So your looking at taking part in you're first Obstacle course run, if you're at that stage where you're thinking about entering one then your most likely you're contemplating whether they're actually for you or not. You'll be asking yourself questions such as, how hard are they? Will I like them? What about if I fail? What about if it's to hard and I can't make it? What if I fall flat on my face in the mud and everyone laughs at me!
If you're currently at this stage in your decision making process, then in the famous words of Corporal Jones...... Don't panic! Pretty much everyone who's entered an event like this for the first time will be thinking exactly the same thing as you and in all honesty you have nothing to worry about. For a start there as hard as you make them, pick a pace that suits you and stick to it. If you enter an event and decide you absolutely hate it (which we're absolutely positive you won't) then at least you can say you've tried something new. If you're worried about failure then don't be, the main thing with obstacle course events is showing up and the taking part, if you turn up to the run and give it your absolute best then there's absolutely no way anyone can say you've failed. If you're worried about falling flat on your face in the mud with everyone laughing at you then that too is something you can completely forget about, for a start our build crew do it on a regular basis when out on course and you'll find almost every runner has completely stacked it on an obstacle at some point in their life so you won't be on your own.
If you're feeling slightly more convinced after our opening pitch and the thought of taking on an obstacle course race is becoming a little less daunting, then you'll now be at the stage where you need to consider a few variables before you decide to fully commit. The key to picking the right race can depend on a number of things and you'll need to do your research before entering. The information about the event you're looking at should be readily available to you on the event organisers website, just make sure you read through it all before entering. To help you on your way though and to point out a few things you should be searching for before signing up we've made a quick list below to help you out.
Take a look at the distances that are on offer to you, if you're just starting out and the event offers both 5k and 20k then the common sense approach would be to take on the shorter distance first. For one they are usually slightly cheaper so if you've completed the event and absolutely hated every minute of it, you won't be kicking yourself for wasting the extra money, plus they're designed to give you a taste of the full course so if you decide you absolutely love it then you can always come back for more at a later date to take on the full course.
Take a look at the obstacles that are on offer, if you're just starting out then a race which looks like something of the TV programme Ninja Warrior is probably not the best place to start. There are many great races out there which offer great technical obstacles but if you're just starting out then take a look at them in more detail first to see if they are something that you would would class as 'achievable' to complete.
If you are opting for a race that offers huge obstacles and they all resemble mountains and require you to use only your fingertips as you climb something that looks like a skyscraper, then take a look at the penalty schemes. Certain races offer penalties such as press ups, burpees and star jumps if you don't manage to complete the obstacle. If you're looking for an intense workout and you've got your ' 'Beast Mode' on then this may well be the option for you. If, however you're doing it for more of a challenge but not one that you fancy getting screamed at by someone who sounds like a drill sergeant then take this into consideration. If you're unsure on what the race offers then send the event organisers a message via their website and ask the question, they'll all be more than happy to help.
Take a look into the race waves & start times of the event that you're thinking of entering. If you like your races to be timed then see if the event offers that service, a fair race now offers both timed waves and non timed waves so you should have a few to choose from. The main difference between the two different wave types is if the level of competitiveness that comes with them, for example if you're running in the timed wave and you're out in front but you come to an obstacle that you find you need helping hand with to get over then don't always expect your fellow runners behind you to help out.
Timed waves are usually much more competitive and runners are competing for the best time that they can possibly achieve, it's not often you'll find runners sacrifice their own race for the good of another but we do find the odd gem out there who surprises us every now and then, just take a look at the recent events in the London Marathon and the heart-warming moment Alistair Brown-Lee sacrificed his own race with to help his brother Johnny who was suffering with fatigue.
If, however a timed wave isn't a deal breaker then you'll see many more random acts of kindness in waves that aren't classes as competitive. In fact, so much so that it's actually more of a surprise to see someone run past their fellow runner when they are in need of assistance rather than stop to lend a helping hand. Obstacle course racing is renowned for the friendly atmosphere that runs through the heart of the event and you're attending a well established run that's relatively well organised this is something you should pick up on as soon as you arrive.
Take a look at the event facilities, often you'll get races pop up with incredible offers that seem almost to good to be true such as £20 race entry with free T- shirt & medal however when you finish the race the t-shirt looks like something you could have picked up on eBay for £2 and the medal is actually a plastic wholesale product that’s been picked up on the internet as a job lot. If you've paid £20 for the entry fee however then don't be disheartened, you usually get what you pay for and as long as the run was okay then don't expect to much after when it comes down to the bling! Usually if you're paying for an event around the £40 - £50 mark you can expect a custom tech t-shirt together with a custom medal made specifically for that event, you may get a few extras thrown in such as a drink, protein bar etc. but each finisher pack differs from event to event.
Also take a look at the event arena / village. Do they offer wash facilities, toilets, changing tents, bag drop, key drop, lockers? And what are the extra charges included on top of your entry fee? Be sure to read the small print before entering, take our event the IronRun for example our standard entry fees for a 6k race are £36 plus £4 for parking to cover the cost of damage to the land and the fee for the professional event car parking team we employ at all our events to ensure cars are parked correctly and to minimise the possibility of damage to cars parked on site. The race entry fee also includes free bag drop, free key drop, a custom tech t-shirt, custom finishers medal access to our event village where we have retailers on site offering things like hats, running equipment, clothing, services such as Go pro for hire, inflatable activities such as slides, bouncy castles and obstacle courses, an inflatable drinks bar, food stalls and a DJ playing music throughout the day to keep the event village lively. Take a look to see what the event you're entering offers but also be sure to keep in mind the main reason you're there is for the run, an awesome event village is a bonus but ultimately if the runs generally been disappointing they you'll end up leaving feeling disheartened and less inclined to take on another obstacle course race.
If, you take the above in to consideration when you're selecting your next race you'll be on the right path to selecting one that you'll feel comfortable with. Obstacle runs can be a great way to keep fit, have a great laugh and accomplish something you may have thought was slightly beyond your capabilities. If you're still unsure on which run to choose then read the reviews, runners who have taken part previously will leave reviews either on the events website or Facebook page so be sure to check out their website in more detail or follow them on social media feeds such as Instagram or Facebook for regular updates and to get a better idea on what the event is all about.
Well established events will regularly publish new content which should give you a better insight in to what they offer which will again help you decide whether to enter or not. The key is selecting a run that caters for your abilities. Once your comfortable with the level you’re at you can look at progressing, don't take on too much at the beginning at put yourself off something that you could end up really enjoying!
Ready for the challenge? Then find out more on our next event on 28th April and sign up here