Now that BattleFrog Xtreme 24 is over, you may be thinking it is time to take other aspects of your Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) life to the extreme.  Recently, you have been lining up at Obstacle Course Races and started to notice something spreading amongst the athletes in the front of the field.  It began as an isolated overly excited ex-triathlete who transitioned into OCR and has spread to other athletes.  This pending epidemic is the growth in spandex.  Spandex, or other materials, which are body hugging leaving nothing to the imagination have grown in popularity since the first Spear was thrown in Vermont.   The question you may be asking yourself now, “Is spandex right for me?”  Well, feel free to use this guide to determine if you should cram your junk into an airtight garment or if you should keep a buffer of air between your privates and the rest of the world.

Is performance more important than appearance?

Lucas CTG Stairway to Heaven

Lucas Pfannenstiel completing Conquer The Gauntlet's signature Stairway to Heaven obstacle.

You should be answering a strong yes to this one if spandex is right for you.  Spandex provides minimal excess material so you can run faster.  Sure they may laugh at you, but that .5 oz less of clothing you are carrying is going to make the difference.  Plus the spandex provides compression, which is supposed to improve performance.


Do I care if others can see every outline of my man/lady business?

This one should be a strong no if spandex is right for you.  With great compression, comes great exposure.  If you believe only your spouse should have a good look at your twig and berries (or camel toe), you may need to reconsider.  Feel free to choose a dark color to mitigate this exposure effect.  There is a reason most spandex shorts do not come in white…because you can essentially see through them…and that is gross for everyone.  If you feel like spandex exposes too much you may want to carry some mid-race fuel in your shorts to distract the other racers.  “Oh, that?…that’s just my mid-race banana and spare gels.”

While I am on this topic, I apologize to everyone who has seen more of me than they care to see.  For those that like what you saw, I will just leave you with a simple “You are welcome” and I consider it my community service to the OCR world.


Do I want to avoid carrying excess wet and baggy clothing?

The correct answer for the spandex wearing professional is yes.  Wearing compression prevents extra material from absorbing water and having to lug it around the course.  If you like useless, wet and baggy clothing, try running your next race wearing every article of clothing you plan on packing for World’s Toughest Mudder or dressed in a Beastman costume (someone please get this reference without the help of Google).


Do I want to look like I know what I am doing even if I have no clue what is going on here?

So….you have not been training for the last year, but you signed up for the event anyway.  Maybe you still want to place highly, but are physically incapable, try a little bit of intimidation.  Showing up on the starting line looking like an OCR ninja just might scare away the competition.  I have been trying this tactic with Ryan Atkins albeit unsuccessfully….maybe I need more spandex….like a full body suit.Do I want to see how much barbed wire I can get stuck in?


Do I want to see how much barbed wire I can get stuck in?

spandex shorts

Back of author's pants with a hole ripped over the butt, showing that just because you wear spandex, does not mean you are immune from ripping clothes.

Spandex provides minimal extra material that is likely to get caught in barb wire.  Wearing excess baggy clothing will increase your probability of having your clothing catch the barbed wire.  Spandex does not completely prevent your clothes from getting caught though as I found out in Shale Hell ripping a gaping hole right over my butt, but it does lower the probability.


The bottom line is spandex is not for the modest, but it does have a practical purpose.  The tight compression avoids having excess material that will absorb water and add weight to your body.  Furthermore, it offers less material to get stuck on barbed wire and other obstacles.   Finally, depending on the brand, it offers compression to enhance blood flow and marginally increase performance.  So suit up and stuff yourself into a pair of shorts one size too small and I will see you on the starting line.






Lucas Photo courtesy of Lucas Pfannenstiel

Pants photo courtesy of Evan Perperis

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