I am not going to assume that everyone reading this knows what the sternum checker is, so here are some photos. You’ll notice immediately that there is a wide variety of things called “sternum checker,” but this isn’t an op-ed about standardization of obstacles. Not yet anyways.
January 2017 marked the end of an era as the Tough Guy Race in the UK put on its last event. In reading about it and watching videos I began thinking about the idea of “Toughness” and how this notion of being “tough” or at least trying to teach this attribute has actually spawned the entire industry of obstacle racing (OCR). In fact, this belief that an OCR is basically a sport of suffering is eloquently described in detail in Scott Keneally’s documentary Rise of the Sufferfests. Tough Mudder has doubled, actually quadrupled down on this idea with their creation of the Tougher Mudder, Toughest Mudder, and the World’s Toughest Mudder events. The question is what does it really mean to be “tough”?
2017’s OCR Championships line-up is scheduled to be the same. World’s Toughest Mudder will be in Las Vegas for its fourth year, Spartan Race in Tahoe for its third year and OCR World Championship in Blue Mountain Canada for its second year. While some were ecstatic at the news, others seemed disappointed hoping for a new venue. I even heard several “Well it has to move overseas otherwise it is not a real world championship” and "They need to change locations next year."
Spartan Race is a physical and mental challenge. It is also a test of one’s character. The rules of Spartan Race are tough, but clear. No outside assistance. No cutting distance. Attempt every obstacle. If you fail an obstacle, do 30 burpees. Fail the burpees? Resign from the race. These clearly stated rules make the completion of the race an intense challenge, and victory a true accomplishment. This is no “fun run,” this is a test of your overall fortitude, and you pay to endure it.
When I got into obstacle course racing, running and endurance events I did it for me and me alone. I did it first to challenge myself physically because growing up I wasn’t super athletic, but my parents made sure I got a taste of sports. I did gymnastics for a while until I couldn’t get any more due to financial strains on my parents. That was a sad time. I loved it, but after so many injuries I started on my fitness journey once again. It wasn’t to lose weight, in fact, I would do anything to gain weight as I was always thin. It was more to have a balance between a demanding job and life.
An epic endurance race of incredible distances in harsh conditions, although filmed weeks earlier the rest of America is just getting a glimpse of it now. Unknown to many, this event has been going on for years attracting local participants as well as those from across the globe. This year is different, though. It is the first year televised, but not just by any television channel; a primary network has picked it up for airing.
This holiday season, sometimes figuring out the gift for the OCR loved one in your life can be a challenge. While the number of companies that produce OCR related gear continues to grow wading through it all can be challenging. We asked our team at Mud Run Guide what is on their OCR gear wishlist this year. Also what they are looking to give their loved ones. Hopefully, our wishlists help you get some new ideas for your loved ones.
Last year I compared World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) 2014 with 2015. Since another year has passed in the same location, new athletes to the WTM course probably want to know how this year compared to the last two years in Vegas. Here is a quick rundown by topic with my two cents thrown into the mix.
I recently spent a lot of time on airplanes so I took all the results and data from this year’s Obstacle Course Racing World Championships and calculated all the statistics for pass/fail rates. I’m going to go out on a limb and state that one of the obstacles this year has created an industry first. But first, the statistics. The numbers of competitors including pass/fail information was taken directly from the timing data gathered by Chosen USA, this year’s official timing company.
In case you missed it, recently at the Spartan World Championship, Spartan made (what I viewed) as a big deal about having United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) at their event. Instead of drug testing, like I expected them to, they were there just to inform all the elite athletes of the rules. A definite step in the right direction, although I think I would have preferred informing and testing all in one move.