Friday, June 5, 2015

Choosing Your First Obstacle Course Race (OCR)

The year I discovered obstacle course racing was the year my life changed. As cliche as that sounds, it is the truth. It started with my bootcamp friends convincing me to take part in Tough Mudder, a 21km distance run with an exciting and terrifying combination of obstacles - Artic Anema, Electroshock Therapy and walls...oh god, the walls.

Needless to say, I was hooked.

But taking the leap (sometimes quite literally) from pure running to obstacle course racing was no less daunting for many. If the 10ft walls and 15ft plank walk hasn't frightened off some, the distance might. However if one has been working out consistently and has the right can-do attitude aka YOLO, completing an obstacle course race can bring about a euphoria unlike anything running can bring about. I think it has something to do with the obstacle element of it. Being able to overcome a physical or mental challenge in the form of an obstacle had rewards of its own.

Regardless of what level or how gungho you are, it's never too late to start OCR. From my experience, join a gym, a fitness group or a bootcamp and grab as many like-minded friends along for the ride and form a team.

Here are a few obstacle challenges you can look at.

1. Viper Challenge

The pioneer of the obstacle racing in Malaysia, Viper Challenge believes in 'Leave No Behind' with a great emphasis of teamwork to overcome obstacles. With three 21km legs in Sepang International Circuit, a Viper Arena at Shah Alam stadium and soon in September, Viper Genting, Viper Challenge has given Malaysians a taste of obstacle course challenges with no penalties, no cut-off time and with all the fun. It's no surprise that the slots are often sold out within the first week.
Location: Malaysia

2. Tough Mudder

Hailed as possibly the toughest obstacle challenge on the planet, Tough Mudder haa branches all over the world. The closest location to us Malaysians would be Australia and there is nothing quite like making a weekend to the land down under to climb walls, dive into ice and get zapped. 

Not only does Tough Mudder support the Wounded Warrior campaign, Tough Mudder also embodies the team spirit with specially designed obstacles meant to promote teamwork. At the end, instead of a medal, a orange headband is given to signify completion and an achievement.
Location: Australia, New Zealand, Europe or North America.

3. Spartan Race

Let's kick it up a notch and dive into the Spartan Race. Think along the lines of burpees burpees burpees. Unlike Viper Challenge or Tough Mudder, every failed obstacle attempt gets you 30 glorious burpees! With this incentive on top of a world ranking and prize, the participants are often experienced OCR racers. However that's not something to be afraid.

Everyone has got to start their Spartan Race somewhere. With a lot of all-rounded training (endurance, strength, agility, technique) and the right group of friends who won't leave you behind, coming home with a beautiful red or blue or green medal is possible. Oh, and it can be addictive especially since Spartan offers a exclusive fourth medal for the Trifecta Tribe. But I'll talk more about that in a future post.

Location: 14 countries and counting including Malaysia and Singapore. Coming in the final quarter of 2015.
Other OCRs
With obstacle racing growing in Malaysia and around the region, sporty people and heath nuts looking to get into it have a lot of OCR events to pick from. But because of the obstacle elements, not all OCR are well organised and that can hinder a participant's safety. Here's a few recommendation for some of the better organised OCR in Malaysia and Singapore (based on my experience la).

So to start your first obstacle course race....just sign up for any of the recommended OCR events above. That's just step 1.

Good luck.

Disclaimer: Writer can only comment on OCR events she has participated in.

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