-height” conversation is a brand made famous for creating minimalist, lightweight footwear. Merrell now offers a wide variety of options for those of us who prefer to roll, jump and sprint in the mud. As an Official Sponsor of Tough Mudder and a brand with a history of innovation, Merrell offers up a slew of options in the size categories that readers of this article would be interested in. Size 14 and Size 15, respectively.

Merrell Trail Running Shoes

Merrell All Out Crush 2- $99

Giant OCR Socks

A great pair of socks makes a world of difference in the sport of Obstacle Course Racing.

If they are too short, it can lead to dirt building up in the footbed.

When they are too thin, it can lead to discomfort, blisters and a painful week following a race.

Should they be too small, they are simply too small and we live in a world where we no longer have to wear things that are too small!

The following brands understand and create giant-sized solutions to erase the aforementioned issues from existence.

Stance

Enter Stance, they specialize in high-quality socks of all varieties and types. From licensed NFL, NBA and MLB teams, to specific Athletes such as James Harden and Klay Thompson and musician Rihanna. They even have Seinfeld and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air socks, if those properties are of any interest. Suffice it to say, when it comes to gear for your feet, Stance has you covered. For running they offer a ton, but the type that rises above the rest of the fray is their selection of XL-sized, perfectly cushioned and stylish stockings. Stance XL Socks

UNCOMMON SOLIDS WOOL CREW

Stance Uncommon Solids Wool Crew – $22

Injiji

This stalwart in the Triathlon, Ultra, Trail Runner world should also be a constant part of your pre-race gear checklist. Injiji socks are unique in their design due to fact that they have individual sleeves for each toe. The hypothesis for this concept is that the design reduces the potential for blisters and helps to increase the breathability between toes in order to ensure a dry, comfortable and cushioned experience through whatever activity you are into. Lucky for us, these things are as a good as advertised and better yet, are available in over 23 glorious XL versions.

Injiji XL Sock

Outdoor Original Weight Crew NuWool- $18

Giant OCR Compression Shorts

Underwear. Most everyone wears them, but only in the sport of Obstacle Course Racing is it completely socially acceptable to frolic through the woods in them alone! If we giants are going to go this route, we need to protect ourselves not only from chaffing, but also our fellow racers being traumatized due to the gangly appendages on display while wearing traditionally sized offerings. That’s where these compression shorts for giants come in!

Under Armour

A brand built on making better undershirts has also perfected underwear. Under Armour’s Boxerjock line includes a version with a 9-inch inseam that is vital to helping us accomplish the aforementioned concerns. Wear them under shorts or as shorts, either way, your comfort is literally guaranteed. My personal favorites can be found at UnderArmour.com

Under Armour Clothing

Under Armour 9-inch Compression Shorts- $30

 

MudGear

With a name like MudGear, it comes as no surprise that this brand is focused on all things muddy. No Gear Guide for Giants would be complete without mentioning their 9-inch inseamed compression shorts! Find them here!

MudGear Base Layer Boxer Brief

MudGear Compression Shorts- $33

Giant Bonus Tip:

Giant Problem Solver: Lock Laces

If you are over 6′ feet tall, you know how difficult it is to bend over and tie your shoes on a non-race or training day. Now imagine your shoe comes untied in the middle of a race. The mud, water, and fatigue combined with bending over is sure to make you completely light headed and add costly minutes to your results. Lock Laces has the perfect solution! Simply install them before your run, slide the lock into place and never worry about your shoelaces coming untied ever again! That is, of course, unless that pesky Jack comes around to say otherwise.

Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk

Thanks to this Guide, the giant is ready to chase down Jack!

 

The Giant Finish

I hope that you, my fellow giants found this guide to be of use. Go gear up for a race in the near future and begin the inevitable process of Giant domination in Obstacle Course Racing! And if that domination never materializes, that’s o.k. too. At least you will compete in more comfort, more stability, and more confidence as a result of having the right sized gear! And if you have found anything that I should add to this list, please shout it out in the comments!

 

 

 

Spartan Chicago (Indianapolis) Beast and Sprint

Let’s jump right into this fire. The Spartan Chicago, which on Spartan’s own website declares that it is “Just 2:30 hours away from Chicago and 1:30 hours away from Indianapolis”, is in the Eastern Time Zone.

Yep, you read that right. The Spartan Chicago is an hour closer to Indianapolis, is hosted in Attica, Indiana and, oh yeah, is in different time zone!

Map of Distances between Chicago,IL Attica, IN and Indianapolis, IN

Exhibit A: Incredibly compelling, scientific evidence that the Spartan Chicago should be renamed to Spartan Indiana.

Now perhaps there is a strategic reasoning behind this naming decision and it might just be that I’m ranting, but that’s my right and I will exercise it as I wish!

Spartan Chicago

Naming convention aside, the Beast and Sprint weekend hosted at the Badlands Off-Road park was an experience that I won’t soon forget. Scheduled on the weekend of September 8th and 9th and competing with the Brickyard 400  (which ended up being rain delayed until September 10th), an Indianapolis Colts Season Opener and a Warrior Dash a few miles away. This Spartan weekend delivered a wonderful experience for competitors of all levels. Even if, the number of fellow racers, was fewer than expected.

The Venue

The venue seemed as if it was custom designed to host an Obstacle Course Race. For example, the parking was on-site and the registration line non-existent! This meant no buses, no wait and a friendly group of volunteers and staff made this one of the fastest, friendliest, in and out experiences I’ve ever had at a Spartan/OCR event.

Expedited lines and smile filled faces, however, weren’t the only thing we were met with during our time in Indiana. From the second my brother John and I touched down at Indianapolis International Airport, we were met with buckets of rain.

Apparently, leftovers from a storm system earlier in the week. These soggy conditions made everyone’s cheery attitude and excitement that much more impressive, as everyone there was slopping through mud and water on and off the course!

Beast Mode Bros 412 at the Spartan Chicago (Indianapolis) Badlands Off-Road Park

Evidence of ridiculously friendly volunteers

The Course

The Badlands Off-Road Park served as a vast, fast, canvas to build the 13-mile Spartan Beast and the 5-mile Spartan Sprint upon. With a variety of terrain; from rock-filled streams to slick black mud, it offered it all; but the predominate surface we found ourselves trudging through was a super soft, squishy, yet; packable sand/gravel mixture. Regarding elevation, the map could best be described as a “roller coaster”. Meaning that what went up, eventually came back down and ultimately; the course balanced itself out to be a nearly perfectly flat surface. Back at the same elevation where it started.

Climbing up the hills with this mix of terrain and elevation was technical, but once you got the hang of it, very manageable. Your reward for climbing up the 50-70 foothills was a thrilling breakaway (or bomb away, depending on how fast you wanted to approach it) that included curves, berms, and divots that you could run down as fast as you wanted, without fear of major consequence. The sand mix was such that even if you lost your line and “yardsaled”, you would be able to pop back up and get back up to speed without so much as a scrape.  In my opinion, this terrain was the highlight of the entire course which was awesome because it represented a majority of the surface found at the venue.

The Beast

All the major obstacles showed up at the Spartan Chicago (Indianapolis) and the rain made them extra challenging once completed. Of note, the course had 2 different sandbag carries, one using the standard Spartan bag and another using a generic bag with an evil zig-zag path to walk it around. The downpour of rain also affected the A-Frame and Tyrolean traverse in ways I hadn’t seen before. For example, the A-frame had more give in the net, to the point that as one Spartan would hop off the end of the fixture, the racer at the beginning would drop down 2-3 feet. I have never experienced that before and it added a new tier of challenge to a typically straightforward obstacle.

As for Tyrolean Traverse, the rope was so wet that it sagged to the point that my back was dragging on the ground, while I was simultaneously holding onto the rope.  Looking into future races, I will certainly pay closer attention to rope sagging and use that to decide which lane to choose going into the obstacle.

Also, the finishing sequence of the 2-segment twister, Spear Throw and a raging fire jump to wrap the day up added a lot of excitement and drama for participants and the amazing spectators that braved the elements to see the day’s events unfold! Well done. One issue we did experience was that the weather conditions seemed to affect our timing chips, which reported at the results tent that we had crossed the finish line in 15 hours! A quick chat at the results tent remedied that and had us back in business in no time.

Beast Mode Bros 412 at the Spartan Chicago (Indianapolis) Badlands Off-Road Park

Evidence of a great Beast.

The Sprint

On Saturday, temps dropped by about 10 degrees, from 75-ish to 65- ish and the rain stalled to a slight drizzle. Which somehow converted the wet and slick obstacles from the Beast, into the muddy and more slippery obstacles of the Sprint. The 5-mile highlight reel of the Beast Course, had all the same hanging obstacles, along with a devastatingly difficult Bucket Brigade and Atlas Carry. Perhaps it was our diminished forearm and grip strength from the day before, but those buckets seemed to be approximately 100 pounds heavier than the ones we carried in the Beast.

Not to mention the fact that the Atlas Carry had turned into a water obstacle in a few sections. I almost asked for a PFD before grabbing my, affectionately titled, Burpee Boulder! Overall, the Sprint was challenging and differentiated enough to ensure that it will be remembered for its own reasons by those of us ambitious (i.e. insane) enough to attempt it the day after the Beast. That tall task was accomplished, while also being an accessible test for the Novice racer. (Of which we saw and high fived aplenty throughout the day.)

Conclusion

At the end of the Spartan Chicago (Indianapolis) weekend, there was nothing but good things going on at the Badlands on the Spartan Chicago 2018. And naming controversy aside, I would highly recommend any racer looking for a friendly, fast and fantastic experience to give this location a look in the future!

 

Beast Mode Bros 412 at the Spartan Chicago (Indianapolis) Badlands Off-Road Park

Evidence of a great weekend @ The Badlands!