One of the worst things you can do is blindly sign up for an OCR. Prior to signing up you should complete a little research. I’m not saying you need to spend hours behind a computer researching each event but you should be familiar with it. For the most part each event is the same. There is mud, water, obstacles and a course. Oh yeah, there is running too! They always fail to mention that one. There are still other important components that need to be evaluated to determine “event worth”. Below are just a few of the items I review before registering for a race.
- Location, Location, Location: I’ll always look at Google Maps to determine how far the race is from me. I try to stay under three hours travel time each way. The last thing I want to do after a race is drive a long way home. I doubt it’s pleasant.
- Course Type: Course terrain is important. If you don’t like running up hills or up a mountain you’ll want to know that ahead of time. Sometimes the event will tell you the course terrain in the description. So make sure you always read the description. I promise it’s not painful. You’re reading this aren’t you?! If all else fails you can always use Google Maps to get an idea of the terrain based off the location.
- Price: Most of the races aren’t going to break the bank, unless you do 20 or more a year. You might have to skip a night out on the town, but you’ll have more fun completing this than watching your friend try to get some digits again.
- Length: If you’ve never ran nine miles in your life I don’t suggest signing up for a nine mile OCR. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but maybe opt for the three mile OCR instead. If you don’t like running after the first mile at least you won’t have to run another eight miles to finish. I’m personally a fan of no more than five miles. I’ve completed longer, but ideally between three and five is my personal preference (although this year I’m attempting two races that are 10+ miles).
- Reviews: You should read all unbiased reviews…like mine! The event’s website will always have positive reviews. Use blogs, Yelp or Google to find the honest ones. Reviews will give you everything you need to know and what to expect.
- What Do You Get?: You’re spending a good bit of money you should want something in return other than sore muscles and mud in your hair. Most races offer the following: t-shirt (sport or cotton), medal, access to the after party, showers and changing station and a free beer. Some races offer: free parking, free bag check (double bonus if you get both!), headband, warrior helmet and silicone wristbands. Tough Mudder gives away a small finishers towel. I hung mine in my cubicle at work.
Those are just a few items you should look at prior to registering. If it’s your first race you should also have a friend that would want to do it with you. Feel free to contact me for any OCR event day advice or opinions. If I’ve done the event I’ll give my honest opinion.
In the next mile I’ll talk about my race bibs and what I do with them after the race.