Where to Find the Best Obstacle Races in the US

Obstacle Races

Obstacle races are a modern and extremely exciting phenomenon. If you want to test your will, courage, and physical strength, you will love this sport. This article details the origins of obstacle races and the participation options offered by the organizers.

What is OCR?

Obstacle Course Race, or OCR for short, is a cross-country race with artificially created obstacles, such as in live odds: ditches, fords, maneuvers, ropes, walls, barbed wire, ramps, aggravated running, even obstacles with smoke screens and fire.

Obstacles for races often use analogs of military training trials in their creation. The length of distances at races is from 5 to 30 kilometers.

As a rule, races are made on natural reliefs, where there are natural fords, height differences, hills and ditches, mud – the whole entourage of a real wild race. But some races are also held in the city: completely artificial obstacles are built there, and the stadium and motorway running areas are adapted for them.

This approach allows races of different levels of difficulty to be conducted and involves participants with different preparations.

Individual instructors can accompany runners. If there are no such instructors, judges control the passage of obstacles and comply with the course rules. A team or a single participant is given an electronic chip, which cuts off timing and records the passage of sections.

At the finish line, each athlete who completes the course receives a medal or token, food, and water.

History of the emergence of OCR in the world 

The progenitor of modern obstacle races can be considered Spartan races at the ancient Olympic Games in the VIII century BC. It was a pentathlon, which included competitions in five sports: sprinting, throwing spears, carrying weights, jumping, and wrestling.

At the turn of the XIX-XX centuries, the concept of steeplechase was embodied at the Summer Olympic Games, where a 200-meter swim with three obstacles – rows of boats and a pole, had to be climbed over and crossed. In the middle of the 20th century, land-based championships with obstacle courses appeared as part of military training. Since 1950, annual world championships have appeared.

In the modern history of the sport, obstacle races got a second life in 1987 at the Tough Guy competition in England at Perton Farm. The race is still organized today and is consistently popular, attracting hundreds of competitors – despite being considered the most extreme and dangerous race in the world.

Obstacle race formats

Team participation

This format assumes that the race is run by an entire team, with obstacles to be overcome by each participant. Many obstacle race starts are designed for this format – even the obstacles are impossible to overcome alone.

It is the most popular format so far because for most runners, obstacle races are an opportunity to diversify their leisure time, dilute their usual training, try something new, and just have fun.

Team races are often organized as team building in corporations when the company pays its employees to participate in the race. And an OCR race is a really cool way to foster a sense of elbow and the ability to work together as a team on a single task.

Mass Start

This format involves an individual race in a single mass start – that is, participants are started on the course in groups of several people, but each participant has his or her own personal timing, runs the race alone, and advances as obstacles are overcome. This format does not necessarily involve competition and strict judging by instructors.

Individual format

Essentially, the same as the mass start: each competitor runs in a wave with the rest of the athletes with individual timing. It makes sense to talk about the individual format if you are competing for a result or even a championship title – in this case, the runner is accompanied by an instructor who monitors the passage of obstacles and compliance with the rules. In this case, the course is strictly monitored.

Who can participate in the OCR?

Athletic background, achievements, and regalia are all unimportant for those who decide to run their first obstacle race. Anyone without obstacle race experience can take part in the popular mass start. In the case of professional races and championships, competitors wishing to compete for a new title will need proof of previous results – and only trained and experienced athletes can take part in these events.

What are the specifics of training?

The beauty of most obstacle races is that they do not require supernatural strength and abilities – a person with any level of fitness can run a mass start. Still, you need to have a little sporting background to get the most out of the start.

The first thing you need to be able to do for an obstacle race is to run. It is good to have at least a minimum base of running training and confidence that the chosen distance will be successfully overcome.

Of course, if it’s an amateur mass start, you can step up – but that will hold up the rest of the team and leave a bad feeling about the race. Plus, running training will help to “catch up” the time lost on overcoming obstacles.

You’ll also need the ability to climb, pull yourself up, and manage your body weight. As obvious as it may seem, you need to learn how to do pull-ups and do what’s called functional training for this!

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