OCR 101: How to Find the Right Obstacle Racing or Mud Run Shoe
Shoes! Shoes are one of the hottest topics in obstacle racing and mud runs. It is one of the first questions that arises for any new athlete and even the experienced athletes at the beginning of the new season. Instead of stocking their closets with the newest designer shoe, obstacle racers and mud runners turn to the running shoe companies to find their closets and shoe racks. Before buying your next pair of OCR shoes below are a few tips to help you decide the best pair for you.
Minimalist or Non-Minimalist
The first step to finding the perfect shoe for obstacle racing and mud runs is to determine if you are looking for a minimalist shoe or a non-minimalist shoe. Many of the most popular options in obstacle racing and mud run today are primarily minimalist shoes. Companies such as Inov-8, New Balance, Icebug, and the Reebok OCR specific shoes cater to those looking for less padding in their shoes. Salomon is a shoe of choice for many looking for a non-minimal shoe. (check out all our shoe recommendations) The reason many look minimal has to do with weight as well as design. The lighter the shoe, the faster you can be on your feet and the less it will weigh after several mud pits and swims.
When looking at your options it is an easy mistake to turn to Gore-Tex as an option. Gore-Tex is a fantastic fabric and is great for repelling water. Which is the allure that draws many into looking at that as an option. However, Gore-Tex also does not breathe so that means that once the water gets into the shoe it is not going anywhere. By the end of an obstacle race or mud run shoes are not only squishing after each step but also weight four or five times more than when you started the race.
While not the easiest thing to test in a store, one of the elements to look for when looking for your next OCR shoe is to find out how well it does after its been doused in a pool of muddy water. Very few obstacle races and mud runs leave you clean and dry at the end of the race. So when picking out a shoe look carefully at the upper and think about how it will hold up to mud, water, and whatever else the race throws you on course.
When looking at shoe options one of the best things to do is to flip the shoe over and take a good look at the lugs (or soles) on the bottom of the shoe. Depending on your geographic location you may want extreme lugs versus just a good solid lug. For those located in wet climates where the trails are often muddy look for more extreme traction on your shoe. For those in the drier parts of the country you still need some good solid traction for races but do not need the extreme traction of constantly wet terrain.
The last element after looking at the design, construction, and features of a shoe is to look at how it fits YOUR foot. There is no one perfect shoe for every person. It is important to try the shoes on, see how they feel on your foot, as well think about how they will feel after hours of racing and running on a rugged and challenging terrain.
In obstacle racing and mud runs if there is one item not to skimp on it is shoes! For a list of some of the most popular shoes for obstacle racing and mud runs, be sure to check out the Top Shoes for Mud Runs and Obstacle Races.
Margaret is Editor-in-Chief of Mud Run Guide. She has been part of the OCR Community since 2010. When not working on the next article she can be found running from race-to-race as a competitor.
She founded DirtinYourSkirt.com, an OCR community for women as well as former contributing editor for Mud and Obstacle Magazine and industry expert for About.com. She authored the book Obstacle Race Training.
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