As we all know, the OCR World Championships will be returning to the UK this year, and us Brits love our etiquette guides, so here’s your handy and concise go to for the do’s and don’ts of Obstacle Course Racing.
It may seem pretty straight forward, but I’ve noticed in my time in OCR that very often the same questions, queries, and points come up; really, I could summarize these up in one line: Be kind! But instead, I thought I’d go a little more in depth.
In the community.
Do put yourself in their shoes, Don’t be unkind.
When someone goes online to ask a question, don’t jump down their throats. Don’t think they are stupid because they don’t know, or get angry if someone has a different opinion to you. Unless that opinion is being unkind or hurtful to other people, it literally isn’t worth getting angry about. A lot of the online drama would be saved if we all took a minute and thought: Is this kind? Is this helpful? Is this necessary? Lively debate is fantastic, cruel words; not so much.
Don’t forget, OCR is a small world, those outbursts and unkind words do not get forgotten easily.
Whilst on the theme of asking questions: Google is your friend! If you want different peoples opinions on something, or to discuss an idea, that’s cool. If you want someone else to find out information for you which is readily available in your race pack or on the events site… don’t be lazy!
Do Check you junk mail, Don’t be impatient.
Check your junk mail! I think this one happens about once a day in a group somewhere. Someone who has an official query, or is waiting for their race day info, or E-waiver. Gets over excited, mails said race company a million times and then takes to facebook to complain.
99.99% of the time what they’re looking for is in their junk box, either that or it’s been precisely 17 minutes since they raised their query and it’s highly unlikely anyone has had time to reply.
What we need to remember about races is that the majority of them are small companies, savings need to be made everywhere to keep our registration costs down. The more people they employ, the higher our costs will be, and the more likely they are to shut down. So next time you’re in a tizz, take a breathe, check your junk, and be patient!
Don’t lose your temper: it’s amazing how many people fly off the handle for the smallest thing, and get very angry with their fellow runners, or even RD’s, or customer support. We’re all here for fun, everyone’s working as hard as they can, or are just trying to help.
Do as the race asks, Don’t be late.
Turn up on time. This is not the day to be late: take into account traffic to get into the venue, registration queues, nervous bathroom visits, and general time wasting. If you miss your wave time because you spent an extra half an hour in bed then it’s no ones fault but your own. Yes, sometimes logistics of the race can be pretty rubbish: I spent an hour queuing to get into a car park once, but I still should’ve been earlier than I was. Not every race can accommodate you into a later wave, and if you’re running competitively, you have a one off time slot.
If the race asks you to pick up your packet the day before, comply. You’ve entered this race, it was your choice. Remember there are often thousands of people entered into events, it cannot be one rule for one, and if you are going to ask for a favor, being super polite and genuine will stand you in good stead.
Out on the course.
Do run your own race, Don’t be selfish.
Whether you are running open or competitive you need to run your own race. If someone else cuts the course, by all means pass this information on to officials (in a competitive wave) but you don’t need to get involved directly. If you’re running an open wave, what other people do doesn’t really concern you. Enjoy it, try your best, and learn from the event.
In a competitive race helping each other is strictly barred, but if you’re running open wave, then get stuck in. It’s not compulsory but if you see someone struggling, offer them a hand or a kind word, or show someone a technique. Help each other out and make it an awesome experience for everyone.
If you hear someone coming up behind you, move out of the way. Some people shout “on your left/right”, but some people don’t, and it’s not because they’re rude, they may just be shy. But if you feel or hear someone who wants to overtake, move aside and let them pass. Just because you are not running for time, or don’t feel you can run this section, doesn’t mean someone else is in the same boat.
Never litter! Ever!
On some courses this will be an instant DNF, and so it should be. The amount of empty gel packets that are left strewn around the beautiful trails we are allowed to run is more than disappointing. Imagine how many people are running. You may think your one wrapper won’t make a difference, but it does, and it all adds up. Stick it down your trousers or in your bra, but never, ever drop it on the floor.
Races wouldn’t exist without the thousands of marshals who give up their free time. They’re not just there for the few minutes you see them, they are there for hours. They spend their money to bring us jelly babies and other treats, and cheer each one of us on with the same enthusiasm from the first to the last. Say thank you!
Don’t ignore your marshals. Of course you don’t need to stop and chat, though of course you can, but a cheery wave or a brief ‘thank you!’ is enough to pass on your appreciation. It also goes without saying, listen to them. If they advise you on obstacle rules, they are the boss. If they tell you you need to redo, they are the boss! Don’t argue, and do be respectful.
Do dress suitably, Don’t ignore your kit.
It’s rare (in the U.K. anyway) that it is warm post race. Aside from the freakishly hot summer we had in 2018, it’s usually guaranteed to be pretty nippy. Whether you’ve podiumed or been running for fun, post race is the time for self care. Get out of your mucky and probably wet clothes, and get into your dry robe. Feed and water yourself, you’ve worked hard and your body needs it!
Whether you’re wearing the newest G-series Inov-8s, or an old pair of gym trainers, they need to be loved after. Bag up your kit, and as soon as you get home get it rinsed in the bath. Over and over! When it comes to washing don’t use any detergent with your shoes, and don’t use any conditioner or fabric softener on your clothes. The detergent will break down the glue, and the conditioner traps in that stinky muddy smell. Personally I prefer to just rinse my trainers and not wash them, and then stuff them with newspaper and let them dry slowly.
Francesca is an avid obstacle course racer, TV host, and blogger at Mud Is My Makeup. Follow her Instagram at @MudIsMyMakeUp and @FranChiorando.