Obstacle Race Survival Checklist

The build up to every obstacle race is exciting. Sometimes, the excitement gets in the way of rational thinking and I forget to pack things I need. So to prevent this, I made a checklist and an OCR survival guide to follow each time I do a race. Keeping organised allows me to focus my energy on actually racing, rather than what I’ve forgotten. The checklist is available to download the bottom of the article, get stuck in, take away unnecessary stress and be as organised with your belongings as you have been with your training.

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Running up the travelator Mens Health Survival of the Fittest 2016
  • Trail running shoes. Generic running shoes have very little tread and you’re more likely to slip and injure yourself as it will be wet and muddy. Grab yourself some trail running shoes for extra gip.
  • In one race, my laces kept coming undone and it was difficult tying them with cold hands so this affected my overall time. I bought some lace locks so now I don’t have to worry about them coming undone.
  • Sports socks. Get ones that absorb sweat. They will most likely still get caked in mud but they dry quicker than your average trainer sock, making them more comfortable for the duration of the race.
  • Avoid wearing cotton. Cotton clothing does you no favours when it comes to keeping you warm and dry. Invest in proper running gear, which is breathable, sweat wicking and dries quickly. Compression leggings are also a good bet as they are said to increase blood flow and protect muscles. Ladies, FYI sometimes the mud and wetness weighs your sports bra down so get one that has secure straps to avoid a nip slip (I accidentally flashed once).
  • A full change of clothes. I opt for track suit bottoms and an extra pair of leggings to go underneath because even if it’s a warmish day, having burnt off a of energy, you may still be cold afterwards. At the very least, don’t forget the essentials…. fresh pants and socks!
  • Spare pair of shoes. Old trainers or even wellies are a good bet if there is a chance it will be muddy in the event village. Bring trainers you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • OCR gloves. Not every likes to wear them but I find them helpful, not so much for grip but to protect my hands from getting scratched and nails from catching and bending back.
  • I bit the bullet and splashed out on a Dryrobe. I bought a large mens size so it’s basically a mobile tent and I can change under it if needs be. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, make sure you bring suitable cold weather clothes to wear afterwards, especially if you have long hair which will be wet and caked in mud, making cold.
  • Sports watch. Not vital but useful to keep track of your time if you’re racing for a personal best. Interesting too, to see how many calories you’ve burnt and analyse your heart rate, if you like that kind of thing. My calorie burn record for a race is just over 1500, so a hearty meal with fellow racers was very well deserved.
  • Towel that you don’t mind getting muddy. Not all events have showers and sometimes the water is cold. Depending on how muddy I am, rather than having a freezing cold shower, sometimes I have to have a “baby wipe bath” to scrub most of the mud off and followed by a rub down with a towel, then lavish in a hot shower at home.
  • Body wipes in case there are no showers or the water runs out. Try and get unscented, biodegradable ones to be kinder to the environment.
  • Bin bag for muddy clothes and a spare bag for muddy shoes. Also useful for sitting on if the ground is damp in the event village.
  • Deodorant. No brainer.
  • Lip salve. Prevent chapped lips if its cold.
  • Suncream
  • I wear contact lenses with a 2 week lifespan, so I run in a pair nearing the end of their life, which I can throw away afterwards. Getting water and mud in them could lead to eye infections.
  • Sunglasses. Protect those peepers when you’re enjoying a post-race beverage.
  • Hand sanitiser and tissues for when the Portaloos run out, which they often do.
  • Hair ties. I run with a spare one on my wrist. You don’t want your hair tie breaking halfway through a run and having wet, muddy hair flapping about. I often find wearing hair in a plait minimises the chances of it getting caught whilst crawling under barbed wire.
  • Bottle of water for straight after the race and journey home to keep hydrated.
  • Snacks. Lots of snacks. I’ve been left disappointed at quite a few events with the lack of healthy food available post race. For someone with a diet like mine (i.e. not able to have wheat or cows milk due to IBS), the usual selection of hotdogs and burgers doesn’t always cut it and it can be difficult to find food I can eat without digestive repercussions. I also eat a low sugar diet anyway, so the generic sugary “sports” drinks given out don’t help either. I take low-sugar oat based snack bars (homemade if possible), coconut water or a carton of oat milk and a small bag of nuts.
  • Have a big breakfast. I often have a salmon, potato and leafy green veg omelette a few hours before the race and a banana before running.
  • Portable phone charger. Don’t risk running out of battery and not being able to use your phone to check train times… or taking post race pics.
  • Cash for taxis to train stations and for merchandise if you want.
  • Print and sign your waiver to save time on the day and bring photo ID, which you usually need in order to race.

So there you have it. Your OCR Survival Guide. Print out your free OCR Checklist. Put it in a plastic wallet and mark off items with a non-toxic dry-wipe marker each time you’re packing for a race.  Happy racing!

Download your free OCR Survival Checklist here

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