Sunday, 5 October 2014


l have taken up a strange new hobby called OCR. This little gem was found by accident and only did my first one in August. I am now on hold thanks to a strained Achilles tendon which l did walking of all things when Andy, Ann and l went out a few Sundays back for a gentle walk.

OCR stand for Obstacle Course Racing, have you heard of an event called Tough Mudder it was l thing among the first. Well there is now a plethora out there every weekend and l ended up with the group from the PT Studio where l train to get fit we went on the Total Warrior in the lake District on 1st August.

I hate running and very quickly moved to a walk but apart from the walls which l had no idea how to get over and figured l would hurt my self l did all the other obstacles. Swimming rivers and the dip in the although melted skip full of ice were cleansing but by god cold. The climb up death valley a vertical mud slope about 100ft high on cargo nets was ....interesting. The belly crawls under barbed wire through deep pits of mud were fun, the electric cables only gave me one shock on the hand on the way out, the slide with water running down it seemed 150 vertical foot of out of control slide and interesting but carrying logs up and down and up and down a hill was a killer as was crawling under cargo nets up a hill rolling logs.
So given all that l can say l honestly loved it, everyone was so friendly and helpful...runners and organisers the organisation was impressive from marshals to course layout and sign in on course, injured were ferried away fast by paramedics and 4wheel terrain buggies. (sizes may have been bigger or smaller l have no idea just it was steep and long and never shallow or short)

Time was very slow about 3hr 19mins but l did it all 10k of punishment and obstacles (99.9% of those). This not only did not put me off but has left me wanting more. l am booked onto 2 more races next year and wanted to do 2x night ones this year but my ankle threw a spanner into that so will do 2 nights next year.

I did my best to get into running for months before the event but no way around it l HATE loath and detest running. However l suddenly realised the other day that l did a tiny bit of cross country running at school and loved that, l was trying to get running on roads which l hate.
Now l am going nuts wanting to go make a start running and am not allowed. The physio finally passed me fit to do minor lower body exercises every other day...provided l am not in pain on my ankle post exercise or the next day  So l will start with squats and jogging on the spot and within a couple of weeks move on to CC.... getting excited feel like l am going somewhere.

I am not that crazy that l would do the race barefoot. I had the Inov8 Bare Grip 200. These are a 0" drop shoe designed for what is called minimalist running. They have cleats on that make tractor tyres look like skid pan treads where others were throwing themselves at mud hills trying to get up and sliding back down l looked at the shoes and said "Ok now do your magic" and l walked up those hills, not one time did l slide up or down due to bad grip, the water swooshed out as they are designed not to hold water and no mud gripped...l do not know how but the mud pings off and always leaves the cleats free not clogged up.

Andy is going to join me on the next OCR that l do next year so l have been ordering him a load of bits to help including a pair of Inov8 talons, these have a 6mm drop. Loads different to his present regular nike things.

Minimalist shoes are not something you just put on and go if you are used to shoes especially the normal padded running sort so Inov8 have a load of info on their site and how to transition but if you are into running they do on road (flat) and off road (cleated) shoes and more and more research is showing how minimalist and barefoot is much better as you strike different and do not get the shock that the padding never absorbs.

If you want to find out more about OCR and belong to facebook then do a search there  for a fantastic bunch called Obstacle course racing (UK.OCR)

And finally Pete Rees has Mudstacle full of help tips and videos on how to attack obstacles, equipment he and others have road tested and info on races and insurance for members and also money off races for members.

If you want to try something totally different try an OCR race, don't let age or skills put your off unless though you are confident on things like burpees  avoid spartan. in these if you do not do an obstacle fine but you have to do burpees as a penalty. The other races you just walk round the ones you do not want to do.