Whether you’re taking on your first obstacle course race or your 50th, there’s one simple thing you can do to make it a better experience, and that’s to have the right kit.
The piece of advice I see over and over again is to invest in the correct kit, not only will it improve your race day, it will also improve your performance. For many people doing their first event they don’t want to be spending more money, because let’s admit it, Obstacle course racing can be a pricey sport. However, you may as well buy it for your first race because we all well know that it won’t be your last!
Even if you’re a seasoned pro, renewing your kit and finding new options is not only essential, it’s actually pretty good fun.
Obstacle Course Specific Trail Shoes
There’s a definite science in trail shoes, and we’ve all seen the articles stating the pros and cons of different shoes: the dry weight, the wet weight, the depth of tread, the drop, the aesthetics. Ultimately, it comes down to what works for your feet, and sadly that can take some trial and error.
Inov-8 have long been the shoe darling of the pros, and their recently released line features Graphene, a revolutionary material developed at the University of Manchester. Inov-8s G-series promise to offer grip, traction, and durability as yet unseen in an off road shoe.
So some guys like to run topless, and whilst we’re certainly not complaining about that, it’s not necessarily recommended for everyone (I for one turn into an icicle at the merest hint of inclement weather). The answer it appears, lies in compression wear. Fast drying, and it won’t weigh you down…yes there’s research on recovery and performance (and to be fair, doubling up leggings and calf guards does help my calf cramp a lot), but it’s not something I have a great amount of knowledge in. What I do know is, when it’s freezing cold and soaking wet, it helps me stay warm and doesn’t drag me down.
Although pricey, there’s only one brand I can recommend for obstacle course racing and that is Skins. The cost appears high on the initial purchase, but the same pair of leggings has got me through 3-and-a-bit years of racing, and counting. The fit, the durability, and the performance is far superior to anything else I have tried.
No really, socks. Look, if you’re going to buy the shoes, get the socks. If you’ve ever run in cotton socks you’ll know the feeling of a soggy sock slithering down to the toes of your shoes. It’s gross, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Added to its vileness, it can also result in damaging your feet, and I’m guessing if you’re running an OCR you’re quite fond of your feet being in one piece and usable. So yes, I’m being that boring, invest in socks.
This one is more post-race, but its been a life saver more times than I care to think of. Often after an obstacle course race, you’re tired, cold, wet, and hungry. You want to get changed, and get warm. You don’t much care about your kit, and if you’re anything like me you’ll strip off where you stand. Enter your dry bag.
Folding down to barely anything, you can throw all your kit in, your shoes, clothes, even your watch, fasten it up, and chuck in in your back pack, without worrying about mud getting everywhere, or about leaving anything behind. It’s a really cheap and basic item, but it really does make life easier when you need it.
Surely, the ultimate of OCR kit, the DryRobe. The first time I used one I borrowed it for Winter Tough Guy. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without it. Since then they’re branched out into new shapes and designs, and you can even get them branded with your own team name and logo.
Waterproof on the outside and fleece lined on the inner, these beauties wrap you up in warmth immediately, keep you shielded from the rain, and are big enough to change under. More than once mine has been a much needed second layer when camping, and not to mention how much fun you can have when you confuse people on your journey home in one (“But are they Wizards??”) Perhaps I’ve become spoilt, but I wouldn’t go to any obstacle course race without my DryRobe.
Of course, the one I’m currently coveting is this offering from OCRWC, is it acceptable to have more than one??