When I started in OCR five years ago, I made a lot of rookie mistakes. OCR itself was a rookie sport. There wasn’t a lot of fine gear like we have today. Still, some of that gear is less than, shall we say, appropriate for the course. Here are some tips and suggestions for you to avoid an OCR wardrobe malfunction.
My first malfunction was epic. I had an old pair of cotton cargo shorts. Lots of pockets to carry my course gear like energy bars, water bottle, and other gear that I learned about in Boy Scouts for adventures like this – a compass, extra water for my Tenderfoot buddies who forgot theirs, a pup tent in case we got stranded in foul weather, and freeze-dried food for wilderness nourishment. After these cotton cargo shorts got wet at the canal crossing, they ripped right up the side when I threw my leg over an inverted wall. I spent the rest of the race with the materiel flopping around like a flag in a hurricane.
Before athletes caught on to the fact that the “R” in OCR actually stood for Running (not Racing), the world of running athletes were already far ahead in proper running gear. I had a lot of problems with calf cramping. Compression socks solved the problem but drew all kinds of criticism and jeers on the course. I was one of the first to wear them at a time when OCR athletes raced in the minimal amount of clothing like bears just coming out of winter hibernation – hungry, lean, angry, and all their winter fur falling off in great big clumps. We were an unruly sight back then. But not me. I wore my signature neon green compression socks. You could see me from just about anywhere on Blue Mountain in Palmerton. I lit the place up like a lighthouse. Everybody thought I was an idiot. Now everybody wears them. I own stock in all the compression gear companies and became independently wealthy last year.
Such insider knowledge includes bicycle racers. Long before OCR, this crew knew all about compression shorts. So imagine the laughs I got as one of the first out there with cycling shorts. The form-fitting spandex with chamois padded crotch enhancement was perfect for dodging barbed wire snags. Girls should start wearing compression shorts on their heads to keep their ponytails from catching in the wire.
Don’t skimp on compression sleeves either. I wanted them for elbow protection during barbed wire crawls. Instead, my homemade sleeves (cutoffs from a long sleeved tech shirt) made me look like a granny who lost her garter belt.
Gloves for OCR continue to fail in every category except for keeping one’s hands warm. I was more interested in grip. No matter what combination of rubber and material I tried, the gloves didn’t work. This remains the consensus among most OCR athletes. It’s also a conspiracy among rig manufacturers. They paint the bars with stuff that keeps gloves from sticking while guaranteeing maximum coatings of human sweat, blood, and of course, mud. In this obstacle below, I did not fall off because the rope was a thousand feet long, or that I got chicked by Adriane. It was those cheap gloves.
Sneakers are another valuable lesson learned among our stock. Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star high-top canvas sneakers are great for hoops and hip-hop but totally suck on the course. We all have permanent souvenirs to attest to this truth – missing teeth, broken bones, bruises that are pretty many tattoos now. We look more like an ice hockey team who played without pads.
What are your wardrobe malfunctions? Let’s see some stories and pictures. The new beer belly pocket belt does not count.
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