Mass runs are big money. All over the world people are shelling out their hard earned dollars to experience the excitement of being part of a gently stampeding human herd. But no matter how you dress it up, how you change the routes, or how great the goodie bags and finisher tees are, a run is still just that- a joint-creaking plod through x-number of kilometers.
So if straightforward point A to B runs don’t do it for you anymore, and the laughably oxymoronic “Garfield Run” fails to fire even one micron of your interest neurons, maybe it’s time for something different…
What's obstacle racing?
A typical obstacle race is short and anything but sweet, lasting usually about 5-6km and containing upwards of 10 obstacles. In part thanks to the growing popularity of these races, the difficulty and the amount of the obstacles has steadily escalated, with at least one race attempting to last 24hrs.
While some races boast a “penalty” for failing the obstacles (such as burpees or push-ups), ultimately none of the obstacles or the penalties are compulsory for the average participant - only for those competing for prizes, so most races are only as tough as you want them to be (more or less).
And if that sounds too convenient, some races have a “hard mode” where you can opt (and usually pay more) to increase the distance, or run with excess baggage. Any more masochistic and you’d have to be flagellating yourself over heated spikes - not that there’s anything wrong with that except that it’s a bit weird.
Handy tips for conquering an obstacle race:
- Pace yourself.
- Check out previous editions of the race to get an idea of what obstacles you might face.
- Learn how best to tackle the obstacles from YouTube, or join the pre-race workouts.
- Learn how to climb a rope.
- Help other participants, and accept help when you need it.
- Get trail running shoes, or shoes with good grip.
- Get clothes that offer some protection for your knees and elbows, to avoid scrapes and scratches.
- Obstacle races require strength as well as endurance, so a variety of different exercise disciplines would be useful.
- Make sure you are well-fed, well-rested and well-hydrated. Don’t let the shorter distances fool you, obstacle races are physically demanding.