13 Reasons Why Obstacle Course Racing is for Everyone!

  1.  It doesn’t have to be a race.

Although the sport is known as obstacle course “racing” it absolutely does not have to be competitive.  Some races don’t even have a competitive element and the ones that do all tend to also have open waves where anyone can go along and complete the course at their leisure with no pressure to be fast and plenty of help from marshals and other runners on offer.  You don’t even have to run!

  1. The sport is growing and becoming more accessible each year.

With the hard work of British Obstacle Sports and the support of countless community members, OCR is on the way to becoming a recognised sport which will mean it receives funding from Sport England.  The more people that take part, the more likely this is to happen and that in itself is an amazing thing to contribute to.  Each year new races are popping up in different parts of the country which is fantastic to see.  Many races are even working on making themselves more accessible for adaptive athletes,  with the guidance of people adaptive athletes like Jamie Ganece Captain and Bea Wood, and it is even becoming possible for wheelchair-users to take on courses!

  1. There’s a huge variety of races.

It’s hard to think of another sport that is quite as diverse as obstacle course racing.  Different brands of race can vary wildly and, even within brands, each individual race offers a different experience.  There are some with inflatable obstacles, some with natural obstacles and some with man-made obstacles - and a fair few with a combination of these.  Some races are dry and have quite challenging technical obstacles whereas others are muddy, include lots of water and there are some that are a great mix of both. Some are based on relatively flat ground and others have significant elevation.  The distance can vary from a couple of kilometres to ultra-distance races and many brands even offer options for children too.  

  1. Your inner child will love it.

Running around, climbing, jumping, getting muddy, wading through streams and having a laugh with some friends - even if you weren’t a particularly sporty child (I know I wasn’t) your inner child will absolutely love either the nostalgia or the experience of trying something new and being a big kid for the day.

  1. The community is amazing.

The running community in general is pretty supportive but the OCR community is on a whole different level.  Everyone is always happy to lend a hand with some advice or even a physical hand over an obstacle.  I’ve lost count of how many times someone much, much faster than me has offered an encouraging word on their way past or even stopped to provide some support.  Even on social media people are incredibly supportive and connected with the common goal of trying to grow the sport.

  1. You can meet the best of the best.

Because competitive races and open races often take place on the same day, it’s not unusual for elite racers to be hanging around the race village.  In my experience, they are all super friendly and usually happy to stop for a chat.  Quite often they are also out on course later on during the open waves so you may even get to run alongside them.  There aren’t many sports out there where you can bump shoulders with the top athletes in your country!

  1. The swag is awesome.

Every race has different rewards for completion but I’m yet to find one that isn’t pretty awesome.  They vary from headbands and t-shirts to medals and goody bags but the one thing they all have in common is the fact you’ll want to show them off to everyone. 

  1. It is as easy or as hard as you want to make it.

Regardless of what distance or brand of race you choose, there are ways to really challenge yourself or make it a metaphorical “walk in the park”.  Unless you are racing competitively there is no pressure to complete (or even attempt) any obstacle that you aren’t comfortable with and it is perfectly acceptable to run, walk or a combination of both.

  1. The sense of accomplishment is immense.

This one is hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it but there really is nothing like signing up to a race that you aren’t 100% sure you want to do and are convinced that you aren’t fit enough or strong enough to complete and the feeling you get when you cross that finish line and look back on what you achieved to get there.  That feeling is pretty incomparable and the reason why a lot of newbies find themselves saying “never again” the whole way round the course then finish and immediately book another race.

  1. It gives you an interesting ice breaker.

We’ve all been in a scenario where we have to go around the room and state interesting facts about ourselves and obstacle course racing will give you plenty of those.  Even if you don’t find yourself in need of an interesting fact, it’s always a great conversation starter when someone asks you what you did at the weekend and, you never know, you might even convince them to try it!

  1. It can be a group activity or a solo adventure.

You might want to talk a group of friends into joining you and I can almost guarantee you will end up laughing until your sides hurt.  It’s a great way to do something different and have a fun day out.  However, plenty of people turn up to races alone and either go it completely solo or make friends along the way.  I defy you to go to a race and not end up striking up a conversation with someone along the course when you find yourselves stuck in the mud together, running at a similar pace or tackling an obstacle.  For races like Tough Mudder where teamwork is often required, there are groups such as the Solo Mudders who are always around to lend a hand to anyone who is taking on the course alone.

  1. It gets you out in nature.

It’s fair to say that most people could do with getting a little more fresh air and this is the perfect way to do it if just going out for a walk seems a bit boring to you.  If you pick a hilly race the scenery can be breathtaking and even on flatter routes you can be really immersed in nature.  It isn’t unusual to come across pheasants, deer and all sorts of other wildlife, especially in some of the longer races that take you away from the main village area.

  1. You can try it for FREE!

Obstacle course races rely heavily on volunteers to keep the registration running smoothly and keep everyone safe on the course.  Most obstacles will have a couple of volunteers for safety reasons and they are absolute angels.  It’s always nice to see a friendly, encouraging face and they are always willing to talk you through the obstacle if you’re unsure how to tackle it - some of them even hand out sweets!  Races are always looking for new volunteers and often in return they will feed you, provide free/discounted merchandise, run a “marshal wave” at the end of the day or offer you a free race in the future.  It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the atmosphere if you aren’t quite sure whether you want to sign up for a race too.

So there you have it - thirteen very good reasons to sign up for your first OCR - and if you still aren’t convinced then head over to one as a spectator and really get a feel for what it’s all about!

About the author:

I'm Kelly.

I discovered OCR in 2021 when my husband started racing and I've been hooked ever since. I'm not particularly fit or capable (yet) but I love a good fun run and watching the elites race whenever I can!




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